by Dave Hanks

 The snow is fluffily,
			“sifting” down.
		It leaves a thick “carpet-like” covering
				upon the ground.

		Its mystical magic
			that floats on the air.
		And it’s an invigorating joy
				to be out where –

		The wonders of life
			move to and fro.
		And lucky we are,
			that much I know,

		To have natural treasures
			so close at hand
		And everywhere present
			across sky and land

   Winter can be a good time to observe large mammals.
   Heavy snow makes movement inefficient for conserving 
   energy. Energy that is so important for winter survival, 
   when one must compete for the scarcity of available 
   food, and the energy to maintain body temperature under 
   cold conditions. The beasts are reluctant to move
   much, and if you are careful not to stress them, 
   you can get close up and personal.

Targee snow and moose

The Coyote: Nature’s Trickster

This is one of nature’s most cunning and most adaptable creatures. While other species have decreased, since the coming of white man, the Coyote has increased. They are so adaptable that they can actually be found in some cities. There are many Indian legends about them and about their tricky ways. Their scientific name (Canis latrans) means “barking dog”.

This intelligent carnivore has a wide range of vocalizations from barks to yelps, which are most heard at dusk, nighttime, or in the early morning. These calls help keep the group together. The tail is also used as body language. Different positions mean different things and a horizontal, bristled tail is a signal of aggression. Coyotes can be told from wolves by their smaller size, and when running they hold their tail down. Their tracks are also different than dogs – their front paw tracks are larger than their hind paw tracks.

They form loose family groups and will pair for several years or even for life. The den is either a burrow or in a rock crevice and its mouth can be from 5 to 30 feet wide. Mating takes place in February to April and after a 60 day gestation, 1 to 19 pups are born. As tremendous reproducers, it’s no wonder that they are so adaptable. The young leave their parents at 7 to 8 months.

Coyotes are opportunistic and will eat almost any flesh, including carrion. Usually solitary hunters, they will occasionally use others to run relays to tire the prey out or to lay in ambush. Other animals, such as Badgers, may unwittingly become victims, as the Coyote often steals their kill from them.

This canine can run up to 30 miles per hour and is a strong swimmer.

(Resting in the snow and allowing my wife a photograph)