Posted by: Wild Instincts | April 21, 2013

Shopping Surprise

As a full-time wildlife rehab facility with a tiny staff, we wear many hats and do many different tasks. One of the most challenging can be a simple trip to the store for supplies. We plan our errand trips around feeding schedules, etc. This time of year, however, we have spring interns so we have more flexibility, but we still plan around feeding schedules and intern schedules.
Even so, it’s amazing how often a simple trip to Menard’s can get derailed. Take this morning for example.
An incredibly generous donor gifted us funds to purchase an air compressor and nail gun to help with enclosure building. Mark was in Menard’s picking up this much needed equipment when the emergency cell phone rang. The reception in Menard’s is spotty at best, so Mark had to leave his cart and go take the call in the parking lot. It was someone calling in regards to an orphan. They already had it in their possession so Mark was able to rush back in and finish checking out. Then his quick trip to the store took a detour.
A man was out in his yard and saw what may have been a wolf crossing a field nearby. His daughter hasn’t seen a wolf so he got her from the house, they hopped in the truck and drove down a side road to see if they could catch a glimpse as it was crossing. As they got closer, they could tell it was a coyote and not a wolf. They also noticed it was carrying something in its mouth. As the truck got closer and the coyote crossed the road, it dropped what it was carrying and continued running.
Thinking it was a rabbit or some such prey, the man and his daughter, walked up to see what it was. They were totally surprise to see it wasn’t a dead rabbit, but a live puppy!
Mark left Menard’s to drive to their place. They all spent an hour in the still-knee-deep-snow backtracking, forward tracking, sidetracking and searching everywhere for a possible den. Lots and lots of coyote tracks, but no success in finding a den.
This young pup still has an umbilical cord stump and appears to be about 4 days old.


She looks like a domestic puppy. Could she be a puppy from someone’s litter the coyote stole for food? Possibly, but even if the coyote was feeding babies like it most likely is this time of year, it still would’ve dispatched it’s prey. Why take a chance on your meal getting away while you’re transporting it?
One of the many challenges of wildlife rehab is identifying young patients. Pinkies, those neonates that have no fur or distinguishing characteristics can be the most challenging. Sometimes similar species can be tricky when they are extremely young…red squirrel vs Eastern chipmunk, gray fox vs red fox, mice vs voles, etc. We follow all the clues and evidence and make our best educated guess. Many times it’s a few days before we can determine the species. Most of the time we are correct , but occasionally we are surprised.
With this little girl, all evidence points to her being a coyote. Time will tell.
When Mark finally returned from his what-the-heck-took-you-so-long-at-Menard’s trip, he told us all they were giving away bonuses with nail gun purchases and he couldn’t say no.
This just proves that when Mark goes to Menard’s, we never know for sure what he may come back with!



  1. This is a similar experience to what my family had several years ago – although it was not a coyote it was our family dog that brought back a dead puppy that looked very similar and was very young – from a walk in the woods. Nature can be odd.

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