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Dead Deer, Live Deer, Vulture, 'Possum, Coy-wolf

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In less than a week, the scavengers had reduced a deer carcass in our field to a torso and attached bones. They started at the haunch and kept going. A gray fox opened the haunch, eating most of one, and the vultures, who'd been waiting for an opening, gladly went ahead and finished the job.

Snow fell on the carcass, and this buck came by to investigate.

Everything in his mien said revulsion and apprehension--the pinned-back ears, the hunched back, the tentative steps. 

I figure he knew this young button buck.

He circled the carcass, kept coming back.

Finally he walked off, shaking his foot as if to rid himself of the feeling of coming upon one of his own, dead.

Others were much happier to discover the carcass.

I was elated to have a chance to finally get some decent vulture shots. I needed them for my new talk.

When the coy-wolves found the carcass, it went from food to bones overnight. 

At dawn, I found a fat opossum gnawing on it. And opossums being who they are, I was able to walk slowly out in the meadow, shooting as I approached. When he looked up at me I stopped, took a last photo, and walked back the way I came. He never left, just went back to his stanky breakfast.

What a gift this carcass was to so many animals. 

The next morning it was gone! But it wasn't hard to find...see the white dot in the woods border? And the trail of white belly hair leading all the way to it? Coy-wolves, dragging it into cover, not wanting to be spotted feeding. They're strong animals. I'm teaching myself not to call them coyotes any more. 

They're part eastern wolf. Just wrote an article for The Marietta Times called Coy-Wolves: Evolution in Action. 

This photo taken in our meadow a few winters back. Visually inseparable from an eastern (red) wolf. That's because he's got a big dose of those Canis rufus genes, from the interbreeding that went on between western coyotes and eastern wolves in northern Ontario. What we've got in the East is a genetically stable hybrid. Not a coy-dog. A coy-wolf. A new canid, longer of leg, bigger of foot, shorter and deeper of muzzle, smaller of ear and heavier of body and fur than the scrawny pale western coyote.

 And they live and feast and yammer and howl on our land every night. They den on the north-facing slope. So far, they have chosen not to kill Chet Baker, though I know they could in a heartbeat. And I'm grateful they have kept it to deer and rabbits, turkeys and woodchucks, voles and feral cats. I think about it every time I let him out to do his nightly business. And I think he does, too. He hurries back, flaps his ears, shivers. I spank him as he runs by, hug him, thankful each time that he comes back to crawl under the covers with me. Life in the country.

When I hear them howl I tuck what tail I have and run for the house!

The stash.

Every morning, a surprise. The turkey vulture's namesake, partying in the dawn light.

I'll miss my vultures. Must see if we can rustle up some more grub for them. 
You've heard the word catharsis. It refers to the relief, the cleansing collapse you feel after a big emotional event. 

Cathartes aura. The Golden Cleanser. 


So they are coy-wolves that we have here in Central Virginia? I often hear them yelping and howling up in the hills at a slight distance from our house - and one morning on our walk we even saw one cross the road ahead of us. Like you, I am very grateful that they have yet to eat Bugsy, while knowing they could and would. When he dashes out the pet door in the evening to go chase the raccoon or the opossum, I dash out behind him to bring him straight back in. I'm afraid, though, he doesn't know about the coy-wolves the way Chet does. He thinks I just don't want him to play with those other smaller things. He loves the one that runs straight up a tree, and is very puzzled by the one that falls over dead and then disappears the minute he turns his back.

Great excuse for an Irish Wolfhound puppy to become Chet's bodyguard.

Julie, I am aware of the coy-wolf that lives in the New England States and in Canada. I was not aware of that specific bloodline being found in Ohio. I'd be interested in finding out what you base your information on.

In Ohio we have some canids with a lot of western coyote genes, but also coywolves. Social system seems to be packing with one dominant pair breeding, ala wolf. I've gotten my info from the Nature special, and then from delving deeper into the named researchers' work online. Have been reading up on this for awhile. The animals that have infiltrated Chicago are coy-wolves. I believe ours in SE OH to be, too. They definitely aren't western coyotes. Appearance is definitely wolfish, as seen in the post.

It is very haunting and evocative to see that deer sniffing around the carcass. I don't know why that behavior surprises me, but it does.

I didn't know there was such a creature as a coy-wolf. Very interesting. My brother in Virginia may have some around his property. He has mentioned seeing a wolf, but I always say, it's probably a coyote. He insists its bigger and wolf-like. Maybe this is what he is talking about.

Hi Julie, would you mind citing those sources? Thanks!

Hi Sara and Manon. A good start here:

I'm thinking there's no way I could let a dog out at night without going along, shining a flashlight at every little noise, etc.
You'd never know I grew up where we carried flashlights at night (when going to the outhouse...yes, we had one) so as to see any snakes in the path, or woolie caterpillars on the wooden toilet seat. Yes, I do speak from personal experience of the result when not carrying a flashlight.

Thanks for linking me to this post from October 2015, Julie. It's interesting because one day (in Greene County Ohio) I saw what I thought was a wolf running in a field. I was certain it couldn't have been and chalked it up as a larger, heavy coyote. I still don't know what I saw that day, but this makes me feel a little less crazy.

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