Archive for the ‘Carnivorans’ Category

west virginia cougar

This image suddenly started floating around my Facebook Feed. The image is of a “mountain lion” (oh I loathe that name for them!) that was spotted roaming in Wayne County, West Virginia.

I tried to do a reverse Google images search for it, but it didn’t show anything.  Sightings of cougars and black leopards are a dime a dozen in the Eastern US, and dodgy photos of them are valued at even less.

I’m skeptical.

This cougar is out in the middle of the day and appears to be unconcerned with the truck. That’s really atypical behavior for these animals, and any that wandered in from the West are going to have a healthy fear of people.

I don’t recognize those pines or evergreens as being any kind of native pine. The closest I can get to them are Virginia pines, and they really don’t fit the bill at all.

Now, cougars have been confirmed in Tennessee and Kentucky, and Wayne County borders on Kentucky, though not anywhere near where these animals have been sighted.

I would love for this image to be a genuine Wayne County cougar, but I’m not at all convinced.

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A busted up log, where grubs might be:


And then some scat:


You may notice the black bear hair to the right of the scat.

I tried to get a better photo of it, but it’s obviously black bear hair. There isn’t another animal around here with hair like this.

black bear hair

We still have plenty of bears around these parts, but they are unbelievably elusive.

I walked into one last summer, but they normally keep a good distance from people.

Which is good for both species.


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I’ve only seen one of these foxes in person. They simply avoid coming out in the middle of day around here.

They prefer to stay deep in the woods, where they can take up a tree if something should spook them.


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A bobcat takes off after smelling where coyotes have been:

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Beautiful coyote

This is by far the best video yet!

This one is pretty nicely furred out.

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Pissed off coyote

I got this one last night. I think it’s a male, judging from that leg cock.

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Coyote scent-marking

I got a lot of footage from this single coyote bitch from Friday night.  This is the video of her initial approach.

She comes in uphill from the scent marks, which gives her a view of any potential rivals or threats. She is also approaching from downwind, so she can smell if there is a human with a gun waiting for her or just a impudent  young coyote that needs a good thrashing.

The scent-marking behavior is something I’ve only seen in domestic dogs  in male dogs when a bitch is in heat. Both coyotes and dogs have scent glands on their feet, and when they urinate and kick up like that, they are leaving plenty of chemical communication.

I’ve been trying to get extended coyote behavior on camera for quite some time now. This isn’t the LA suburbs, where coyotes go out walking in the middle of the day. This is West Virginia, where everyone is armed and nearly everyone wants to kill a coyote

So you have to have a pretty quiet trail camera that doesn’t have obnoxious flashing lights, and you have to have some decent attractant.  All it took was a brand of coyote urine that is normally used to cover up the scent on an electronic caller.

As nice as it is to get bobcats and gray foxes on the camera, the coyotes top them all. You can really see in the behavior this animal how it is so much like a domestic dog. 99.3 percent of their DNA is shared, and although they rarely cross in the wild, they are pretty close to each other. One is a creature that lives by being part of man’s society and using its wits to ingratiate itself with us, while the other lives under the constant worry of our violence. And both are doing very well.


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