We recently did a column on the influx of red foxes residing in populated areas, particularly in the city of Allentown. Well, they’re not alone. It seems coyotes too are finding their way into suburban areas including the city of Allentown.
A lady in the west end of Allentown, who lives in the area of 28th & Highland Streets, posted a security camera shot on West Watch of a coyote in her yard at night. Others have been seen in the Allentown Lehigh Parkway wooded tracts and I know of an outdoorsman who used to trap them behind Cedarbrook Nursing Home.
They’ve also been reported in the Stiles area where they’re probably living in the wooded tracts around LaFarge’s quarry operation located off South Church Street. In fact, several months ago, one was struck by a vehicle on Church in Whitehall.
Of course, you’d expect to find coyotes in the wooded tracts of northern Lehigh and Northampton counties, particularly around Leaser and Minsi lakes and the Blue Mountain.
A friend who lives on the outskirts of Northampton said he often hears them howl at night, but has never seen them. Same goes for friends who lived across from Woodstone Golf Course in Danielsville.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, coyotes entered northern Pennsylvania in the 60s from the Catskill Mountains in New York. From there they spread south and west across the state. Now, coyotes are found in all 67 Pennsylvania counties with the highest concentrations in the Pocono Mountains.
Adult male coyotes weigh 45-55 pounds whereas females are smaller averaging from 35-40 pounds. The heaviest known male caught was 62 pounds while the heaviest female weighed 42 pounds.
According to Coyote Hunting in PA’s Facebook page, hunters have been taking them in the 30-pound class and mostly at night when “yotes,” as they call them, are most active. Some will be seen during daylight hours but that’s mainly in spring when the females seek food for their young pups.
February is the prime mating month when females come into heat for a period of 4-5 days.
As for hunting them, their pelts have been fetching an average of $10.65 according to a February posting by Pennsylvania Trappers Association. And yes, some folks eat them. I tasted a piece of cooked coyote and it had a metallic taste. Not exactly haute cuisine.
A good many hunters detest coyotes because of their propensity to kill fawns, stocked pheasants and rabbits. But their main food habits are in the form of small mice, voles, road-killed deer, woodchucks, birds and plant material mainly in winter. In farm areas, coyotes will go after sheep, chickens, ducks, goats and geese. And in the populated suburbs, pet dogs and cats especially feral cats.
Coyotes den-up under overturned trees, tree stump piles, rock dens and dug out fox dens that face a southerly exposure. Pups are born in the dens from mid-April to early May with litter sizes ranging from 5-7 pups. The young will stay with their mother until October when they’ll disperse from 30-50 miles away with some traveling 100 miles away from their dens.
As said, many folks may never see a coyote but may hear their barks, yips and howls as they communicate with others or to periodically join larger packs. Other times, they’ll prefer to hunt alone or with another coyote or two.
A coyotes’ sense of smell, hearing and alertness are particularly keen and that’s what makes them tough to hunt. With snow on the ground, hunters may have to wear snow camo to blend in. Calling, be it electronically or mouth calls, is the prominent way to lure “yotes” into shooting range. And then it’s a quick shot. With the PGC now allowing night vision optics for predator hunting, hunters can trim the odds a bit.
With appreciable snow covering Penn’s Woods, it limits what can be done outdoors.
If you’re a cross-country skier, the snow makes a good platform to traverse places like the Rose Garden land in Allentown, Allentown Municipal Golf Course, Trexler Park, Upper Macungie Park areas, Macungie Park, Camp Olympic land in Emmaus, and other flat, accessible terrain.
If you’d rather stay home, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) offers an alternative to being outdoors. They are hosting constant live-streaming of wildlife in the comforts of your home.
For example, there’s the Eagle Cam located in a giant sycamore tree overlooking scenic farmland in Hanover, Pa. According to the PGC, the nest has one eaglet so far and is one of the agencies most popular viewing site.
Bald eagles typically lay eggs in mid-February and if viable, will hatch in mid-late March with the young fledging in June.
There’s also a Snow Goose Cam set up at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon County. Here, viewers can watch the thousands of snows that congregate there during their winter migration through Pennsylvania.
Perhaps the most dramatic though is the Black Bear Cam set up under a cabin deck in Monroe County. This location isn’t unusual says the PGC as it has happened before. Sometimes they even den in the open with only a few twigs overhead, the hollow of a tree, rock crevice, beneath the roots of a fallen tree, and if they can find one, a cavity of a large rock.
Several years ago, I accompanied then PGC bear biologist Gary Alt to such a den in Pike County. The bear was radio collared so Alt knew where the female bear was located deep in the woods.
After darting and putting the female to sleep, he and a game warden pulled the female out. Alt then allowed me to crawl inside the rock den (it was tight) to photograph two new bear cubs after which he pulled them out to weigh and measure them for his research. It was an unforgettable experience.
