Farmer Rob spotted this coyote making its way along the edge of a Howell Farm pasture at about 10am. Then it disappeared into the woods.
I’ve heard many coyotes calling in the night, but this is the first time I’ve seen a coyote with my own eyes that I’m 100% sure was a coyote. When I was a Howell Farm intern six years ago, I watched a four-legged animal dash out of the barnyard at night that I think was a coyote, but I can’t be sure.
Coincidently, I’ve been thinking about coyotes recently. Two nights ago I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Coywolf” about the Eastern Coyote, which has some wolf genes that make it larger and less timid than the Western Coyote. Eastern Coyotes are also more likely to take down a deer than smaller coyotes. Overall, coyote populations have been rising in places where they historically aren’t found, like inner cities.
There’s also a scientific study I read recently that mentions lyme disease, white tailed deer, mice, foxes and coyotes. Conventional wisdom has been that high deer populations are a major driver of lyme disease in humans, because deer harbor many deer ticks, which transmit the disease.
This new study found, however, found a much closer correlation between fox populations and the rate of lyme disease in humans: The more foxes there are, the less lyme disease. The hypothesis is that foxes eat mice, which are the main transmitters of lyme disease to humans. Coyotes come into play because coyotes often kill foxes or drive them away. Rising coyote populations have meant fewer foxes. Habitat fragmentation also plays a role. Small forest fragments host more mice but fewer mice predators than larger forests.
A summary of that study is here: