Archive for the ‘Carnivorans’ Category

Visiting raccoon

raccoon visitor

A raccoon came by to inspect my new trail camera set-up.

I took the squirrel head and guts and buried them six inches deep. Then I piled some logs on top of the burial site. I topped it off with a bit of red fox urine to make it really interesting.

The location is just off a well-worn game trail. I’m not really trying to get raccoons on the camera, but once they start coming the more wary carnivorans should come soon.

That’s the hope anyway.

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running bear

All over the world, we hear the story of bears. The polar bear may die out due to climate change. The grizzly bear lives only in tiny pockets of its former range in the Lower 48. The spectacled bear is not long for this world, and the giant panda is an avatar of the movement to save endangered species.

American black bears are not among the endangered or threatened, though.  They are doing well in such densely populated states as New Jersey.

They are also doing quite well in the wild and wonderful land of West Virginia. When I was a boy, my grandpa loathed bears. If anyone mentioned a bear popping up near his land, he would always go “There isn’t room enough for me and bear in these woods.”

I don’t know where this bear hatred came from, but his ancestors were small farmers who may have lost hogs or sheep to the odd roving bear.

I remember one year that something knocked over his 200-pound deer feeder. It obviously had to have been a black bear. At that time of year, a bear would have been in hyperphagic mode, and the taste of cracked corn in the deer feeder would have been a pleasant repast on a balmy October day.

He never caught the bear in question, but I knew that he really wanted to. He wanted to shoot it for daring to be in this civilized world.

The reason that bear never got killed is because its kind learned long ago to live with us.

And the best way to do that is to avoid our kind at all costs.

By the time I was born, there were only about 500 bears in the state of West Virginia, and now there are about 10,000. Those 10,000 descend from those 500 survivors, who taught their cubs how to thrive in a land where the guns are loaded.

If you see a bear in West Virginia, well over 9 times out 10, all you’ll see is a black form charging into the timber to get as far from you as possible.

The bear that thrives is the bear that knows that the best thing to do when encountering one of us is to run away.

I know that other black bear populations where they sometimes hunt people or, at the very least, tear up garbage.

But not here, they survive only because they are afraid. Fear makes them good neighbors.

And that is the only way a bear can thrive.



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Old Charlie comes by

But doesn’t stick around.


With this red fox photo, I have now captured all three of West Virginia’s wild canids on trail camera.


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Bobcat on the prowl

I’ve been wanting to get one on the trail cam all summer. Finally paid off!

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Maybe a little too close! His butt almost took down the camera!


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The trail cam spooked this coyote before it ran off.  If you can look closely and have a bit of understanding of domestic dog body language, the fear and nervousness exhibited here are unmistakable.


I posted this video on Facebook a few days ago, but Youtube’s resolution is just a lot better. You can tell this is a very typical Eastern coyote, which is a coyote that has some wolf and domestic dog ancestry.

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Coyotes in Panama. Very different from the ones you've seen on this blog.

Coyotes in Panama. Very different from the ones you’ve seen on this blog. 

A few years ago, I noted that it wouldn’t be long before coyotes crossed the Panama Canal. I even made an April Fools prank that coyotes had even made it to Colombia.

It turns out that these animals are pretty darn hard to parody, because it turns out that an article recently published in the journal Checklist has documented their presence beyond the canal.

They are now South America bound. If they do make it to Colombia they will be the first wild Canis to be in found in South America since the dire wolf went extinct.

Researchers found that Panamanian coyotes prefer to inhabit cattle ranching areas, mainly because those areas are also where cougars and jaguars have largely been extirpated. The also readily prey upon poultry, calves, and small dogs in these areas.

The coyote now ranges from Labrador to Alaska south to Panama.

Right now, there are only two species of canid that can be found in both North and South America:  the bush dog, which could be a potential competitor for the southbound coyotes, and Urocyon gray fox, which has been given top billing on this site in recent months.

I would almost put my money that one day there will be three. Canis latrans keeps pushing the boundaries of what we think we know about it.

They aren’t just survivors.

The are thrivers.

We kill off the big predators, and they sail in to exploit the new niches that are opened up.

We’ve come up with all sorts of creative ways to kill them, and they’ve just expanded– almost to spite us.

And you have to admire that.

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