[Bristol-Birds] On the trail of the Black Coyotes in Southwest Virginia

  • From: "Wallace Coffey" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bristol-birds" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2012 23:11:53 -0500

On the trail 
of the Black Coyote

If you are thinking of the famous signature 
Black Coyote Cabernet Sauvignon of
from the wine Mecca of California's
Napa Valley grape growing region, you are
howling up the wrong arbor.

If you believe in a Black Coyote's mournful,
sinister and eerie howl, feel the tingle along
your spine.  To hear them sing in harmony is one of nature's
beautiful choruses.

My mind has been on the trail of the Black Coyote for more than
a year.  It started with a field camera photo capture of a strange
creature on Rich Mountain along the slopes above Corn Valley
in Russell County.  An amazing find !  It was captured by our
own Tom Hunter.

The trail grew warm on a beautiful February day, Thursday, as
the search for Bald Eagles went on and on up St. Clair Bottoms
thru Smyth County, VA.

All along the way, asking anyone and everyone outdoors every
question I could imagine.  

Eventually it was coyotes.  Eventually "black" coyotes.  It is 
always a long shot but, nevertheless, you don't find if you
don't seek.  And then, the moment.  The break you wait for in
such a search.  

It started raining Black Coyotes.  They were everywhere.




















Coyotes are about the size and weight of a medium sized
dog. They generally have longer and thicker hair or fur than a dog.
Their long black tipped tail is usually bushy and is pointed downward
rather than outward or upward. The fur of the coyote in Virginia can
vary from blond, light reddish-brown or tan, grayish black, or black
with a small white blaze in the center of the chest. The coyote ears are
pointed and erect, and the snout is relatively long and slender. 




















This photo is a darker Coyote with much black when most of our
animals in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia are more
fawn color like a deer.  It was taken in Smyth County, VA.

This Smyth County
Coyote has bands
of black throughout
the otherwise brown
fur.  It is just another
example of the 
considerable 
variation of the big
predators in the
county.

Nothing makes you
think more about
coyote colors than
to stand and study
these combinations
of animals held in
private ownership
by various hunters
who have taken 
them from the
wild in the area
about Chilhowie.





















This is a Black Coyote taken in 2010 by a Smyth County hunter.
Some of these animals have been shot and some taken in traps
set by fur trappers.

But the bottom-line becomes the obvious.  There are many more
Black Coyotes in the area then most of us would have thought.

I was very fortunate to be taken into the confidence of coyote
hunters, coyote trappers and those who frequently see lots of
coyotes.  Not something most of us get a chance to do.  One 
said that even though they knew where and how to find Coyotes,
they seldom see more than two animals at once.

But, the shocker of it all, they believe about 5 to 10 percent of
the Coyotes in Smyth County are black !  Yes black.

The coyote in the eastern United States is typically larger than 
coyotes in the western United States. Female coyotes weigh on 
average 30 - 40 pounds, and male coyotes weigh on average 
35 - 45 pounds. Coyotes can weigh as much as 60 pounds.



















This is the normal color of a Coyote as shown in a mount in the
collection at Steele Creek Park Nature Center.  It is from Sullivan
County where it was hit an killed on I-81 near Blountville.

And this is the Black
Coyote photographed
on Rich Mountain 
in Russell County, VA
by Tom Hunter in
February 2011.  The
key feature of all
Black Coyotes is the
white spot on the 
chest.  This is a 
simply great and
valuable documentation.

Let's go coyoting . . . .

Wallace Coffey
Bristol, TN

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