Coyote versus raccoon results may surprise you

- February 20th, 2012

Everyone knows how much I enjoy playing with trail cameras. Its not only a past-time, it’s a real passion of mine.

Passionate about trail-cams? Is that even possible?

 

The use of wildlife surveillance is not only addictive, but is as close to hunting as it gets. The thrill of the catch is there, and knowledge and understanding your quarry is also required for proper trail cam set-ups, just like hunting. And as with hunting, you must have at least some comprehension of wildlife patterns and movements to be a successful trail-camer.

 

Even after taking (& studying) tens of thousands of trail-cam images over the past 7 years or so, I do occasionally surprise myself by capturing a rarity or some neat occurrence in the outdoors.

 

For example, I have taken several trailcam images of flying-squirrels which is a real rarity captured on surveillance camera.(At least for me it is)  Above all else, I find hunting with trail cameras to be great education and a fabulous tool for learning more about wildlife behaviour and interaction.

 

This past weekend, I captured a series of photos which, I believe, has helped shed some light on a subject I have often wondered about.

Coyotes versus Raccoon

 

Do coyotes actively pursue raccoons, and if so, are they successful at it?

 

Coyote predation on the raccoon is something I had secretly hoped was going-on behind the scenes, it would be the one silver lining in an otherwise dark room with our burgeoning coyote population. If these yotes could help manage the coon population they would, at least, be serving as a biological control for another critter in an apparent population boom.(Much in the same way the red fox helps control squirrel numbers in some areas.)

 

Well, finally I have some hard evidence on the subject and the results may surprise you!

Blog1

Here in this first photo, a raccoon is seen on the skidoo trail.

Blog2

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The raccoon walks off the skidoo trail and into some brush on the left.

Blog4

13-second later a coyote appears on the skidoo trail staring in the direction of the raccoon.

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Mr coyote is wondering where the raccoon disappeared to

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The coyote sniffs the coon tracks while standing there.

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16-seconds later, the raccoon suddenly returns into to view; (see glowing eyes)staring straight at the coyote at a distance of perhaps 20 feet.

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A stand-off ensues – neither the coyote nor the raccoon move a muscle.

Blog9

Coyote and raccoon continue the staring contest

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18-seconds later coyote can be seen with its head turned; this time looking down the skidoo trail and away from the raccoon. The coon has now disappeared from view.

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Coyote continues looking down skidoo trail and away from the raccoon. There is no real concern or interest in pursuing the coon at this point.

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Coyote eventually looks back in the direction of where the raccoon had been, but it is gone.

Blog13

Now the coyote too disappears from view. It trotted down the skidoo trail without taking a single step towards the raccoon.

Evidentally the coon was not too scared of the coyote either, as if it perceived there to be no real threat. In the early images you can clearly see the coon had disappeared from view and then came back to check-out the coyote.

So, do eastern coyotes hunt raccoons? 

According to this photo series, coyotes have no interest what-so-ever in raccoons as prey. (At least this particular coyote didn’t)

Outdoorsguy

Footnote:
To show how brave these raccoons can be, check-out these photos provided by ‘matt’. You have to look closely at what is poking out of the bear’s bait bucket:

Mattcoon1

Mattcoon2

That’s one brave little coon!!!

 

 

Categories: Conservation

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52 comments

  1. dave says:

    Interesting series of photographs, but a little bit deceiving. Growing up with a father who was an active trapper and hunter I have had many opportunity to observe predatory conflicts between wild animals and I can tell you that no two encounters are the same. In the pictures you can clearly see the raccoon move off into the trees while the coyote sniffs and weighs out his options. I can tell you that what is most likely occurring here is a defensive posture. If the raccoon had decided to flee the coyote would have immediately gone into predatory mode, but in most cases this will not happen. A wolf, bear, cougar, or any other predator (large or small) will rarely take unnecessary risks when hunting unless they are starving or feel the prey is weak enough to be killed without presenting itself as a threat. If this coyote had been starving, or the raccoon had bolted these photo’s would most likely have shown something quite different.

  2. Rick Poulin says:

    I imagine the risk/reward of a coyote taking on a raccoon prevents any serious threat to the raccoon. The risk of injury is too high for the coyote. Coons are nasty fighters.

    Have you had any experience with trapping coons Jeff? They can be a handfull on the end of a noose pole! LOL Coyotes on the other hand are quite docile/timid in similar situations.

  3. jeff.morrison says:

    Trust me Rick, I have more experience trapping coons than I’d care to mention. They are, from what I’ve seen, some tough sob’s. My father was badly bitten by a raccoon years ago and required some ‘old school’ rabies shots as a result.

    And with our ‘northern’ coons weighing 25-pounds and more, they would surely give a coyote a run for its money.

