Sunday, January 11, 2015

Northern Virginia Coyotes

If I were to survey an audience of Northern Virginians asking what the most often seen mammals in the area are, white-tailed deer, gray squirrel, and raccoons might be at the top of that list.

Following these, other mammals often seen might be foxes, bats, rats, mice, and groundhogs.

One mammal though, would most likely be at the bottom of this list.  
Large eastern coyote camera-trapped in Great Falls, Virginia.
Photo: Brian Balik/The Nature Conservancy

That is the Eastern Coyote (Canis latrans).

Eastern Coyotes are seldom seen critters.  They lurk around being extremely cautious of their surroundings.  They use our parks as stomping grounds, our creeks as drinking holes, and our stream valleys and golf courses as travel corridors.

I've spent a lot of time in the past few years studying them, tracking them, and surveying them with many camera-traps.  From park naturalist jobs to volunteering for the Smithsonian National Institution, I've seen them in most towns of northern Virginia.

Great Falls, McLean, Langley, Sterling, Reston, Leesburg, Lovettsville, Purcellville, Alexandria, Centreville, Chantilly, Springfield, Manassas, and Burke are all places where I have seen or heard living coyotes, seen them as roadkill, or even caught them on camera-traps.  

They've been confirmed by naturalists in Arlington County (see link: Coyote Hit By Car Near Arlington Cemetery )  and studied by professional biologists in Quantico (see link: Quantico Coyote Study).

They are in Northern Virginia whether you believe it or not.

Coyotes are a big part of my job and just about every time I'm involved in a conversation about coyotes, the discussion leads to coy-wolves.  "Do we have coy-wolves?", "I saw a coy-wolf on my street.", and "I heard a story about a dog being attacked by a coy-wolf." always seem to be uttered.

Well, the truth is, is that the coyotes that we have around here are the eastern coyote, or a subspecies of coyote.  It is not exactly the same as the coyotes depicted in the Western United States but they are closely related.

To most people's surprise, the Eastern Coyote is, in most part, the same animal as the Coy-wolf.  I say "in most part" because there could be some outliers or other samples that have not yet been studied.

Many area biologists say that area studies have shown that almost all of the coyotes we have here are made up of about 60% coyote, 30% wolf, and 10% dog.  I'm still looking for exact published papers to confirm this. 

What this all means though, is that is correct to say that we have coyotes, coy-wolves, and eastern Coyotes in Northern Virginia.

To everyone reading this, I very highly recommend watching the PBS Nature documentary titled "Meet The Coywolf".  It's free to watch online in the U.S.  Click on this link to watch it : Meet the Coywolf .

The professionals in this documentary go in depth (definitely more than I will on this blog post) about the history, biology, and ecology of the coy-wolf.

One of my best camera-traps almost misses the chance at capturing a coyote in Fairfax County.  Photo:  Brian Balik


When I first started doing research on these canines, I was told by many other professionals to first seek out their scat, tracks, and dens.  That way, I could better find places to scout and place camera-traps.
Possible coyote scat.  Loudoun County, VA.
Photo: Brian Balik

This lead me down the wrong direction though.
Here's why:

Coyote scat can look almost exactly like fox scat or raccoon scat, depending on the size of the coyote, the time of year, and the contents of the scat.  There is a big difference in these scats though, but for my projects, I didn't have the time to do this kind of survey.  Every time I would find scat, I would second guess myself, put out a camera anyway, and not get any pictures of coyotes.

Coyote tracks are so similar to dog tracks, that even the highest qualified biologists can sometimes not even tell if they are of coyote or a domestic dog (like Fido that lives in your house).  Many books will tell you that coyote tracks are a little thinner and "sharper" than dog tracks, but most of the tracks that I've seen of dogs can be of hundreds of shapes and sizes.  This is so incredibly subjective to how fast the dog was walking, dog breed, and the weight of that individual dog.

Possible coyote den.  Leesburg Virginia.  Photo: Brian Balik
Dens are tricky to survey, and although I've found a lot of "confirmed" coyote dens, most of them were not in use of the time of surveying.
So while most other professionals were telling me to look for these signs, then put out the trail cameras (camera-traps), I did the exact opposite.

