By Martina Caplice
Landmark Crew Member
Canis latrans, the coyote, the prairie song dog, can be heard singing its story to the endless sky from dusk until dawn. These wild singers have been much persecuted throughout the years, along with many prairie predators. Lucky for the coyote, the value of predators is beginning to be recognized. In some places the coyote can breathe a sigh of relief and earn its bed and board by allowing a fleeting moment of its life to be captured on camera.
The coyote is one of the animals of interest to American Prairie Reserve (APR) and data on them is collected by the Landmark crew on transects and also from camera traps set up on ranches taking part in the reserve's Wild Sky rancher program. Through Wild Sky, profits from the sale of high-quality, grass-fed beef are used to pay ranchers in and around the project area who modify operations in accordance with American Prairie Reserve’s biodiversity goals, including carnivore compatibility. The camera traps not only allow for the abundance of coyotes to be monitored but also capture a moment in the life of the coyote, moments of puppy curiosity, a family outing, nighttime excursions or strolls in the sun.
It is wonderful to see these moments captured by the camera traps, to observe the wild as it should be, uninterrupted. It’s also great to know these moments are benefiting all parties involved, including the coyote, which has no idea it is even being captured.
Being a part of the Landmark crew, I have been able to see these beautiful animals in their home, the wild and wonderful prairie. I have been granted a snapshot into their world, either from the camera traps or from sightings out on transects. The coyote is sometimes just a blur of red-silver that bolts away, disappearing into the sagebrush. Or sometimes it’s an angry mother scolding an inquisitive pup that just wanted to come say hello to me at the end of a transect. Or sometimes it’s a highlight of data work when you see a female followed by her pups.
These opportunistic animals truly made my time on the prairie a hauntingly magic experience.
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