Wild Times: They will survive

I awakened at the usual time on a Saturday morning. I could hear the wind howling. When I went to bed, the snow was falling and the temperature was falling rapidly. It was one of those mornings that you just did not want to step outside. The temperature with the wind chill factor was a long way below zero.

I made my way down to the back door and donned the clothing necessary to survive the time allotted for feeding cattle. The tractor fired up and I headed down the road to feed. I headed down by the edge of the timber to feed so the cattle would be out of the blast from the north.

As I was unrolling a bale of feed, I glanced up across the creek and saw a coyote trotting off to the northeast. It was only 50 yards away, and I could tell that it had a nice coat. With the newly fallen snow as a backdrop, the coyote looked gorgeous.

A couple of days previously, I had stepped into the kitchen and right outside the east windows of the house a coyote was trotting east. This coyote looked totally different. He was only a short distance from the house and I was able to observe him easily. This wild dog looked terrible! It was obvious that this coyote was suffering from sarcoptic mange. It had been a long time since I had observed a coyote with the “mange.”

Several years back, it seemed that every coyote I would see would be suffering from this disease. The coyote is one of those species that seems to be able to survive any attack on their well being, whether that be natural predators or human predation. Seemingly, the only event on this planet that will give the coyote a reason to fear would be sarcoptic mange. If you see a coyote out in the wild and it looks rather skinny and unhealthy, it is a very good chance that the dog is suffering from sarcoptic mange.

What is sarcoptic mange? Sarcoptic mange is a highly contagious disease caused by a burrowing mite. It is also known as canine scabies. As I stated previously, it is highly contagious. These burrowing mites dig into and actually through the skin and cause intense itching.

Animals that suffer from this infestation scratch and rub so much that they literally rub all the hair off of themselves. Once you spot a coyote with the mange, you will never forget it. It will be very obvious to you what the coyote has. I have seen coyotes over the years that even had the hair on their tails rubbed off.

It is so bad that the skin becomes rubbed to the point that it bleeds and forms a crust. This damage to the skin compromises the animal’s ability to suppress any form of disease or hardship to which the coyote would be exposed. Usually, once the coyote comes down with the mange, it will lead to its death.

But, if there was ever a species that could not be wiped out, it would have to be the coyote. The wily coyote simply cannot be exterminated. The sarcoptic mange might be the most deadly threat that the coyote might face.

No matter what kind of hunting pressure is put upon the coyote or how many you see with the mange, this “dog” never seems to lose ground. There is probably not an animal in our state that has undergone more pressure to survive than the coyote. From hunting to habitat loss to disease, the coyote has displayed the ability to adapt and survive.

For me, the coyote is a symbol of everything wild and stately in our state. It’s determination and perseverance for survival is rivaled by no other creature.

Tim Kellenberger115 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.

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