The best way that I've ever tracked these animals was just to go out in the woods or fields, not specifically looking for any coyote activity at all.
Anywhere and everywhere, I figured I would do mouth calling, calling with reed coyote callers, and of course, my favorite, the camera-trap.

The results were phenomenal and to everyone's amazement, they have shown up.

A pair of coyotes.  Picture taken in Centreville, Virginia.  Photo:  Brian Balik
Fairfax County Coyote taken in the summer of 2013.  Photo:  Brian Balik


Fairfax County Coyote taken in the Summer of 2013 (2). Photo:  Brian Balik.

Now while you may enjoy photos like this, some people do not enjoy coyote sightings to any extent.  To some farmers (especially of chickens, ducks, geese, and goats) coyotes are not a welcomed sight.  One thing to realize about coyotes in Virginia is that they are considered a "nuisance species" by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  Source: VDGIF-Coyotes .

People ask me all the time about this and why they are a nuisance species. I tell them that they could be considered this for a couple of reasons.  They eat livestock, eggs, grain, and food that some farmers depend on for their income and life.  More coyotes may mean more of a problem to a farm.

Coyotes were also never around northern Virginia until just recently.  An article from the Washington Post indicates that the first sighting ever of a coyote in Loudoun County was in 1992 (see link to access the archived Wash. Post article:  Washington Post: Coyote Article ). 

People seem astonished when they realize that coyotes were not naturally living here when Jamestown was settled or when George Washington lived in Mount Vernon.  They were fairly new to the area when Lorena Bobbit did, well, you know.

Whether you like them around or not, the Eastern Coyote calls northern Virginia its home.  I've found out that the best nights to go out and see one are near a full moon, when there's a little snow on the ground, and the temperatures are cold.

This way, the snow reflects the moonshine and you can see what is around.

To hear a coyote, get up really early or stay out around midnight in Loudoun or Fairfax.  Make a call with your voice that resembles a wolf-howling but a lot more high-pitched.  Even higher pitched than a beagle waiting for breakfast.

You may hear one or see one, and if you do, please let me know.  I'd love to add that coyote to my camera-trapping projects.

Thank you.

102 comments:

  1. I have seen a coyote in sterling before - specifically in the horsepen run nature trail area (owned by countryside). It would seem like a good habitat for them

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    1. That's a heavily wooded area along the river that contains a few meadow areas. Looks like it would be perfect coyote habitat to me. When was this sighting?

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    2. Brian I am not sure but think I saw a white wolf the other night in Front Royal....well outside of FR off Browntown Road. My daughter actually caught it in her headlights and kept the light shinning in its eyes until I could come out on the porch to take a look. Bigger than I coyote and almost pure white...bushy tail...very tall at the back. Not usual to see Coyotes but this was something completely out of the norm. He/she was big, beautiful and very graceful...when he took off down the road I could not hear foot steps at all.

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    3. McLean VA/Arlington VA, near or right next too Chain Bridge leading to Washington D.C. multiple sightings and one unidentified attack on a human walking a dog, in the case which the animal in question was said to be a red fox which is not the normal behavior of a red fox but of a larger predator with a pack mentality could have seen opportunity preying on a human and dog. There is little belief without proof therefor Camera traps will be put to use so not to disturb any wild life. All photos will be posted of Coyotes but not the friendly neighborhood fox which is accepted. Personally seen two Coyotes, with no natural fear of humans. Proof will be in the camera roll that they are present, around us, and please if you have a very small dog or animal do not leave them alone outside. Even in the early morning. (DO NOT LEAVE DINNER LEFT OVERS FOR WILD LIFE)

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    4. Large coyote spotted Loudoun bounty Virginia night time red glowing eyes 22 Jan 2016

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    5. I spotted one this evening. In the back of my property here in Prince George va. My husband spotted one racking a cross our back yard the other day . We live in Wards Creek Rd near the hunting club. We can here them HOWLING late at night.

