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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Canadian Wild Dogs

My encounters with wild dogs in Canada from Coyotes to the hound of the Baskervilles...

My first encounter with wild dogs in Canada was just outside the camp we were based at near Medicine Hat as part of our military training. Just on the outskirts of the base is a small lagoon for the waste to run into, this proved an oasis for wildlife. I saw plenty of birds there from Black Duck to Palm Warbler.

There was some run off from the lagoon which flowed into a small reed bed, which was home to many species of birds such as Marsh Harrier, Short-eared Owl and close by I once saw a Say's Phoebe. There were of course the usual birds like Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-throat and Cowbirds galore.

One day while I was out by the lagoon birding, I was watching the Short-eared Owl quartering the reeds when I spotted some movement to the front but just to the the right of me, as I dropped my binoculars from my eyes I saw several other movements in the distance, all in different locations.

Suddenly I became aware that this movement belonged to a group of coyotes which seemed to be making there way along the reed bed as I turned to see where the owl had gone I caught in the corner of my eye another coyote, this one was sat watching me and he was no further than fifty meters away.

I scanned around some more only to realise that I was in fact almost surrounded by coyotes. I decided to slowly turn to the side of the closest dog and to slowly walk away from this situation. I have no idea what their intent was but I was not going to hang around to find out.

My second encounter was while returning from an ammunition run I was looking out the window of my truck, when I saw a coyote running past our vehicle, (it is worth noting that we were traveling at 30mph) and in hot pursuit of the coyote was what could only be described as one of the hounds of the Baskervilles.

It was a large dog almost Doberman like, but its head was absolutely massive in relation to its body (and I swear it had red eyes), I said to my driver look, that coyote is running for its life and that dog has only one thing in mind and that is to have that Prairie Wolf for lunch.

As they passed our truck the coyote changed direction, deciding to cross the track in front of our vehicle and in so doing it lost some of its traction, its back legs were going ten to the dozen when the hound was snapping at his back legs. The coyote back legs moved like a cartoon characters would in terms of speed. Once again the coyote changed direction and headed up hill parallel to the track we were driving along and then they disappeared over the hill, bear in mind we were still doing 30mph.

A short time later we saw the hound on its way back heading in the direction they had come from and he was looking pretty pleased with himself. I got to wondering how on earth did this dog end up on the ranges here. So I did some research and found that a lot of dogs had been released by the Black Foot nation when they went into the reservations and I guess this big black hound may have been one of the descendants from that time.

That day I will never forget.

My third encounter was after having had the shear pleasure of seeing a Prairie Falcon flying parallel to my vehicle at eye level, which had stayed with me for a least a mile before veering off, was.

Whilst driving back to base, I saw in the distance a sight I never thought I would ever see in my lifetime...


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