Letter: Siren of the wild?

Your story on all the bears and their bare facts was wonderful. But maybe another story is due on a certain wild animal that has none of the endearing qualities of black bears. I’m speaking of coyotes.

Once associated only with the Wild West, they have apparently moved East and can, it is said, be found all up and down the Appalachians and eastern seaboard. That’s what I have heard anyway, but I never believed they were actually in Rappahannock County until the other evening . . . .

That’s when the siren at the Amissville Volunteer Fire Department went off, and then shortly thereafter, as if in answer to that siren, I could hear perching howls that sounded like a chorus. A coyote howl? Not one but a pack?

Has anyone in the county had a similar experience? Has anyone actually seen a coyote? Is there a story here?

Pat Bland
Amissville

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1 Comment

  1. YES! I moved to Sperryville five years ago and lived on Woodward Road for 2.5 years. While there I had almost daily sightings of Black Bears, who were on a regular feeding trail to the rear of the property. Two years ago, I moved to a small farm house on Eldon Farms in Woodville. I’m surrounded by pasture land so I don’t see my bear friends anymore. And I miss seeing them very much. They are such magnificent creatures. But — the first night I spent at my new house was the first time I ever heard a real coyote. And since that time, I regularly hear them — usually in the wee hours of the morning (between 2-4). There is apparently at least one pack on Eldon Farms, if not several packs. This has been verified by “the guys” who work the farm and John Genho, the farm manager. When coyotes have pups, they hunt and bring food back to the den for their young. When the food is shared, the pups have a celebratory howling, appreciation party. So — if you hear lots and lots of voices, it’s most likely a pack with pups being fed. If you hear only a few — it’s a pack of adults.

    Coyotes often hunt in pairs, are quite smart, and have even been known to send one member of the pack out to attract the attention of a dog or other animal in order to lure it back within killing distance of the pack. They love chickens and eggs — so if you have chickens, be good to them and build a nice, sturdy, high fence. You might even want to think about electrifying it to protect your beloved egg producers.

    Eldon Farms traps and kills the coyotes on the farm. And although I’m not a huge fan of such practices, I realize that having packs of coyotes roaming a 7,600-acre working cattle farm that has approximately 800 head of calves born each spring (I actually heard John tell someone this so it’s not off the top of my head) is a very bad idea for the newborn calves. So — it’s a necessity to rid the farm of these unwanted guests. I have often seen coyotes a dusk skulking across the pastures around my house. And one evening, when I was on my front porch calling one of my dogs, I looked over in the field and about 500 yards from me, I saw what looked like a dark, medium-sized dog. It stood there and glared at me very brazenly. Then it finally turned and trotted away.

    I was totally amazed to realize this was a coyote because the gait as it moved across the pasture was not that of a dog. Coyotes are usually much less brazen and in fact, generally stay away from people, pets, etc. I’ve seen this same coyote two more times in the space of about a month — so I’m watching my cat who I allow outside very closely and never leave her outside after the sun goes down.

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