Stories tagged coyote

Sep
11
2008

The Cuero Chupacabra: A photograph of the mystery animal itself. Gorgeous.
The Cuero Chupacabra: A photograph of the mystery animal itself. Gorgeous.Courtesy Phylis B. Canion
The Cuero Chupacabra lives!

Well, not “lives” literally. It was, in fact, hit by a car, decapitated, and frozen, which makes living difficult for most things. But the tenacious crypto-beast refuses to be silent, even in death, and so I invite you all to have a seat on the cryptocouch, and kick up your feet on the ottoman of open-mindedness. Do so now.

A quick refresher: Last year a Texas woman found several strange looking animals on a road near her ranch—all had apparently been struck by cars. The creatures were about 40 pounds each, grayish, largely hairless, fanged, and dog-like. It was suggested that these animals might have been responsible for the deaths by exsanguination (removal of blood) of dozens of chickens in the area over the last several years, and so they were associated with the legendary Latin American bloodsucking monster the chupacabra. These kinds of claims are made all the time, but this lady actually had the foresight to keep the bodies—or at least their heads—in her freezer for tests.

Refresher #2: A couple months later, the creature’s DNA results came back, and it was declared that the “chupacabras” were nothing more than coyotes with skin problems. Science Buzz had a post on this story too, and here’s the link for Texas State University’s take on the DNA results they came up with. And that’s about where coverage on the Cuero chupacabra dropped off (except for a sighting this summer).
Are coyotes the culprits?: Or are the Cuero creatures something different entirely?
Are coyotes the culprits?: Or are the Cuero creatures something different entirely?Courtesy matt knoth

But the story’s not quite over! The woman who shot the creatures claims that the results of the DNA tests were not accurately represented by the media, and that the story was dismissed without sufficient investigation. Phylis, the Cuero rancher herself, recently sent Science Buzz a letter regarding some of the problems she has with the sick coyote theory:

You state the Cuero Chupacabra is a sick coyote. Based on what evidence?

I have the beast, I have the DNA, and I have talked to multitudes of scientist and biologist and not ONE person has stated that this animal is a sick coyote.

What we know:

It DID NOT have mange

It is a cross between two animals that do not breed

It has blue eyes
I will continue to research this beast as I stated I would when I first began observing it two years ago!!

I hope this info helps-
Phylis

And so today the cryptocouch is no longer a place of simple relaxation, it is a nexus of discussion! What do you all think? If it’s not a mythological creature, and it’s not exactly a coyote, what is it?

Leave your comments and questions here. Hopefully Phylis will be joining the discussion herself—do you have any questions for her?

**Here's a link to a photo of Phylis with the creature's head. As soon as I find a postable image, I'll put it up with the story.

Apr
23
2008

I left my coyote in San Francisco: More and more coyotes are finding urban areas a great place to live. Food is abundant be it from small animals living in parks and golf courses, people's garbage or unsuspecting pet animals.
I left my coyote in San Francisco: More and more coyotes are finding urban areas a great place to live. Food is abundant be it from small animals living in parks and golf courses, people's garbage or unsuspecting pet animals.Courtesy stubbornbeauty
Do you remember that cute news story from about a year ago where a coyote was found sitting inside a Subway restaurant in Chicago? While coyotes may not make up a huge portion of Subway’s clientele, thier numbers are growing in urban centers. Many Science Museum visitors have shared stories of seeing coyotes in their neighborhoods. Researchers from Ohio State University have studied the coyote population in Chicago for several years and estimate that there could be up to 2,000 coyotes living there. Nationwide, one estimate figures there are 1 million coyotes living in urban areas.

Why would coyotes want to live in the city?

Of course, it’s all about shopping and convenience. Coyotes have been very adaptable through their evolution and moving into cities has probably made their lives even easier. Food is plentiful by poking through people’s garbage, eating from pet food containers that are outside and being able to find small animals easier. Golf courses, cemeteries and parks are prime coyote hangouts as small animals thrive in the habits that receive regular watering and nutrients. If the small animals are there, larger predators like coyotes will find them sooner or later. There are upsides and downsides to this. Parks with problem geese like coyotes to come through and reduce their numbers and coyotes have also been known to help reduce city deer populations. Pet owners, on the other hand, are not happy when coyotes decide to make a meal out of Fluffy or Fido.

Is there a coyote in your neighborhood?

There are a few easy ways to know if a coyote is living around you. Listen at night. Urban coyotes will still howl like their country cousins. Coyote tracks can be seen in snow or dirt. They’re smaller than wolf tracks. And coyotes leave behind little piles of souvenirs of their meals in the form of scat.

What should you do if coyotes lives near you?
• Don’t feed them or make food gathering easier. Secure your garbage cans, don’t leave pet food out at night, keep small pets attended outside (especially at night).
• The more you encourage small animals – like birds or rodents -- to be in your environment, the more you’ll do to attract coyotes to come hunting for them.
• Wild coyotes are naturally fearful of humans, but the more they’re around us, the less fear they have. Don’t do anything to encourage coyotes to feel comfortable with humans.

Of course, if you really want to get a coyote out of your neighborhood, why not bring in a roadrunner. It works all the time in cartoons, right?

