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May 11, 2012

Reuniting Six Coyote Pups with their Mother

When some spring yard work turned up six infant coyotes, our Calif. animal care center reunites them with momma

The Humane Society of the United States / The Fund for Animals

  • Six coyotes, only 10 or 11 days old, were discovered under a debris pile. Kim D'Amico/The HSUS

  • The little coyotes were successfully reunited with their mother. Kim D'Amico/The HSUS

by Ali Crumpacker

A local Fallbrook, Calif. resident taking advantage of a warm spring morning to do some yard work had a surprise—six infant coyotes—at the bottom of her wood pile. A wild mother coyote had chosen the backyard pile as a perfect den site. As the homeowner deconstructed the wood pile to mow the lawn, one of the babies announced himself.

The homeowner uncovered one, two, three and finally all six coyote pups. With their den now destroyed and their momma nowhere in sight, the homeowners didn’t know what to do. They called our Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, Calif., which specializes in the care and rehabilitation of predatory native wildlife, such as coyotes.

The pups were carefully moved to a soft towel in a box and made the long journey to our facility, where veteran wildlife rehabilitator, Kim D’Amico, was able to give them a quick check and confirm that they were healthy. With eyes still squinting from the bright sunlight, she estimated the pups were just 10-11 days old.

True orphans?

D’Amico spent time with the homeowner to discuss ways to create a makeshift den and allow the mother coyote a chance to reclaim her babies.

“I told her to wait 24 hours and stay out of the area during that time.” D’Amico says, “If mom did not return overnight, we would make arrangements to get the puppies.”

No matter how good a rehabber is, a coyote mother is always the best option to raise her own young.

Whenever baby animals are found, the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center always hopes we can help reunite them with their parents. If the mother is healthy and able to get to her babies, she will come back to claim them. Coyotes often establish multiple den sites in case one becomes disturbed; she’ll wait till the cover of night to move her babies, one by one in her mouth, to the new den location.

But if the babies are brought to a rehabber and labeled as “orphans”, then their mom never has the opportunity to move them and finish raising them herself. If their mom doesn’t return within 24 hours, then a rehabber can step in and raise the babies for future release. No matter how good a rehabber is, a coyote mother is always the best option to raise her own young.

Watch, and wait...

These 6 puppies made the long trip back to Fallbrook. A makeshift den was set up for them and the area was left undisturbed. D’Amico tried calling first thing on Wednesday morning to check on the pups. Did the coyote mother come back? Did she move all the pups or just some of them? Did another animal find them first and cause them harm?

On pins and needles, the questions went unanswered for several hours until the homeowner returned her call. The momma coyote had reclaimed all six pups and moved her family to a new den. 

At the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center, we celebrated. We could and would have done our best to raise the six coyotes, but we're glad to have helped return them to their rightful caregiver. Baby season is in full swing now. We won't be able to reunite all of the wild babies that come in with their mothers. But for those animals that are true orphans, the rehabbers at the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center are ready.

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