When I see a raccoon lumber across my yard, or see our now locally famous Wally Coyote trot across Interlaken, my first instinct is to think about these animals as wild newcomers. But then I recall the pictures of Seattle area from the archives, late 1800’s or early 1900’s, when there was still wooded areas where our urbanity now sprawls out, and I remember that these furry neighbors are, most likely, descended from a continuous line of critters from hereabouts that stretch back centuries, at least.
There continue to be regular coyote sightings in western Wallingford (I caught my first look at Wally just last week and James Park caught a great short video snippet that he posted to Facebook right around the same time), but the big buzz this past month was that the Wally has found some friends. Kate B. posted:
Straight up pack of coyotes by now fyi. […] 4 of them, 3 packed tight traveling and scavenging and one across the street from there. Close to meridian park! They’re beauuuuuutiful and it’s strange to see a pack of them mobbing a city sidewalk. They were not aggressive at all. They ran as soon as they saw me. Def not just Wally anymore…
Vivian followed up with a post from the Port Angeles Pet Posse that indicated that January through mid-March is coyote mating season, which might explain the change in behavior:
COYOTE ALERT: The next 4-6 weeks [starting mid-Janary] is mating season for coyotes. Please do not let your dogs or cats out alone. The coyote gets your dog to chase him and then somewhere in the distance the pack waits for your dog. Then the outcome is tragic as they can & will attack/kill your pets. Just be aware it can happen to your beloved pet. Coyote breeding typically peaks in late February and early March and the gestation period averages 58 to 63 days. Male coyotes can become more aggressive during this time of year. The long and short of it all is that coyotes always pose a risk to your dog (and other small pets). That risk increases during mating season.
On a less threatening note, we came out of our house the other day to find someone had peeled all the sedum from the edge of our planter box. Michelle puzzled out that it must have been a raccoon looking for grubs and insects, which it is welcome to.
Not all the raccoon news is good, though. Nikki posted some worrisome news:
I’ve had a raccoon coming and going on my property for a while. He’s been under my deck all day, acting very strange—making weird noises, growling, and has a foamy face. He’s not moving. Course I’m worried he’s rabid and I feel awful because he seems very sick.
She called Animal Control and at last check was waiting for their response. It sounds an awful lot like rabies to me, and should definitely be treated as such until more is known, but Lise posted a link to this KING5 article, Raccoon attack prompts rabies scare, but the disease is rare in Washington, that says that, for reasons that aren’t really clear, our state’s land mammals just don’t seem to get rabies much.
Still, rabies is 100% lethal in unvaccinated humans after symptoms begin to development, so take no chances.
In more cheerful news, I spotted the wild rabbit that has been hopping across my yard and over to the John Stanford School again recently. For a while, I’d see it every week or so, but I got worried when it stopped making its regular appearance a couple months ago. But coming down Latona past 44th this past week, there it was hopping in front of me. I guess if rabbits are able to survive the winter in the wilderness, Wallingford’s dormant vegetable gardens likely provide ample feed for our local Fiver and Hazel.
What I have not seen in close to a decade is a possum. There used to be one that ambled across my yard as often as the raccoons. Keep your eyes peeled.
That’s it for the Wallingford Wildlife Report. I’ll leave you with this photo Michelle took of me in our backyard hot tub back in October, enjoying a visit from our local trash pandas. I liked seeing them, but when they started making moves to join me in the tub, I got a little skittish.