From the Farm:
Published in the Casper Journal March 22, 2011
We recently moved to Wyoming from Las Vegas. For that reason, I’m not totally “up” on my Wyoming wildlife. In fact, it took me a while before I could differentiate between an antelope and a deer. (Don’t worry ... I’ve got it down now.)
Still, in Las Vegas we generally saw roadrunners and tortoises in our neighborhood. Now we have a plethora of deer, antelope, Canada geese and rabbits.
Although I’m a bit slow at figuring out the wildlife, I was still surprised when I was awakened early one morning last week. It was dark, about 4:30 a.m., and I heard a loud barking outside my window. It was one of those freezing “negative teen” nights, and I wondered why a dog would be out and about the neighborhood. My husband was gone, and I lay in bed listening to the barking for another minute before I sensed that something was wrong.
Hurrying to the back door, I flipped on the light and saw a pack (well, several) animals just outside the window. One of them, his hindquarters covered in blood, was barking a loud, odd bark at two others who were circling him.
I woke up my two oldest boys. “There’s a pack of wolves outside of our house,” I said. The boys were awake immediately and followed me to the back door.
“Those aren’t wolves, those are coyotes,” my son corrected, a bit exasperated at my lack of intelligence. “My mistake,” I murmured, wondering what the difference was.
My daughter joined us then. “We just watched a movie about coyotes in school yesterday,” she said excitedly.
“How timely,” I replied. “Now we’ve got our very own pack at our house.” More of the children gathered, their noses pressed to the glass door.
“What about the chickens?” exclaimed my son. We ran upstairs and peered out at the chicken coop. Although coyote tracks were all around our house in the fresh snow, there weren’t any tracks heading towards the coop. I was grateful for my diligent son who’d closed the hen house late the night before in his pajamas and boots.
Back downstairs, we watched the fierce animals barking and circling. They didn’t seem at all interested in the faces pressed up against the glass behind them.
“What are we going to do?” asked my son. We had been so enthralled in watching the coyotes that we hadn’t felt any fear.
After a few more minutes of watching, I decided that the coyotes were indeed fierce and dangerous, and I should act.Casper Journal
I called Metro Animal Control, and told the nice operator lady what we were witnessing.
“Are you sure they aren’t dogs?” she asked, kindly. “No. I’m sure.” I responded. Give me some credit.
“Then I’ll have to call Game and Fish,” she said. “We only deal with domesticated animals.” We waited a few more minutes, cameras in hand, watching the coyotes, until they backed off of the injured one and drifted off into the field next to us. Just then, two trucks pulled up at the house.
The wardens at the front door had guns and were ready for adventure. “The coyotes just left,” I explained. Still, the men took their spotlights and weapons and went up and down the road, peering into the dark fields.
When they came to the door again, they told us that coyote tracks were everywhere, but the animals were gone.
“Next time, just shoot them,” one officer told me. “You don’t need a license to kill predators.”
“Yeah, sure,” I said, not wanting to admit that I was a city girl. Shooting coyotes was mentally added to my “can do” list.
The trucks left and we all tried to sleep for the last few minutes of the night, but our eyes were wide open. When the kids left for school, no animals were in sight, and the children all walked safely to the bus stop.
When my husband came home that night there were no coyotes to shoot, and unfortunately the excitement was over. But, we can report that we’ve had another experience with Wyoming wildlife, a good Casper tale to send back to Las Vegas.
Don’t worry. Next time I’ll correctly differentiate between a wolf and a coyote. And if I adjust to Wyoming wildlife a bit more, I may even have a gun ready.