Saturday, June 7, 2014

June 7, Saturday. South of Hayden Valley. Coyote Kills Elk WARNING GRAPHIC

We spent most of the morning charging electronics and posting the last two entries. Then I read in the Canyon Village Lounge.

After I finished my book, we drove to the meadow up above the ones south of Alumn Creek, from there we continued a little south until we saw a packed viewpoint. Naturally, we stopped.

Rangers were there, answering questions about the scene below. Mule deer and elk hid their calves, then go off to graze. A coyote had discovered a elk calf and killed it.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IS GRAPHIC.

The cat family kills by going for the jugular. Bears, which kill more calves than coyotes or wolves, have such strong jaws that the calf dies quickly. The canine family (wolves, coyotes) kill by biting the calf until it is immobilized then sitting aside while it bleeds out. The ranger had watched the event and said that it took about 20 minutes.

Fortunately, by the time we arrived the calf was already dead.

The coyote rips at the calf's innards, legs, etc, to get at the meat (rather than nibbling in the meat while it's still attached to the carcass).

The coyote came and went several times. Each time it left, it rolled in the grass and rubbed its face in the grass. The ranger said that was to remove the smell of the kill so as not to attract wolves and bears to it (the coyote). if you look closely in the pictures, you can see the blood on its nose. After removing the smell, it laid away from the kill site while it's belly expanded.

It then returned to feast some more. In it's absence, the ravens helped themselves. When the coyote returned, he charged at the ravens. But, they waited nearby for him to leave again.

The ranger said that when the cow returned, she might sniff the calf, but she wouldn't stay by the carcass. If she had been then when the coyote arrived, she would have defended her calf and killed the coyote. We saw a cow return, look down toward the carcass and leave.

The ranger said that the bears and wolves could smell it from about a mile and a half away and it may be a good site to wait for them to appear.

We waited and waited.

After about two hours of waiting, I learned that just around the corner, a grizzly bear had spent twenty minutes swimming in the river before crossing the street and crossing the meadow!

We went back to the lodge dining room, had a prime rib dinner, then returned to camp.

Mishap: Mule step backwards, tripped over a rock, and fell back, landing on his back and hitting his head. He felt a little dazed but was ok. Fortunately, the camp host is near our site and in case of an emergency, they'd call the ranger. But, we're glad it didn't turn into an emergency.

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