Yesterday, when we came home from a trip to town, Aly found tracks near the outhouse. They were so small she guessed they were marten tracks, but they were coyote prints.
A short time later, we had confirmation. A coyote came through our front yard. We’ve seen this one before. She’s recognizable by her lame left fore paw, which won’t hold her weight. We first saw her last October. She came through the compound in the middle of the afternoon, and nosed around one of the compost bins. We may have seen her on Mud Bay two days before that—a coyote we watched run along the tide line there had a strange “floppy” gait that could have been this injured coyote running.
Yesterday, she seemed quite at home in our yard—alert, a bit skittish, but fairly comfortable. She seemed to see us in the window as Aly and I took photos (Aly took the ones here). She poked around the windbreak for a while, then spent some time in the garden, and checked out the compost piles. Voles tend to spend a lot of time in there, so she was probably hunting for them.
We first became aware of coyote visits to the compound a year ago last Christmas Eve. We’d had several inches of fine, powdery snow, and found fresh coyote tracks when we stepped outside in the morning. That winter a coyote visited every week or two, usually coming along the beach. One night it walked to within ten feet of where Aly and I stood. We don’t know if this is the same animal. If so, she got her paw injury sometime in 2009.
Coyotes are fairly strange to us. They inhabit mainland Southeast Alaska, but generally stick close to the river valleys. Growing up in island communities, I had no contact with them as a youngster. They seem fairly common around here, and a recent article in the Juneau paper says their numbers are on the rise.
We’re undecided about what, if anything, to do about the coyote in our compound. She probably wouldn’t be much of a threat to the cats, should they get outside, since she’s lame. She’s welcome to any and all rodents in the yard, although we’d prefer she didn’t try to eat our local minks or ermines. We have no chickens to be concerned about. For the time being, she’s just another wild neighbor, part of what makes this life so interesting.