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    6. I seen one this evening messing around the back of my property here in Prince George county va. My husband seen one running from the woods across the back property to the woods on the other side. We live near the hunt club on Wards Creek Rd. We can hear them howling sometimes. My neighbors have seen them as well.

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    7. I'm located in woodbridge,I have seen one on my steps. I happened to walk out the side door to go to my car. I saw a flash of what looked like a fox tail dart into my hedges. But as I stood, I saw something much bigger than a fox, and a brown color go across the road into a different yard. It was around 7 or 8 pm.

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  2. This sighting was actually this past summer while I was running the trails around 8 pm. I believe right at the beginning of august, if not very late july. Definitely not a Fox as we have those running around here all the time

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    1. Very cool! Did it immediately run away when (if) it saw you?

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  3. It did.. Didn't seem to want to stick around. First time I've ever seen one actually - but it wouldn't surprise me if there were more back there. I have a friend who periodically sees them on the old landfill hill behind McPherson Circle as well.

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    1. Oh yeah I know exactly where that is. Would you or that friend have any pictures of them by any chance?

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  4. I do not, not sure if he does but he sees them there somewhat frequently. He isn't the only person who's seen them there either, apparently many other people have had sightings around that general area as well. I never would've thought there would be coyotes here, but I suppose the habitat it right.

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    1. They're all over here. Meadows, woods, thick forests, highways, and creeks are all places that they travel.

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  5. Humans seem to think that all species aside from themselves are nuisances. It won't be long before the Earth makes that judgement about us and shakes us off like a nasty case of fleas.

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  6. Brian, Neighbors had mentioned possible coyotes in our neighborhood (Somerset), though some of us were skeptical until my wife and I went out for a walk late one summer night. At the corner of Laurel and Lenox (near Woodson HS) a male coyote chased a female (in heat I believe) right out of the stream valley park at the base of the hill. The female (1st coyote) literally bounced off a minivan parked on the street and headed towards us. A quick shout at the both of them had them careening back into the woods in whatever game or activity they were engaged. I'm guessing one was in heat because the smell of them was quite pungent. It made for an exciting walk and good conversation at parties.

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    1. That's a very interesting encounter. Thanks for sharing. That area is a place well known for coyotes, as I have gotten many emails in the past 2+ years with people sharing other sightings and wanting to know more information. Any chance you got a picture of them?

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    2. I have also seen Coyotes in Somerset Olde Creek, not so far this year though.

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  7. I saw one last night near Waples Mill. This was easily twice the size of a fox. I thought it was a dog at first, but it was probably a coyote.

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    1. Very cool! Thanks for commenting! Was it deceased or still currently living?

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  8. Just an FYI. There was a coyote hit by a car earlier this week on route 28 in the Sterling area. It was dead along the road by an open field near the Wegmans shopping plaza. The next day it was gone so not sure if a wildlife officer picked it up. I knew they were around here but that's the first one I've actually seen in person.

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    1. Oh wow! Thanks for sharing that. That is pretty close to where I have many cameras. I wonder if it could be one of the same ones that I've seen hanging around Eastern Loudoun.

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  9. I get them on trail cameras all the time coming out of prince william forest park onto my property

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    1. That's a really good area where I have heard rumors of them being in good numbers? If you'd like to share the photos, send me an email at balikbrian@gmail.com . I'm always interested in seeing individual coyotes and trail camera pictures.

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  10. They were introduced in Rock Creek Park to control the deer herd years ago, they've been here a lot longer than most know! Now that they are out of control hence all the sightings!

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    1. I'm actually unsure about that one. Let me know if you find an article or scientific study that says that coyotes were introduced in the D.C. area.

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  11. We saw two in our backyard seemed like they were fighting as they were very loud. On the boarder of Centreville and Manassas close to Ordway and route 28.

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    1. Definitely a large population of coyotes in that area. They are commonly seen in parks nearby and I have gotten them on camera many times in that immediate area. Let me know if you ever get pictures of them!

