Coyote Wild The Winter battle for survival

The search for food never ends, and often the Coyote can be found alone, wandering the wilderness in search of opportunity. The Coyote can also be very social, and live in loose knit packs similar to the Wolf. Their diet consist of primarily meat, and they will hunt anything from the smallest rodents to Deer, Rabbits, Birds, Reptiles, and Fish. Even though the Coyote is a great predator, they can often be found scavenging for food. On some occasions they will follow the tracks of Wolves in search of scraps or to perhaps just to stay behind their enemy for safety as their only adversaries besides Man, are the Cougar and the Wolf.
The Coyote is very adaptable and can live high up in the mountains or it can survive in the hot desert and has even been found roaming some cities. A close relative of the Gray Wolf, the Coyote is a smart and clever animal which has spread out all over its North American home in which there are 19 different subspecies recognized today.
Like other Canids, Coyote have a keen sense of hearing. They can detect the slightest movements of rodents under the thick snow. After pin pointing the exact location of its prey, they leap high in the air penetrating through deep snow to the bottom to surgically capture its quarry.
During a recent encounter with Coyote in Yellowstone National Park, I was treated first hand on how violent and vicious these wild dogs can be. A weak Mule Deer with a broken leg found itself out in the open exposed to the frigid cold where a pack of Coyote dispatched it as if they were hungry Wolves.
After a nasty squabble with each other, a brutal tug-of-war ensued as all involved wanted ownership of the fresh meet.
Fierce competition for food invokes a hierarchy of dominant behavior and this individual was prepared to fight to the death just for the right to feed.
One by one this fearless Coyote battled for the chance to eat in order to live another day. The loud brawl attracted scavenger birds like Raven and Magpie and Bald Eagles.
Confusion during the fight allows for opportunities to the other Coyote.
A furious battle ensues and continues for some time.
Displays of aggression are common when several individuals meet up near a carcass. In Yellowstone, survival is extremely difficult as opportunities are scarce and food is not abundant.
Amazingly, in the end, hunger drove the loan Coyote to fight off three other rivals for the right to eat. The accomplishment gives this K9 the chance to pick off the best meat from this carcass.
The other Coyote retreat while the rogue canid protects its hard earned meal from any intruders.
Even I got the evil eye for a moment.
Hunger brings on challenges from the others who have sat and waited their turn to feed.
A hierarchy of dominance forms as the chaos continues.
Scavengers look for opportunities to steal.
And run away with the spoils.
Ultimately everyone gets a chance to feed.
After a good meal there is always time for cleaning. The Pack comes together after eating to push their faces through the snow to clean their snouts off.

This was an incredible series of events to witness, especially in winter. Photographing the Coyote in the winter when their coats are thickest and full gives them the most beautiful appearance of the year despite their ferocity. They allowed me a small glimpse of their habits and behavior as I watched from a distance using Canon's 600mm F4L IS Lens along with the newest Type III extenders on Gitzo Tripod, Zenelli Carbon Fiber Gimabal, Really Right Stuff Long Lens Support System and Lenscoat.

Created By
Scott Joshua Dere


One of my favorite wildlife encounters of 2016 was with the Coyotes of Lamar Valley, Yellowstone national Park. Enjoy this photo essay of their daily fight for survival during the long harsh winter. 

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