Coyote with badger
Watercolor by Ann Meyer Maglinte

Secrets of the Oak Woodlands: Plants and Animals among California’s Oaks

by Kate Marianchild


Excerpts from the coyote chapter


“The first time I slept in my yurt, a cacophony of yips and howls sliced the night, sailing through my open window from a point about twenty stone’s throws away. Twelve years later I still get goose bumps when I hear coyotes. Their crooning carries me back along moonlit trails toward a primal wildness I long to rejoin. I want to sit skin-to-fur with the “song dogs,” muzzle raised, howling to their eerie harmonies.

Coyotes are keystone carnivores who keep their local ecosystems healthy by controlling populations of small plant-eating and nest-raiding mammals. They also strengthen populations of deer and other ungulates by culling genetically weak individuals from the gene pool. These intelligent and resilient animals have managed to expand their range across North America in the face of more than a century of extermination campaigns by humans…” (p. 71-72)

“If you stake out a ground squirrel colony, especially at dawn or dusk, you might be lucky enough to observe the legendary relationship between Coyote and Badger. These two species appear to be hunting partners, often trekking in tandem toward ground squirrel colonies, where they scan the turf together for likely meals. While badgers rummage below ground for ground squirrels, coyotes nab the ones that burst out of burrows, catching about 30 percent more ground squirrels than they would if hunting alone. Coyotes get the better end of the deal, but they do help badgers by guiding them to fresh ground squirrel sign…” (p. 73-74)