Nature Notes

Vol. II December 1, 1924 No. 15


Yesterday the Naturalist mushed over the trail to pay a visit to the Mountaineers on their annual winter outing in Paradise Valley. During the night some 2 or 3 inches of snow had fallen, covering the old crust, and animal tracks were unusually distinct. Between Carter Falls and Narada Falls there were literally thousands of coyote trails made during the early morning as it had snowed most of the night. Either there were a great many animals or each had covered a great deal of ground. Probably the latter as food is scarce at this time of year. On the smooth surface of the road near Narada Falls the snow was trampled down over a considerable area where apparently the coyotes had played tag in the dawn. Snow covered logs across the river in many places presented the appearance of well-beaten trails, and the base of every scrubby tree had been inspected for a possible rabbit or grouse. It seems to me that I saw more coyote tracks on yesterdays trip of six miles than I have seen in two years before.

The coyote, sometimes called the Prairie wolf, is about the size of a collie dog and similar in appearance but of a brownish gray color. Without doubt Canus lotrans is the most abundant of any of the preditory animals inhabiting the region. Formally he was a plains animal almost exclusively but the advance of civilization has driven him to the hills where he as adapted himself to the new environment and prospered at the expense of the other birds and animals. An interesting result has been the changing of many of his habits, particularly the lessening of his tendency to "yelp at the moon" on clear nights, and the evening serenades so familiar on the prairies are seldom heard in the mountains.

During the recent cold weather coyote have become unusually bold, their tracks often being found within a few feet of the dwellings, under the stables, and along the drives before the hotels and offices.

Recently a dead animal was found just back of National Park Inn. Apparently it had died a natural death from starvation or disease as no marks was found upon it. A few days later the spot was visited again and it was found that other coyote had come and devoured the carcass.

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