    I’m sure this fact that coons are not docile animals played a part in the coyote’s decision to do nothing. Also, if you’ve ever seen a raccoon with its pelt off..as I know you have…they’re not what I would call appetizing…just all grease and gristle..ugghhh

    Dave, you bring up some good points also…I probably shouldn’t draw any big sweeping conclusions based on one chance encounter

    Outdoorsguy

  4. jeff.morrison says:

    Dave, the only issue I have with your ‘defensive posture’ theory is the fact that the coon was initially further into the brush, but decided to come back while the coyote was standing there watching.

    This coon could have easily continued slowly down the trail; creating more distance between it and the yote, but instead the thing came back to watch the coyote.

    Outdoorsguy

  5. Iggy says:

    about 30 year ago I was walking across a farmers field with some friends, just before dark. there was one lonely tree in the field and there was a coon in it, not sure it there were young ones but we didn’t see any.

    We were walking with the farmers German Sheppard, for some unknown reason the coon jumped out of the tree and onto the dog. That coon put a beating on the poor dog, we yelled at it and tried to interfere but the coon was determined to beat this dog up. This was a farm dog, never in the house but even so, it didn’t have a chance. The coon didn’t kill it but the dog had to spend some time at the vet’s. After seeing that, I understand why the yote didn’t want anything to do with a coon, I’ve also see them in live traps and trust me, they are scary, if you see one, leave it alone

  6. Imacdon says:

    Great pictures Jeff, In a way I’m not too surprised the coyote backed off, from my own experience it
    takes a pretty good size dog to kill a racoon. Put the buckets out on Friday. Had a small boil Saturday night.
    It should run all this week.

  7. chessy says:

    my buddy coon hunts.. and some big males tear the dogs up when they cant get up a tree.. a older dog that has had its run in with coons can kill em pretty swiftly but a young dog gets tore up and learns.. i live in the country and i watched a big tom cat turn on a yote and when it got close the cat jumped on its head sunk its claws in yote and bit it at the same time the yote turned and ran away it was a young one.. just goes to show that some may be small but a smart animal like a yote wont put itself in danger for a meal

  8. Rob St Denis says:

    a nice 220 makes coons as docile as can be =) and best is, no 22 cal holes to patch up.

  9. jeff.morrison says:

    Iggy, you’re lucky that coon jumped on the dog and not you! Talk about a monkey on your back!!

    Outdoorsguy

  10. jeff.morrison says:

    imacdon, WOW…boiling in February?! Its been a few years since that happened, if I recall. Actually there was an initial early run last spring too, I know alot of people missed it because it came on so quickly. Then it got cold for a couple of weeks and things shut down again.

    Hopefully the weather doesn’t go all crazy this year and mess things up!

    Outdoorsguy

  11. jeff.morrison says:

    imacdon, just to show you the difference. Here’s a post of yours from last spring on the subject of Maple Syrup. March 31st and we were just getting into it:

    imacdon
    Submitted on 2011/03/31 at 1:20 pm

    My first Batch I went to finish was almost 70-1. My neighbours had the same results.
    Last weekend everything was ice and what I did boil was closer to the 35-1 norm.
    Looking forward to tonight may have to have a few pop’s.

  12. jeff.morrison says:

    Btw, check out the photos I just added to the bottom of this Post.

    Thanks to matt for sending them in.

    Outdoorsguy

  13. Patthedog says:

    I don’t know what it is with guys, but you get a “high” from killing animals, even when they are doing nothing to you. So very primitive.

    I hope you can switch to getting your “kicks” from the cams and just let the animals live their own lives.

  14. Rob St Denis says:

    pat, if you have read the posts on here, and that is what you concluded, then I’m afraid you are beyond help.

    sometimes people have preconceived notions of things, and refuse to look beyond the tip of their nose to learn something new.

  15. PraiseAlfie says:

    Honestly, you have to be a real “city slicker” if you think a raccoon vs. a coyote is not a slam dunk win for a raccoon. Those things can be absolutely vicious…Honey Badger vicious.

    Cool pics all the same.

  16. Hunting mom says:

    Outdoors Guy
    We too share your passion for trail cams. We have had so much fun and learned so much about wildlife since we got it. We have captured lots of deer but we have never captured a wolf or coyote. Last spring we found a dead otter and decided to put the trail cam on it. We were so sure that we would get a predator of some kind. All we got was turkey vultures and crows. Maybe some day…..

    Hunting Mom

  17. jeff.morrison says:

    ‘city slicker’..I like that.

    Outdoorsguy

  18. Hunting mom says:

    Would it be a different story if it was a wolf? What about if it was a pack of coyotes?

  19. mike jones says:

    hi jeff we had a coon problem and gave em a healthy batch of chili and exlax funny he never came back for desert though

  20. jeff.morrison says:

    Rob, my sentiments exactly!

