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Wild Animals/Coyote pack vocalization

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Question
I'm here in western NC west of Asheville...while I have a lot of woods with no trails or roads nearby, you would call it rural but close to urban on the edges.  A pack of coyotes travels in the wooded areas, and at odd times will go into one helluva eerie yip-howl as a group, hard and fast for 20 seconds, maybe more....and then dead silence, and I do mean dead. Kaput.  Never one yip more.  I have three pups that go out in the woods, and when this happens close by I reel 'em in.  My question is I figured this was a pack-kill thing, but in reading maybe it's more of a 'joy of life' and reuniting of the pack.  I'd LOVE to know what they are saying and such...not a hunter, don't shoot, just want to know...when it's close to the house, like 200 yards, it's REALLY discomforting.  Deep thanks for your input in advance.

Bob

Answer
Dear Bob

Thank you for your question

I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

Gary San Julian (http://news.psu.edu/story/141205/2007/01/15/research/probing-question-why-do-coy) and Melsissa Schindler say that howling is a basic communication behaviour in coyotes and has several functions. Coyotes live in packs comprising family members.

1. Coyotes may call to find other pack members that have been hunting by themselves. The howl can be heard over long distances and when pack members start howling to one another, they can all find each other at the end of a hunt and come back together again.

2. Coyotes also howl to advertise their presence to other packs in the area. If various packs know where other packs are, they are less likely to stray into another pack's territory. A small pack can sound like a substantial threat to curious coyotes in other territories. training.

3. Larger predators can threaten small puppies. If a threat comes near a coyote’s den, the parents howl to distract the unwelcome visitor. Coyotes scatter away from the den so the predator follows the howling adults and moves away from the puppies.

http://www.urbanwildness.com/urbanwildness.com/Coyote_Howling.html says that coyotes may howl in response to a siren or for joy during play. Coyotes may produce a distrss call if they feel threatened by a dog.

From the information you have given, I suspect that the coyotes are howling to advertise their presence to other coyotes so they avoid conflict. This could be in response to scent signals produced by other coyotes near territorial boundaries, although I can't confirm this.

I hope this helps.

All the best

Jonathan  

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Jonathan Wright

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I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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