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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A noble coyote slaughtered

K and I started our hike with optimism and I had a bounce in my step. The skies beamed deep blue, and I had time to explore.
As we hiked toward our property boundary, I saw something that made me feel like a dead weight had fallen on my shoulders. Animal tracks veered off the trail and went about 20 yards. At the end of the tracks, a lump of reddish brown fur lay motionless. A few coyotes tracks, fresh, circled a dead coyote, as if they'd investigated which of their brethren had departed.
I'll spare you the detailed photos. I truly am not squeamish about this sort of thing, and I wanted to document how he'd died in case someone could be prosecuted so I took careful photos. This noble coyote was shot in the neck. Moreover, I recognized him as Nick Ear, the young coyote who often traveled alone and had a distinctive nick in his ear. You can't really see it in my photo but I wanted one last photo of his ear.
I called our Division of Wildlife because some evidence hinted that someone had trespassed onto our property to shoot him. I was informed that coyotes are deemed to be varmints here so it's open season on them all year long. In fact, a land owner can shoot a coyote for the sole transgression of traveling across their land - as if a coyote understands the human concept of property boundaries. In today's case, the only possible crime to prosecute was trespassing onto our land. Because I have no hard evidence of who did it or whether they shot from our land, no one will be prosecuted for killing this handsome creature.
He sometimes traveled as a third wheel with a bonded pair, who I suspect are a mating pair. Sometimes, my wildlife cameras captured signs of antagonism between him and his two cohorts. However, usually, they seemed happy to forage and hunt together. I suspected that Nick Ear was the youngest of the trio and would help the mated pair raise their young this spring. It's possible that he was one of last year's litter who hadn't left the territory yet. It's been documented numerous times that these young coyotes play a key role in raising their parents' subsequent litter.
Basically, our government doesn't care about these sentient, smart, dignified, and social beings. Except, they do care about his pelt. I was warned sternly by DOW that I was NOT allowed to take his pelt - as if the thought had even crossed my mind. At that point in the conversation, my anger and stress level rose so high that an ocular migraine launched its crazy light show. When that happened, I realized how truly upset I was.

Despite our horrible discovery early in the hike, I truly tried to have a fun hike with K. If nothing else, at least my own pack is intact. We did our usual wandering off-trail, finding bobcat tracks from early this morning when the snow crust remained frozen solid for him to walk atop it.
Lately, I seem to have the instincts of a bobcat when I follow my whim for where to hike. Those secretive creatures like the same terrain as I do, so we end up following similar paths. We both love the views from boulder outcroppings, like the one where I photographed my K.
After a hike in perfect Colorado weather, I trudged home, still feeling sad at the viciously cruel behavior of some humans. Here's to you Nick Ear - we loved sharing the forest with you.


  1. Damnit -

    Why are there so many stupid people out there?

    Coyotes can't help what they are for that is quite special - they make the most of the challenges thrown at them by our overbuilding the planet -

    Thanks for giving him a proper tribute and send off here -

    It was his forest too -

  2. So sorry about Nick Ear. Your heart must have sank when you saw it was one of "your" coyotes. The laws are the same here - coyotes can be shot year round as pests. Our neighbor with the goat farm will shoot any he sees in his pastures.

  3. I just want to start cussing, but I'm not allowed to. WHY? What did NickEar do to anybody? Especially where you live! Sucks! Some humans are the most inhumans. This doesn't make sense but I don't care. I'm mad

  4. Have missed your blog so much while we've been gone and are so sad to return to the news in this post. Oh the stupidity and cruel, heartless nature of some humans. I saw a PBS show on wolves the other evening and ended up in tears - apparently the Obama administration, of all "groups," have loosened up on the killing of wolves in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. I am stunned and very angry and find strength in your views and expression of them. Can't believe the DOW's position either, but am well aware that there is a part of the west that holds old codes sacred. You are a beacon amidst those "codes." RIP Nick Ear.
    xo Sammie

  5. Wow, I actually feel my eyes tearing up for a wild coyote half way across the country - it is so sad that he probably did nothing wrong and had to pay with his life.

    Stupid humans.. I wish they would learn to respect wildlife the way you do.

  6. I'm usually a lurker on your blog. First of all let me say I love reading of your mountain hikes and truly wish I had the same backyard as you do.
    What prompted me to comment today is our shared sentiment about coyotes. I truly admire their adaptiveness, their intelligence, and their beauty. Why our native carnivores (wolves, coyotes, cougars, bears) must continually be harrassed and killed for no good reason is beyond my understanding. It is surely a travesty and doesn't say much for many of our species' humanity.

  7. Oh, I'm so sorry! What a depressing start to your day. It's even sadder that I felt I knew him a little through the wildlife camera. I understand hunting for food, but to shoot him simply because is such a sad thing.

    I hope that tomorrow is a better day for you!

  8. What an awful thing to run across. I had a neighbor that wanted to shoot our coyotes and was trying to convince me they were a danger to my horses. That's when you know you are talking to someone who knows nothing about animals.

