How the Hen House Turns: Strolling Coyote, Poncho and Raccoons

How the Hen House Turns
Column by Carolyn A. (Cary) Neeper, Ph. D.

Strolling Coyote, Poncho and Raccoons

The coyotes are back in Walnut Canyon, far off somewhere. Or it could be Pueblo Canyon that reverberates with their cascading chorus of high yips at 3-5 a.m. every day this week.

Their concert reminds me of the days in the ’70s when a singular coyote haunted our neighborhood with his tortured sopranino yodeling

One day Strolling Coyote came by, the one who sang as if being strangled, who also made a habit of moving along the back fence, setting all the neighborhood dogs to barking their heads off.

Poncho, our young “Santa Fe shepherd,” wasn’t old enough to know better, so he decided to make friends with the big handsome fellow standing on all fours at the back gate. Nose to nose they met through the chain link fence. No barking. No sign of anything untoward. Suddenly, Poncho crumpled into a ball, tail tucked way under, and raced for the back porch where I stood watching, wondering what nasty message Coyote had whispered to our innocent pet dog.

Now 30 years later, DeeDee, unlike Poncho (and 20 pounds heavier) doesn’t let coyotes worry her. She and Scooter noisily take them on when they dare to fill the canyon with their terrified-infant howling imitations. The coyotes don’t come close to the fence when the dogs are out.

I had left DeeDee’s dog door open the night she and Scooter chased a huge raccoon up the apple tree next to the house. The din woke half the town, and I had a tough time convincing the dogs to come into the house. That raccoon could have done some real damage to them, if it had decided to. 

Like the well-trained canines they are, DeeDee and Scooter, after some stalling with a variety of objections and complaints, came into the house. I watched the raccoon take off over the fence, then let the dogs out to convince him to stay out.

I don’t mind raccoons taking a huge bite out of every apple on the trees, but when they break down the chicken doors and commit senseless murder, they will find themselves unwelcome.

The same goes for coyotes ─ nursing mothers and beautiful young blonds can have their kills when our luck runs out or our locks and vigilance fails ─  but not if we can help it.



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