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  12. We had a deer kill on Carriage Drive in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County (we live nestled into Lee District Park, Huntley Meadows and Greendale Golf Course). Coyotes are a semi-regular sighting in the neighborhood, with a wooded tract that connects Lee District Park on one side of Telegraph Road to the 18th tee box at Greendale Golf Course.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. When I first wrote this blog post, I had no idea how many sightings of coyotes were in that area of Fairfax. I knew they were around there and have seen them there more than a few times, but it's shocking to me to hear about so many sightings within those few square miles. Thanks for the tip!

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    2. The deer kill was pretty ugly, guts ripped open, head torn off and left chewed by the rump. FCPD Animal Control was pretty sure it was coyotes.Hot spots in this area are my little pocket of woods off of Carriage Dr., the neighborhoods surrounding the downhill slope of Mt. Comfort Cemetery (Austin Ct., etc), the woods along power line right of way through Rose Hill & Kingstowne, and the Wickford neighbrhood off of Telegraph Rd (which backs up to the Coast Guard Station on one side and backs to Huntley).

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    3. The deer kill was pretty ugly, guts ripped open, head torn off and left chewed by the rump. FCPD Animal Control was pretty sure it was coyotes.Hot spots in this area are my little pocket of woods off of Carriage Dr., the neighborhoods surrounding the downhill slope of Mt. Comfort Cemetery (Austin Ct., etc), the woods along power line right of way through Rose Hill & Kingstowne, and the Wickford neighbrhood off of Telegraph Rd (which backs up to the Coast Guard Station on one side and backs to Huntley).

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    4. We live in Clermont, close to Rose Hill and have seen a coyote twice in our back yard in the last 6 months.

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  13. My husband was pretty sure that it was a coyote he saw trotting down Lincoln Ave in Manassas a few nights ago during a light rain, around midnight. He said it seemed unconcerned that he had opened the front door, and kept trotting down the road toward a small patch of woods off Prince William Street. He has seen coyotes before, so has a good idea what they look like.

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  14. I am pretty sure I saw one here in Arlington yesterday evening at around 2030 crossing the street neat the intersection of Glebe and n George Mason Dr. I was running so my phone wasn't at the ready but it was a smaller one. There is a lot of wooded area there adjacent to the paths.

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  15. Front royal tonight...saw one about a mile from home...crossed right in front of me - almost hit it. I had no clue they were here in Virginia...

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  16. Just saw a coyote with mange in our backyard in the Harbors of Newport which is almost in Dumfries on Rt 1

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  17. I had two go across my property last night around midnight. They woke me with their yelping and barking - sounded like more than two but I only saw two. I thought they must be trailing/hunting something. I have heard them many times and believe they occupy the are on a regular basis. I live to the southwest of Round Hill.

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    1. My neighbor saw one from about 20 yards in a creek near our homes. He told me he had his dogs with him and the coyote howled perhaps to warn the back and there were several responses from other coyotes. I am convinced that there are more than the two I saw, perhaps 3 or 4 based on the noise they make sometimes.

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  18. Great work, for you to come out to any of my nature homeschooling program in Great falls or Springfield and talk about trail cameras, and maybe do some tacking with us. I am also starting up and wilderness skills group and would love to have you be a part of this group. Check out the non-profit I am working with (Ancestral Knowledge.org). Please email back ASAP with some contact info so we can make something happen.

    josh

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  19. Just saw one last night at around 8:00 pm near Mt. Vernon Hwy. and Forest Haven Drive in Mt. Vernon. He was pretty big. We were driving and did not get a photo. We have seen prints in our yard that we suspect are his, but not sure. The neighbors have seen him around the creek area, but this is our first sighting.

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  20. One night last week (wed?) my dog started growling while doing her bedtime business. I saw the silhouette of a dog and thought it was a neighbors dog off leash eyeballing our foodbowl.

    I grabbed a flashlight and it was still there. What looked like a 65lb wolfdog staring at us. It immediately trotted off and hasnt been seen since. But I had heard coyote like howls at night for some time now. Now I know why.

    Astonished in Lovettsville.

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    1. Great observation! Thank you for reporting that sighting to me.

