For some, a family of coyotes moving in under the house would be cause for a call to animal control. For one California homeowner, however, sharing their home with a mama coyote and her pups provided the footage of a lifetime.
While coyotes are capable of digging their own dens, they’re often wilier than that (is Wile E. Coyote still unsuccessfully hunting the Road Runner? If I just aged myself spectacularly, don’t tell me).
In many cases, coyotes will enlarge dens created by smaller animals, such as badgers and raccoons, rather than creating them from scratch. And though they will sometimes venture into suburban areas, they typically stick to wooded areas to stay hidden from humans.
Because of this, it’s not often a human gets an up-close encounter with a family of coyotes. So when one mama coyote set up her den under a California home, the homeowner took the rare opportunity to install a camera and discreetly film the pups’ first days of life.
“Over the last week mom has been introducing fresh meat, voles she’s hunted, to the pups,” videographer Toogee Sielsch wrote in an Instagram post highlighting the family’s behavior. “Since then, one by one the pups’ behavior is shifting from fun aggression to more serious seeming aggression.”
“This video is HIGHLY dynamic, with mom grabbing a pup, another pup grabbing on the pup in mom’s mouth. THEN mom is alerted to something in the next yard and hops the 5′ fence both ways like it’s nothing. In the meantime, a couple other pups watch in amazement.”
California homeowner initially wanted coyote family evicted
Toogee Sielsch, the videographer behind the captivating footage, is not the homeowner. He’s the wildlife enthusiast the California homeowner turned to for help when the coyote family first moved in.
At first, the homeowner wasn’t sure about sharing their house with coyotes. They contacted Sielsch to ask for help removing them, not setting up cameras to watch them. Sielsch, however, advised against this action, informing the homeowner that territorial animals such as coyotes rarely survive relocation.
“I explained to them the situation, and I explained that trying to get that family to move to another site would probably be fatal for a number of those pups,” Sielsch told CBS13.
Not intending to cause harm to the newborn coyotes, the homeowner agreed to allow the family to stay. They then worked with Sielsch to set up a camera that would allow observation of the pups from afar.
“I was trying to have as little impact on their world as possible. My camera was very small,” Sielsch said. “This has been one of the most amazing learning experiences I’ve ever had with any wildlife species.”
Coyote parents regularly move their dens to protect pups
For two weeks, Sielsch gleefully recorded the California coyote’s birthing den, sharing much of his footage with the world. Then, just as he predicted, the mama coyote moved her pups to a new home.
As the wildlife enthusiast knew, coyotes don’t make their dens with the intention of living there long-term. Instead, they use dens exclusively during pup season. When the nursery is no longer needed, coyotes sleep out in the open.
Additionally, coyotes regularly move their pups rather than remaining in the same den throughout the babies’ entire “childhood.” This serves the dual purpose of protecting the pups from potential predators and preventing flea buildup.
When the coyote family left the California home, Sielsch assisted the homeowner in blocking the entrance to their former den, just in case they tried to return in the future.
“I want to give a huge THANK YOU to the property owner who reached out to me, allowed me to document, and share with all of you this once-in-a-lifetime glimpse into the secret life of urban wildlife!” he wrote in an Instagram post.
“It’s never my goal to humanize wildlife. It’s actually my TOTAL goal to “wildize” humanity to have a better understanding of the natural world that walks amongst us!”