In this deck den, the camera uses night vision as light levels are low and the camera can pan, tilt and zoom. Residents in the cabin don’t seem to bother the bear and the bears are generally not a threat to them, says the PGC. This den appears to have two cubs as they’re normally born in January with their eyes opening in about six weeks.
Since there is limited room under this particularly deck, the bear sow must lay on her side to nurse the cubs. Their milk, that Alt had analyzed, has an extreme fat and protein content more so than any other animal. This allows the cubs to grow quickly.
The sow will also adjust with the cubs and when not nursing she may lapse into a deep sleep. Body temperatures drop 10-12 degrees during hibernation and she won’t eat or drink anything, or urinate or defecate during this dormancy.
Her cubs will begin walking in about eight weeks and will leave the den when they’re three months old.
PRE-SEASON TROUT STOCKING
The Pennsylvania Fish Commission is scheduled to start stocking trout on Thursday, Feb. 18, weather permitting. But deep snow along stream banks is going to make stocking especially difficult.
Pennsylvania’s final bear harvest figures are in and the results show it was the sixth best bear season since the state-maintained harvest records.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), hunters took 3,608 bears during the recent bear seasons. That reflects a 20 percent decrease over last year’s record harvest of 4,653.
The 2020 season breaks down as follows. During the archery bear season, that benefited from a one-week longer season, bowhunters set a new harvest record of 948 that broke the former record of 561 set in 2019.
As for the two-year old muzzleloader/special firearms season, that harvest slipped from 1,340 to 1,038, while the general firearms season harvest went from 1,629 to 1,170. The extended season, which the PGC points out is typically inconsistent, went from 1,117 to 432.
This recent harvest decline, often influenced by fall food availability, weather and hunter turnout, marks the second time in 20 years the bear harvest in back-back years has decreased by 1,000 or more bears, says the PGC.
More specifically, bears were taken in 59 of 67 counties and 22 of Pennsylvania’s 23 Wildlife Management Units in the 2020 season. Within that, the largest bear was a 719-pound male taken with a crossbow on Nov. 7 in Ayr Township, Fulton County by Abby Strayer of McConnelsburg. In comparison, the heaviest bear ever taken in Pennsylvania was an 875-pounder in 2010 in Middle Smithfield Township, Pike County. Since 1992, seven bears weighing at least 800 pounds have been harvested in Pennsylvania.
Other large bears taken in the 2020 bear seasons include: a 657-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Lehman Township, Pike County, by Zachary Seip, of Schnecksville; a 656-pound male taken with a shotgun in Penn Forest Township, Carbon County, by Stephen Strzelecki, of Albrightville; a 633-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Cooper Township, Clearfield County, by Mark Gritzer, of Clearfield; a 633-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Stewardson Township, Potter County, by Conrad Miller, of Hanover; a 621-pound male taken with a rifle in Shrewsberry Township, Sullivan County, by Jeffrey C. Kratz, of Collegeville; a 610-pound male taken in Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County, by Keith Davis, of Harrisburg; a 607-pound male taken with a rifle in Lake Township, Wayne County, by Seth A. Curtis, of Waymart; a 607-pound male taken with a rifle in Abbott Township, Potter County, by Robin Levengood, of Fleetwood; and a 607-pound male taken in Lehigh Township, Wayne County, by Joseph Sledzinski, of Lake Ariel.
Potter County finished with 188 bears to take the top county bear harvest. It was followed by Lycoming County, with 185. Other top counties for bear harvests in 2020 were: Tioga, 184; Clearfield, 157; Monroe, 152; Clinton, 149; Elk, 140; Luzerne, 125; and Carbon, 117.
Final local county harvests by region (with 2019 figures in parentheses) are: Northeast – 987 (1,228): Monroe, 152 (130); Luzerne, 125 (163); Pike, 105 (161); Wayne, 99 (131); Carbon, 97 (88); Bradford, 82 (128); Sullivan, 71 (87); Lackawanna, 56 (79); Susquehanna, 54 (82); Columbia, 53 (64); Wyoming, 42 (82); Northumberland, 22 (26); and Montour, 3 (7). Southeast – 170 (185): Schuylkill, 78 (79); Dauphin, 37 (67); Berks, 15 (17); Northampton, 23 (16); Lehigh, 7 (4); and Lebanon, 9 (2).
The final bear harvests by local Wildlife Management Units (with final 2019 figures in parentheses) were: WMU 3D, 408 (493); WMU 4A, 175 (308); WMU 4B, 112 (192); WMU 4C, 228 (254); WMU 4D, 234 (370); WMU 4E, 135 (139); WMU 5A, 13 (25); WMU 5B, 0 (1); WMU 5C, 22 (14); and WMU 5D, 1 (0).
STREAMLIGHT DEBUTS A DANDY SPORTSMEN’S FLASHLIGHT
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Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.