Adventures of a Young Coyote Pup
Project Coyote’s Colorado and New Mexico Representative Judy Paulsen has been educating people in both states about intelligent coexistence with coyotes and creating compassionate, Coyote Friendly Communities for more than three years. In this role, she holds public presentations, speaks at wildlife-related events, and works closely with local animal control agencies to address people’s concerns and questions.
Judy also actively works on advocacy campaigns in both Colorado and New Mexico representing Project Coyote on several wildlife coalitions; in New Mexico she is working to pass legislation to ban wildlife killing contests and trapping on public lands with allies who are part of the Trap Free New Mexico Coalition.
In her work with local communities and animal control agencies, her messages cover many practical aspects of handling encounters with the species, including what to do when faced with a seemingly abandoned young animal in the wild. Her experience with wildlife goes back to her childhood in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness, where she began to realize that most predator species want nothing to do with humans, who would be wise to leave the animals alone so they can continue to carry out the essential roles they play in benefiting our shared ecosystems.
Recently Judy learned about a story that highlights how communities can work together to help wildlife. It begins in a way that is all too common, with a pup who is found and believed to be orphaned or in need of help. While rescue organizations emphasize that removing any wild animal from the wild is rarely a good idea and a last resort, when it does occur, as you’ll read in this story, it can be inspiring to see a chain of compassionate hands working together for a positive outcome.
Judy Paulsen’s Tale of a Young Coyote Pup
This past July, I received a call from a man named Philip Jones who said he had been referred to me by Wildlife Rescue, Inc. of New Mexico. He had in his possession a young coyote pup, brought to him by his son, who found her while camping in Colorado. Assuming the pup was abandoned, his son took her back to his tent to give her some food because she appeared very thin and was weak on her back legs. After spending several days with her, the son headed to his father’s house in Los Lunas, New Mexico, and handed the pup over for safekeeping.
For a few weeks, the pup stayed at Philip’s New Mexico home and began learning to hunt for mice and lizards in a woodpile on his property. As he fed her milk and dog food, the imprinting began. She soon befriended Philip’s dog and also became a companion to Philip, sleeping in a large wooden box made especially for her.
In order that the pup did not become too acclimated to humans, and had the best chance at being released, Philip decided it was in her best interest to go to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility. Upon contacting Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico, he was informed that wildlife rehabilitators in the state could no longer take in coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks, or any other possible vectors of rabies (due to a ban put into place by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish in 2013). He was then referred to me as the Colorado and New Mexico Representative for Project Coyote, to see if I had any recommendations.
We have worked before with Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation in Kendalia, Texas, so I contacted the founder, Lynn Cuny, to see if they had space for a coyote pup. To my surprise she said, “Yes!” The only problem we then faced was getting the pup to Kendalia. Lynn said their staff and volunteers were too busy to offer any transportation assistance. I began calling around to various transporters I have worked with over the years to see if we could get the pup a ride to Texas, with no luck. Then, I thought of Leyton Cougar, head of Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in Ramah, New Mexico. I contacted him, and without hesitation, he volunteered to drive to Los Lunas to pick her up from Philip and take her all the way to the rehabilitation center in Texas.
Philip Jones (left) and Leyton Cougar
On July 18, Leyton showed up in Los Lunas. He was accompanied by a film crew, which was developing a TV show chronicling his work with wild canids at Wild Spirit, and they recorded the exchange. Not surprisingly, Philip had grown attached to the pup and was sad to see her go. He lovingly lifted her into the crate for her trip to Lynn Cuny’s rehabilitation center.
Soon after, the pup was delivered to the clinic at the Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Center in Kendalia. She was treated for a minor case of mange and has been eating well and putting on weight. She will soon be introduced to a male coyote pup at the center and eventually released on a 30,000-acre parcel of private land, so the young couple can start their new life together and establish their own territory. Lynn has made agreements with several landowners who allow her to release rehabilitated wildlife on their private ranches, which are comprised of tens of thousands of acres.
A huge debt of gratitude goes out to Philip Jones for contacting me to ask for help, and to Leyton Cougar of Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary for transporting the pup to the rehabilitation center. This is one very lucky coyote pup!