    Obviously if Pat doesn’t realize this discussion is about Predator-Prey relations and wildlife behaviour…then I can only assume she didn’t read any of it.

    Outdoorsguy

  21. jeff.morrison says:

    PraiseAlfie, you’ll have to excuse my open-mindedness when it comes to the eastern coyote. Keep in mind, though, that along with the timber wolf and black bear..the eastern coyote(brush wolf) is one of our top predators.

    It wasn’t really a stretch, regardless of how ferocious they are, to think that a coyote would pursue a raccoon as prey. These animals are extremely powerful and have torn-up more large dogs than you can shake a stick at.

    Even if the average coyote in this region tips the scales in the 50 pound range, in a full-out battle with an 80 – 90 pound German Sheppard dog, my money is still on the yote!

    Outdoorsguy(aka City Slicker)

  22. jeff.morrison says:

    Watch it Mike, you’ll have Patthedog after you.

    Outdoorsguy

  23. jeff.morrison says:

    Hunting mom, I wish I knew if a timber wolf in the same situation would make a difference. My guess is, as Rick pointed out, there is an initial sizing-up period or risk/reward where the predator must decide whether to pursue or not.

    Probably how hungry the predator is at the time has a lot to do with it.

    Oh yeah HM, if you’re looking for a coyote trail-cam image, just find a deer carcass and set-up on that. If you discover a fresh one you may be in luck, although after a day or so as Rob and others have noted, the coyotes tend to move-on and you might be out of luck.

    Outdoorsguy

  24. jeff.morrison says:

    I also have some images from one of my cams last fall, of a fox and raccoon nibbling at some deer feed.

    They were standing side-by-side and could care less really about the other one being there.

    Outdoorsguy

  25. matt says:

    i have some pics of a fairly large fisher at the same bait site , but nothing seems to be brave enough to stare him down….

  26. Johan says:

    Buddy lives on a bush lot only minutes from the city and noticed a “couple” of coons that seemed to follow the turkeys that frequently visited his yard last spring, Every time he saw the turkeys he saw coons nearby and he realized later, when he didn’t see any turkey chicks with any of the hens, that the coons were following the hens to the nest and eating the eggs. Since last July he has shot exactly 20 coons in his yard from his bedroom window, with the last 5 eating out of his feeders. How many coons are there when you see that many in one person’s yard? I am all for nature and survival of the fittest, but when there is an over abundance of coons who don’t have any natural enemies but man, everything else doesn’t stand a chance.
    Yes, a bit off topic, but folks who come to these blogs and whine are the ones who think they are doing something good by live trapping ‘cute racoons’ and releasing them in my backyard. I have lost enough poultry to these opportunists and I now freely administer rabies shots to any that take up residence.

  27. Iggy says:

    and there is an over abundance of coons in the city, I found that out last spring, they got in our attick, and it took a lot of hard work and money to get them out, the guy that ended up putting in a one way door for them to get out and not back in told me quite ofter there can be 15 to 20 coons using an attick, but people don’t see them often because they are nocturnal so they don’t realize it.

    BTW, the proper name for a city slicker, well I shouldn’t say proper, I should say the politically correct reference is
    TOWNIE

  28. dan hunton says:

    johan i have lost laying hens, meat birds, ducks to raccoons mostly in winter when they hide out in my hayloft. Between them and coyotes i’ve given up on the birds for a couple of years.

    Iggy, coons in the attic. two dishes of antifreeze will take care of them as long as you can find them after. cant put that stuff out were other animals will get at it though!

  29. jeff.morrison says:

    A buddy of mine ran into a coyote last weekend coming back from Arnprior.(From ref’ing a hockey game) Apparently there’s $3000 damage to the car and lifetime of damage to the yote..

    Outdoorsguy

  30. jeff.morrison says:

    dan hunton, it’s pretty sad when raccoons put a wrench in your livlihood! Glad you’ve found a way to ‘deal with them’.

    Outdoorsguy

  31. jeff.morrison says:

    Johan, that’s incredible but not surprising. I have pics with as many as 8 raccoons eating at my deer feeder at the same time!!

    The really amazing part, to me, is how these animals have evolved over the years. I can remember 20 years ago and you would never see a coon out in Jan or Feb.

    Even during our cold weather this winter, they were still around my place. Sure, they’d disappear during a snowstorm but usually back the next day or the one after.

    What’s up with that? Rick do you have any theory as to why this is happening?

    Outdoorsguy

  32. Johan says:

    Jeff, did your buddy salvage enough of the pelt for a hat at least?

  33. Iggy says:

    dan thanks for the idea, I could tell you stories, but I could also get in trouble telling you them, so some day when there is no record, I’ll tell you some coon stories

  34. jeff.morrison says:

    Oh man Iggs, I remember you struggling with coons in your attic. Did they manage to get-in through a broken soffit or something?

