An Unexpected Surprise

 

One recent Saturday morning a friend and I decided to spend the early morning hours scouting for turkeys on a farm near the Montgomery/Randolph County line.  We had hoped to hear the sounds of gobbling resonating through the woods but didn’t have much luck.  The wind was high and carried quite a crispness for this time of year.  Afterwards, while driving through the farm we were able to sight a gobbler escorting two young hens around a clover patch.  Exciting as it was it couldn’t match what we saw around the next turn.

Exiting the woods we came out in the direction of the barn.  The cows were all gathered around waiting for their next portion of feed.  In the middle of the pasture we spotted an animal that appeared to be a deer.  After further inspection we deduced that it wasn’t a deer but looked like a wild dog.  As soon as it took off running and presented us with a good look there was no further question what we were looking at.  It was a large, adult male coyote.  I’ve never seen a coyote in the wild during the daylight but I remain confident that this creature was as large as any in this part of the world.  He covered the 200 yards between where he was and woods in a matter of seconds.  Once reaching the wood line he quickly darted through the brush and was out of sight in no time.  We were both excited about seeing such a rare occurrence, but also concerned about the coyote’s presence on the property. 

Coyotes are not native to North Carolina .  They are exotic species that arrived here through human intervention.  More specifically, they were either released in our parts or escaped from holding facilities.  Once in the wild, their incredible ability to survive and reproduce helped expand populations in a short time frame.  The coyote’s diet consists of small animals such as rabbits, moles, and young birds.  Thus, landowners interested in increasing habitat for quail or turkeys aren’t pleased with the growing coyote populations.  In North Carolina , there is no hunting season for coyotes.  Most landowners request hunters to shoot every coyote they see.  However, that often doesn’t make a dent in the population. 

Coyotes are nocturnal animals, meaning the majority of their active periods are during the night time.  They may be seen occasionally during dawn and dusk.  Still, however, they are rarely ever seen for more than a few seconds.  These traits, along with their reproductive abilities, forewarn that coyotes are probably here for the long haul.  With no true natural predators other than shotguns and rifles, this coyote is probably just the first of many I’ll cross paths with.