Nov
04
2007

Sure, it's cute now: But wait until all its hair falls out, and it's draining chickens of their blood.  (photo courtesy of Harold Jarche on flickr.com)
Sure, it's cute now: But wait until all its hair falls out, and it's draining chickens of their blood. (photo courtesy of Harold Jarche on flickr.com)
Science! Oh no you didn’t! You had to go and ruin the latest chupacabra.

That’s right, crypto-enthusiasts, you heard it here first (unless you heard it from an actual news source): The Cuero chupacabra is, in fact, a coyote with hair loss problems.

Click on “Cuero chupacabra” above for some background, but the story, in a nutshell, is this: a rash of suspicious chicken murders in Cuero, Texas, were followed up by the discovery several suspicious-looking animal corpses. Some of the locals believed that these animals were examples of the legendary chupacabra, and a rancher saved one of the creatures’ heads in her freezer, and sent tissue in to Texas State University to be DNA tested.

Well, the “chupacabra’s” DNA sequence turned out to be a “virtually identical match to DNA from the coyote.”

I’m curious as to what was meant by “virtually,” but, yeah, the Cuero chupacabra is a hairless, 40-pound coyote. The wonders of science have single handedly destroyed by post-Halloween euphoria.

Learn more about stupid, boring, tricky coyotes here.

Jan
30
2007

Traffic danger: A scientific solution may be coming to prevent vehicle/deer collisions. Lining high-danger highways with canisters of wolf, coyote or bear urine may keep deer from crossing the roads.
Traffic danger: A scientific solution may be coming to prevent vehicle/deer collisions. Lining high-danger highways with canisters of wolf, coyote or bear urine may keep deer from crossing the roads.
With a personal driving record that includes three dead deer from the fenders of my car, I’m all in favor of finding new ways to prevent auto/deer collisions.

That’s why I was glad to read today’s press accounts of a new idea to help reduce highway deer accidents: the use of wolf, coyote or bear urine. That’s one of the new ideas being discussed this week at a summit of law enforcement officials from nine states meeting in the Twin Cities.

How exactly would that work? Canisters with urine would be placed along roadways that have high incidents of deer crashes. The thought is that the deer would be able to smell the urine and turn back on their path as not to get close to a predator.

It’s a very plausible idea in places like Minnesota and Wisconsin, where there are healthy populations of the predators. But what about places further south? That’s what members of the law enforcement group want to study. They don’t know if deer will react to the smell of urine from predators they’ve never faced before.

High fliers: These white tails in action show how fast and fleet deer can be out in the forests.
High fliers: These white tails in action show how fast and fleet deer can be out in the forests.
Minnesota is also working on a deer control project of its own. Using a dual set of light beams along side roads, the presence of a deer near the road could be sensed and send a signal to lights on deer crossing signs along that road. The lasers would be spaced far enough apart (six inches) so they couldn’t both be set off by smaller animals. The lights on the deer crossing sign would flash for about a minute in the vicinity of where the deer, or other large animal, crossed through the light beams.

At test of that plan will be done over the course of this year near Camden State Park in southwest Minnesota along Hwy. 23. Each year between 40 and 80 deer are killed by vehicles on that stretch of road.

Statewide, there were 4,176 vehicle/deer crashes in Minnesota in 2005 (statistics for 2006 are not yet compiled). Two people died in those crashes.

Other solutions to vehicle/deer crashes are not so popular with the public, including culling deer herds with special hunts.

But what I really want to know, how are they going to collect the predator urine? I, for one, am not going to go around to ask any wolves, coyotes or bears to pee into a little cup.

Dec
27
2006

Moving in: Finding it to be a very safe place to live, coyotes are moving in to cities and suburbs where they can find plenty of food but no threats from guns or predators.
Moving in: Finding it to be a very safe place to live, coyotes are moving in to cities and suburbs where they can find plenty of food but no threats from guns or predators.
Where’s the Roadrunner when you really need him?

Coyote populations have exploded in suburban areas in recent years, including in the Twin Cities. Today’s Star Tribune carried a story on the topic noting that in Eagan, south of St. Paul, there have been around 90 coyote sightings this year.

In Red Wing, down the Mississippi River from the Twin Cities, citizens grew so annoyed by the night-time howling and general nuisance of the animals there that they asked the city council to do something about it. That action was drastic. The city trapped and killed the 10 to 20 coyotes that were in that city.

The city of Chicago, one of the few urban areas to have a study done on coyote populations, figures it has around 2,000 critters roaming around.

So why are cities so attractive to coyotes?

Experts figure there’s one big reason. Coyotes lay low out in the country because they can be hunted or shot at. They have a fear of human and human surroundings because they know it’s risky territory.

Cities, however, have become sort of a coyote preserve since hunting is not allowed in urban areas. They can find food easily in the trash cans in people’s alleys or among the other smaller creatures scurrying around.

So far, there have been no documented attacks of coyotes on people in city areas. But the experts point out that has coyotes become more comfortable in their urban settings, they’ll have less and less fear of humans. While coyotes are generally shy, nocturnal animals, like any wild animal they’ll get bolder and braver over time as they learn when and where they’re safe.

So what do you think should be done about the coyote situation? Is it a problem that needs some kind of fix? Are there things we can do to coyote-proof our suburbs? Share your ideas here.