Monday, December 31, 2012

Dinner on the hoof. Nature is not kind

On December 30, of this year, we happened to be out in a remote area when, in mid afternoon , we were treated to a serenade by a pack of unhappy coyotes.  We couldn't tell, at the time, what had upset them so. While we couldn't see them, it was clear that they were not far off.

Turning around to make our way back, we reached this spot, which upset the coyotes greatly.  While we were there, they yipped and howled.  What does this scene depict?

Well, this is the end, the way it often occurs in nature.

The first and second photos show an antelope carcass, with the leg stuck in the top two strands of a fence.  The bottom photograph is of a tuff of antelope hide with, literally, a little gore.  The numerous footprints on the ground are coyote footprints.

Thee carcass had been picked absolutely clean.  No meat of any kind, and no entrails remained.  Blood, remained, however, on the ground and in the nasal cavity of the antelope.  And it was bright red and fresh.  

So what story does this tell?

Near here there is a moderate sized winter band of antelope. Antelope pack up in the winter.  This fence separates a pasture from a rail line.  The antelope cross this fence easily and did several times while we were there. But they do not like to jump a fence. Unlike deer, there's something about fences that they have a hard time seeing in order to jump. They will jump a fence, but they usually deliberate it a fair amount first, and quite often they'll go under one before they go over one, although this is a sheep tight fence, and they have a hard time going under those.  None the less, they did several times while we were there.

But they don't like to go over them in a hurry, and they don't always judge them right if they do.

Winter bands of antelope always have coyotes lurking around the edges somewhere. They hope to pick one off if they have trouble in the snow, are little, or get sick.  Or, as we see here, stuck in a fence.  

Something scared this antelope into this fence.  Probably the coyotes themselves. It's been a mild winter, up until just recently, and that means that, save for lack of water, it's probably been hard on coyotes but easy on antelope.  Unless, of course, the antelope are in a big brush area, and can be run into a fence.

And this is also the end, as nature has it.  This antelope wasn't killed by the fence, but by its pursuers.  They still were around when we were there.  And even though all they left was a little hide and bones, they weren't happy about having us around at all.

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