Coyotes are useful to farmers when they feed on gophers, rats, mice and other rodent pests - or so the encyclopedia says. During the winter, they are not as useful when wild food can not be found. During this time, the coyote often attacks and kills small livestock and poultry on near-by ranches and farms." In my l876 encyclopedia it is called "a small, barking prairie wolf." In 1960 it was pronounced KI-oht or ky-0HT-ee, an American prairie wolf living in holes in the ground or among rocks. Its yellowish gray fur, sometimes tipped with black, "is used to make coats, lap robes and gloves."
Lap robes? Yes, sleighs, buggies and wagons didn’t have automatic heaters.
Instead heavy, furry covers were made of animal skins and lined with a cozy soft material to protect rich and poor, farmers and doctors, children and lovers - from having frozen feet and hands in severe weather. To make a lap robe from a bear or wolf, farmers were protecting baby calves, hens and chickens and other sources of food for wild animals.
Six weeks ago I was ready to get in the car to go to the Sunday celebration for two Rock Bridge graduates: Oliver Dexter Gerard and Christopher Graham.
I was vaguely aware that Mems, our neighbor’s dog, was barking cautiously and staying under her favorite bush. Just before leaving, I discovered a coyote in my yard, gobbling up ripe mulberries! Nobody would believe this so I grabbed the camera, snapped a shot though the living room window, stepped closer to snap from the front porch window. No change in dog or predator! When I cracked the porch door, Mems bounded toward the coyote. The wild animal fought her for an instant. Snap shutter. Mems backed up to the sidewalk. I thought it over and was numb. They fought again and I snapped again. I stepped out and yelled:
"Yip, Get him!"
Mems flew at the coyote, and took it even farther than her established territory! The two were about the same size.
These prairie wolves, exist by capturing, killing and feeding on other animals. Ask the neighbor children who have recently lost their prized 4-H club hens, chickens and guinea fowl. Noisy guineas, related to pheasants, are raised for food and to keep wild predators away from poultry and other small animals. They’re screechy-chattery and their racket sometimes wakes farmers when thieves or animals are in the poultry yard at night. When I wrote about coyotes for "My First 84 Years," I received calls from a "boomer" generation, some quoting scientific names, some critical of my having called a trapper to rescue us from increasing destruction by these small wolves. They’re not easy to trap, even when the proper scent baits the trap. I’ve seen as many as three coyotes at one time, as near as 30 yards from where I stood - behind my picture window, of course.
Coyotes are cunning in avoiding traps and they rarely attack human beings. Early farmers, appealed to their government for protection from these small wolves and Boone County joined southwestern states in offering "bounty" payment to persons who hunted and killed these predators. My 1996 encyclopedia, almost 1,600 pages long, doesn’t even include the word "coyote" but it does list "bounty hunter" - a person who pursues wild animals for which a bounty is offered. You’d guess, by this omission, that the problem is getting better. No, it’s getting worse!
When a few of us rural residents get together, we share incidents of coyote damage. No one else has been visited by mulberry-hungry animals and no prairie wolf had fought the resident dog!