    They must have made a lot of noise up there moving around? Maybe not as bad in a two-story but in my bungalow it would probably sound like a family of moose in the ceiling!

    Outdoorsguy

  35. jeff.morrison says:

    Johan, unfortunately he just left the carcass by the side of the road.

    Outdoorsguy

  36. Hunting mom says:

    My raccoon story is a little different. My late father, an avid hunter and outdoorsman,found a baby raccoon while Hunting. It was full of porcupine quills. Dad pulled out the quills and brought it home for me and my sister. We fed it with our doll bottle and became quite attached to it. We couldn’t keep it because we lived in the city. We found it a home on a farm and visited it periodically. He lived a pretty good life on that farm. Of course that would be illegal now. We would probably go to jail if we did that today.

    Hunting mom

  37. Carol K says:

    Actually, hunting mom, you can obtain a license to foster wildlife, and release them.
    I’ve fostered many raccoons , and other animals, and successfully returned them to the wild. They’re a lot of fun, and have taught me tons of interesting facts about their species, most specifically , how intelligent they are.
    My three dogs existed happily with my last raccoon, and they adapted to each other amazingly well. Yet, he avoided and respected my friend’s dog.
    Im sure that you have many interesting memories of your raccoon.

    I suspect that the coyote has had many encounters with raccoons. Coyotes are also very intelligent, as you all know, and I think that he was curious, but also smart enough to avoid a vicious battle. It wouldn’t be worth the wounds he would be sure to receive. The raccoon’s body language seemed to show that he wasn’t afraid of the coyote as well, so they went their separate ways.
    Fascinating pictures Jeff.

    My Dad used to tap trees. In the old days, he always said that he would tap in the second week of March. It just shows how our climate is changing….

    Lots of bunnies at my feeder at dusk. I’ve had 6 at one time. I haven’t seen any fox this winter, or tracks. Lots of coyotes around though.

  38. Carol K says:

    Hey Jeff,
    Where would I get a trail camera and what is their price range?
    ( do I have to go to a hunting goods outlet?! ). :)

  39. Trapper says:

    Great topic Jeff and Great pics.

    We put all kinds of carcasses on 3 different bait piles. The last ones to be eaten by the critters are raccoon then otter.

    As for the stand off between coyote and coon I’m not surprised as has been said many times here already coons are very fiesty, strong creatures not to mention very efficient with their claws.

  40. jeff.morrison says:

    Carol, I work with Bushnell and get the opportunity to test-out and use their new trail cams when they come out. The Bushnell Trophy Cam is just great and there are many diff models to choose from. Not to say that they’re the only manufacturer that makes good a product. Spy-point I hear is good quality and some others as well.

    I actually picked my father up a Bushnell Trophy cam last year at Crappy Tire on sale for $199. I doubt you’ll find them for that price now, and try to find the model with ‘Color display’, those ones you can review the pics on the cam display viewer. Le Baron on Merivale would also have a good selection of products.

    Bushnell has 3 new models coming out this year..cant wait to see them!

    Outdoorsguy

  41. jeff.morrison says:

    Hey Trapper, wondered if you were still at camp. Catch many coons in your fisher sets this year? Have you seen more around throughout the winter? I know I have and its kind of weird..especially in the colder temps. I guess as many have noted they are a tough critter and perhaps have learned to adapt to our winter weather.

    Outdoorsguy

  42. Carol K says:

    Thanks Jeff. I think I might have found a new hobby here! It’s like we’re spying on them. I bet you get a lot of interesting footage. Looking forward to it.

  43. Iggy says:

    we have a side split, so one roof comes close to the other, they ripped out the soffit right there and had a perfect entrance, it’s all wired up now though

  44. Trapper says:

    Lots of coons Jeff. We target them up until the end of the season then we take nuisance ones until the fur quality drops. You can guarantee that every spring like night or day the coons will climb out of the den and come to the traps.

  45. Hunting mom says:

    Carol
    We bought an inexpensive model made by Tasco. I would not recommend it It is not reliable. We are ready to invest in the Bushnel.

    Hunting Mom

  46. brian says:

    Jeff, I feel the same way about you, as you do the raccoons, you know the population thing, and useless eaters.

  47. judd says:

    Yote is larger, fiercer, has bigger teeth. In times of starvation, the coon would be on the defensive.

  48. Jamie says:

    Out of all the posts here there is only one person who knows what they are talking about, thats dave the rest of you sorry to say have NO IDea what is going on in this pictures. Nor do you understand how predators work.

  49. Jamie says:

    In reality when eastern coyotes take over an area the coons do not last long, their numbers drop just like foxes, the coyotes dominate all meso predators. Sure one on one with an inexperienced eastern coyote a coon might fend it off. Put a pair in their with experience the tables turn.

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