  9. How cruel!!
    Sick sick sick!


  10. This breaks our heart. We're so sorry to this happened to the young coyote.

  11. The same laws apply here, and I am not a fan. Very sorry you happened upon this...

  12. What a beautiful tribute to Nick Ear. And what a beautiful coyote. Such a tragic waste of life.

    I am so angry and sad after reading your post. What is the matter with some humans? Especially those in power who have the ability to change things for the better? You expressed it perfectly when you wrote, "Basically, our government doesn't care about these sentient, smart, dignified, and social beings." Nor other animals that inhabit our World. So many beautiful creatures of land and sea are being needlessly, cruelly, inhumanely slaughtered. It is too much to bear sometimes.

    I am sorry for your loss. Your part of the World will be a bit sadder without Nick Ear around.


    Suka and K

  13. Sadly, it's the same everywhere. Around here the farmers shoot the Pyrennean bears - give it five years and they'all be gone. I wonder what sort of world their grandchildren will inherit?

  14. NO NO NO! What is wrong with people? I am so sad. It's so hard when we witness cruelty where there is nothing that can be done about it. I am sorry for your loss of Nick Ear. Thank you for the beautiful pictures so we can remember.

  15. A sad reminder of the fickleness of our own species. I'm really sorry for your loss..its the same deep cuting feeling as when we see Rhino butcherred for their horns and elephants hacked for their tusks. (and some people think that human-beings are the highest order of life...!)
    Luv C

  16. unbelievable, and soooo sad! i'm just not sure how anyone could shoot any animal, for any reason.......
    godspeed Nick Ear....
    as difficult as it was, i'm glad you found his say goodbye...

  17. All hail, Nick Ear. We're so sorry for your loss.

  18. I'm so sorry you had to witness that. It makes me so freaking mad to read about that and feel so helpless. The fact that so many critters are still legally "varmits" is shocking. Open season on all these guys really needs to end. I hope one of your wildlife cameras catches whomever it was, if not now then eventually.

  19. This breaks my heart. I loved living on the edge of RMNP for nearly 8 years. I loved stalking, photographing and learning about the wildlife. And even though they do have tragedies such as this there, too, not nearly as often. But keep doing what you are doing. People learn to respect wildlife from reading your adventures, feeling your exhilaration and seeing your magnificent photos.

  20. I feel your sadness. We have had packs of coyotes take down calves and sick cows here on the Ponderosa. We run donkey's with our cattle. They will kick and run off the animal that attacks the livestock and occasionally stomp an aggressive attacker to death. I never condone the unnecessary killing of an animal but I do feel a farmer/rancher has the right to protect his livelihood. We have everything from big cats to bears here in the Ozarks. It saddens me that someone just shot the animal in it's tracks.

    You have yourself one blessed day!!!

  21. That is really sad. We had a couple of issues here with coyotes running in residential areas. They had taken and killed several small dogs. One town allowed them to be hunted and killed. Ours decided to track them and see what was going on. In the end they determined it was one male and they trapped him and moved him to some other area and left the rest of the pack. I am not sure if that is the right thing to do, but the killings of the dogs stopped. Too bad we have encroached on their environments so much.

    Hope you were able to enjoy at least part of your hike.

    RIP, Nick Ear.

  22. KB, my chest feels so tight with anger. Sure, there's a fine line with wildlife and those who make their livelihood from the land (in an otherwise ecologically sensitive way), but shooting a coyote like Nick Ear has no justification.

    Last fall, 7 coyotes where trapped and killed by Fish and Game in Griffith Park here in LA following two reports of "attacks" made on humans. This came after too many park users fed the coyotes...why seven and why those seven and did they catch the one who had lost his fear of humans? No one knows. It was a smart and well thought out move by our professionals.

    I was terrified a couple years ago when a mountain lion somehow made it into our neighborhood (a good 7 miles/two freeway passes and a few neighborhoods from their forest). Helicopters flew with search lights and Fish and Game was out in droves. I was so scared what might happen if someone with a gun and adrenaline rushing through them found the cat. Luckily, they didn't.

  23. We've taken over their world, and some of us have the gall to call THEM the pests! I admire coyotes for their ability to adapt despite the acts of the worst of us. Blessings Nick-ear!

  24. FRACK! I HATE stupid people! I love coytes. did you ever read the blog about Charlie the coyte who was parentless as a pup and rescued and raised by a person? she has to be very careful with him so he doesn't get shot. but he's "somewhat" tame (aroudn 2 humans only) and an awesome creature. gets along with her cat and other dog...

    anyway, i love them. we have some around the property too. some are extremely ugly and some are beautiful. i find that funny. i'm so sorry about Nick Ear. What a crappy thing to do. and that's an understatement.

  25. I'm sorry about this slaughter. Also, why would someone with a gun be on your land in the winter? Be careful when you are out and about, KB!

  26. I finally found your blog and am enjoying it. My dog also found the Nick Ear under a tree on your land and we too mourned him. I am thinking he was the one I would see crossing the meadow a couple times a day and up into Marie's land. I do miss seeing him.

    That story scares me more about being in the woods than the animals you share.
    Your neighbor, Marilyn


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