Caring for a Coyote

By Kate MacNeil, Education Coordinator,
Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre –

The call came in from a Richmond resident. Their dogs had chased down a coyote and they felt terrible. The animal seemed exhausted and looked ill. Luckily the coyote sought refuge in an old pen and the homeowner managed to close the door. With the help of the Humane Society the coyote was picked up and brought to the Centre.

It only took a quick glace to know he had a severe case of mange. From his shoulders to the tip of his tail were almost bare, scabbed and irritated. Not only would this have been extremely painful but it also would have been difficult for the animal to keep warm.

The good news was that mange was easily treatable with four injections, a week apart. The bad news was would this animal tolerate the stress of being confined for four weeks? We set him up in one of the large outdoor cages, in a quiet corner of the compound. To our surprise the coyote seemed almost relaxed. He would sit almost knowingly in the corner, as if he understood why he was here. Just as we breathed a sigh of relief, it was time for his second injection. His first injection was given at the vet during his examination -while he was sedated!! He was tolerating being confined but how was he going to feel about a poke in the backside? Likely not great!

Most of the animals we dealt with were babies or small enough to handle with thick gloves. This would not work for the coyote and after much discussion the dreaded “C word” came up- catchpole.

As we approached him he just looked at us with big sad eyes. As we got closer he still made no attempt to get away. As we gently and very loosely placed the loop around his neck, we realized, we did not have to tighten it, he just laid there. I like to think it was because he knew we were helping him.

The next two doses went just as smoothly. His hair was starting to grow back and we were discussing when to release him, he answered that question by almost chewing the cage apart in one night, as if he knew it was time to go.

We drove him back to a wooded area close to where he was found. We did not want to release him on the road so we walked through brush and woods. When we opened the cage, he was off like a flash. The path that had taken us ten minutes to walk took him only seconds cross. We barely got to say good luck. He looked magnificent running through the woods, across the road and into a field.

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