Nature's Ways: The Coyote & The Coon

With the expansion of social media, it isn’t hard to come across the strange, crazy, and even down right unbelievable. With photo sharing and trail cameras expanding rapidly amongst society, we are able to capture, document, and share amazing findings almost instantly. With the amazing, also comes the macabre. Its almost cliche, but as we all know, nature isn’t always pretty - she’s raw, powerful, unrelenting and non-biased. Its a huge cornerstone of our advocacy here at Furbearer Conservation.

With all of this in mind, we always try to take time to share the examples of “nature’s way” we discover from our readers and supporters on social media. With reports like “Bear Eat Bear World” and “Cat Versus Coon” - there’s no shortage of the craziness documented by a growing number of people traversing the wilds of our natural land.

Such is the discovery shared this week by Josh Parks, who shared a “nature’s way” scene temporarily preserved in the forests of Camp Creek, West Virginia on his Facebook page.

No Free Meal

(Photo: Josh Parks | Facebook)

There’s clearly no such thing as a free meal in the wild. The image shows a raccoon carcass pinned on an elevated branch of a tree, with the remains of a coyote lying still below. It appears the coyote’s paw became wedged in a crook of the tree - with clearly little hope of release.

The original poster of the image, Josh Parks, writes on Facebook:

“Crazy scene from Camp Creek today.

Apparently the Coyote and Coon had a battle, the injured Coon ran up the Beech, the Coyote ran up after him and got his foot hung, the Coon died from blood loss and the Coyote, unable to free himself, died of starvation.

Edit: It’s most-definitely a possibility that the Coyote died from dehydration, stress, the elements.. any number of things. Most likely not from starvation.”

The image clearly shows the bottom section of the tree’s bark recently tore up with scratch and claw marks. A small “catch circle” of cleared dirt at the base of the tree would corroborate the statement that the coyote was caught alive and struggling - debunking some of the accusations from readers that the photo was staged.

Mr. Parks asserts in the comment section of the photo that the graphic scene was discovered by a forester, who in turn notified a park superintendent. According to other comments on the post, the photo has been making the rounds on the web.

Parks also states it appears the raccoon had expired before the coyote.

“The coon has been dead for a couple weeks. The Coyote, maybe a couple days.

We did find injury to the coon behind the left shoulder and the right rear leg. Don’t believe they were bullet wounds but didn’t check.”

Some have questioned the “final resting place” of the raccoon in particular. Although its certainly possible a human may have placed the animal there, the time of year seems unlikely to be the result of hunting, as the animal’s hide still poses value. Its also highly probable the animal was mortally injured from a vehicle and scaled the tree with its remaining burst of adrenaline. Without knowing anything about the situation, we speculate the injuries described could be consistent with a tussle involving a larger canine. If the coyote had attacked the raccoon, it would explain the injuries taking time to become lethal, allowing time for the injured animal to scale the tree, and would also explain the scene as we see it now. It wouldn’t explain, however, Josh’s assessment that the raccoon was clearly dead longer than the coyote.

While debate has arisen as to how the raccoon ended up where it did, there is little question about the chain of events leading to the coyote’s demise. Searching for a quick meal, we assert the coyote attempted to leap for a bite, and in the process, wedged its front paw in the crook of the tree. The markings displayed on the tree pretty much tell the rest of the story. The coyote does not appear to be overly emaciated - suggesting dehydration, exposure to the elements, or shock were the most likely fatal precursors. Based on other odd “twist-of-fate” scenarios we’ve come across, this scene, although amazing to be documented, isn’t completely surprising. In the wild, every creature must take risks to ensure survival - those risks come with varying odds each and every day.

Whatever the case may be, we have little doubt that Mr. Parks’ account of the events is accurate. He stumbled upon an aspect of nature rarely seen; and we thank him for sharing his images publicly to invoke discussion, curiosity, and insight.

Of course, on a side note, the tables are occasionally turned - as we’ve seen in this wildly popular video from Stealthcam: