Saturday, February 28, 2009

19 February 2009

My phone rings at 8:30, my first thought is that we've trapped a coyote. I hop out of bed to see that it is just my mom calling. It's a cold, windy, snowy morning. One of those days that is good for sleeping in. And because my day job is in the afternoon and evening I tend to stay up later than most, but sleep later than most, too.

Ben returns from taking my step-son to school, and we join each other for breakfast. Coffee and toast--nothing complicated. By 10 am I find myself lounging in my pajamas a little too late. Ben answers a call to my cell phone, and it's Carrie.

I fly upstairs to find...what do I need? What am I looking for? Well, I need clothes for starters. Do I need warm clothes? Is it really cold out? Does it matter--should I just put on whatever? Or just go out the door in my pajamas? Wool pants, where are my wool pants? Fleece top, long underwear--yes that's a good idea--winter coat...Okay, the camera...where's the camera? Thankfully, where it belongs of course, on the dining room table!

Ben runs out to clean off my car, turn it around in the driveway, and pack all the camera gear in
 the back.

Where are my wool pants? Ben is still loading the car. Finally! Right where they belong...

I decide to change to a fresh battery and load and stripe a new tape in the camera. As I close the tape cover on the camera and look into the viewfinder--I see a symbol of a tape with a line through it. Ah, Coyote, you're getting the best of me! I unthread the tape, pull it out to find a long black streamer coming out of the camera. Great. Well, at least I'm not trying to do this in the field. I scrap the tape, pull out the head cleaner, then load a new tape and cross my fingers. Seems okay. Color bars recorded, I'm out the door.

Why is it that when you're in a hurry the car in front of you goes 10 mph below the speed limit?

I arrive at the park to find Carrie had just arrived herself. Dave had checked traps this morning, and had made the initial call. We wait only a few minutes for DCNR employees to arrive. Ben has to be at work -- so I enlist my friend Kathleen to hold the boom pole. Okay, now, Ray can you take still pictures? Great.

Kathleen and I head in first to set up the camera for the approaching shot. Our coyote is quite frightened at being so close to people. We set up the tripod at a decent distance so the animal doesn't panic to the point of pulling out of the trap and ruining the entire process. I go through the essentials in my head: level the tripod, check focus and exposure, composition...

We wave the team in, and Brian and Carrie approach the worrisome animal. He pulls at his foot which is held in the trap. Mostly, he cowers in fright. No growling, no gnashing of teeth, no aggression at all. Brian slowly and easily slips the noose over his face and around to his neck, tightens up on the line just as Carrie covers his face.

We work quietly and quickly. It's a boy! The teeth reveal no indication of the animal being less than a year he must be at least 21 months...and because we're well into mating season and even perhaps after...he should be a resident animal. But 20 pounds? We weigh a second time...20 pounds. He certainly looks much bigger than that. I would have guessed at least 40.

Carrie carefully fits the collar, and two others check the tightness. Too tight and the animal can be harmed, but too loose and the collar could come off at any time, and our efforts ruined. The magnet is removed from the battery, and the quiet beep, beep, beep from the receiver can be heard. That's our lifeline into this animals behavior. One, two, three...and he's gone into the brush just moments after we release him. Gone. But now we can know where he spends his time, when he goes and what habitats he seems to prefer.

1 comment:

  1. Great narrative, Tracy! Very phrenetic, I could feel your sense of urgency. Looking forward to reading more posts as this adventure unfolds.