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  21. I saw a coyote in our driveway two nights ago about 8 pm. I was looking outside while waiting for a guest to arrive and saw a huge fox like animal just standing in our driveway. We are off Old Dominion and Balls Hill Rd. I wasn't aware that we have coyotes in McLean so at first I thought it was a huge fox and was wondering about the size until I realized it could be a coyote. When our guest's car pulled in, the coyote ran away. My dog would not go out that evening no matter how much we tried even two hours later after the coyote sighting. We had to take him out at a different side of our house and even then he was scared to do his business. I talked to other neighbors and they also had similar experience with their dogs on that evening.

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    1. Thank you for commenting! I frequent the Great Falls, McLean area and am very familiar with the roads you described. It's a good area for coyotes, as there are water sources, lots of wooded areas, horse farms, and the river corridor which they may travel in. It's interesting that your dog behaved that way. Glad it didn't have an interaction with the coyote!

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  22. I think I just saw a coyote near the Arlington Cementery at around midnight. It looked white or gray, it was bigger than a fox. It was not a residential area for it to be a dog. It was about to cross the road. I am sure it was not fox as I have seen many and this one was definitely bigger and white/gray.

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    1. Very interesting! Could very well be a coyote. They are seen frequently on the cemetery grounds there and one was even roadkilled not far from the cemetery last year (a dark black one too!). Thanks for the comment and interest!

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    2. Very interesting! Could very well be a coyote. They are seen frequently on the cemetery grounds there and one was even roadkilled not far from the cemetery last year (a dark black one too!). Thanks for the comment and interest!

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  23. Hi Brian,
    Great blog spot! I have become interested in CoyWolves/Eastern Coyotes because of the constant coyote singing close to my home in Kingstowne. This has been going on for months. I think most of them may be living in and around Huntlee Meadows Park and surrounding areas like Lee District Park, Greendale Golf course etc. There is lots of wooded areas, like the rest of Northern Virginia that gives these animals plenty of cover. I have called them myself and gotten responses twice. The calls always come from the direction of Huntlee Meadows (south of my house), I haven't heard them in back, but I bet they are there. If you ever want to set up camera traps, there are many good spots that would probably yield results. Including the culvert that cuts under Telegraph Road close to the intersection of South Kings Highway.

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    1. Hello and thank you! Good to hear your interest in the Eastern Coyote. They are fascinating creatures! That area no doubt has coyotes. I've seen them there a few times. This is all great information. A few of the local stream parks are also good for coyote sightings. When you say you called them, do you mean you howled with your voice or do you have a coyote caller?

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    2. Hi Brian, sorry to be so long in getting back to you. I just used my voice to call to them. Sometimes they respond, sometimes they don't. Sometimes my neighbors look out the window to see who's calling sometimes they don't HA! At least no one has taken a shot at me!

      Did you you see the post by Kathleen Kittrick posted on Nov 26, 15. She must live very close to me.

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  24. I live just outside of Quantico. We have a healthy population of coyotes here. My husband and I even came up on a whole litter of pups one night. This time of year, I can hear them almost every night! I love them! Such amazing animals!

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    1. Ah yes the Quantico coyotes! Lots and lots of reports of them come from that exact area. When you hear them, do they howl or yip or both?

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  25. Just my voice. I also got an response from my neighbor the next morning. He wanted to know what meds I was on.

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    1. Ha! I've "been there done that" with people hearing me and thinking it's the weirdest thing to call coyotes this way.

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  26. I found this blog while searching for info on coyotes in Kingstowne. We live adjacent to the Greendale Golf Couse and last night around 6 pm, my daughter was taking our puppy outside for a potty break when several starting howling and rushing through the wooded area between our house and the golf course. She didn't realize what it was at first because the noise sounded like a sire or screaming baby but when she heard them running through the leaves she picked up the puppy and ran in the house. My husband was in the kitchen and he too heard the coyotes screaming. He thought they had gotten our dog and had torn her to shreds from the sound of it. Thankfully all ok but it's way too close for my comfort level.

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    1. Hi Kathleeen,

      I posted a couple of questions to Brian in November and just checked back to see his answers. And i saw your post. I live in Kingstowne, too. In Carlisle on Waldo. You must be pretty close.

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  27. A friend was able to get a great photograph of one in Orlean, VA. Not sure how to upload it here.

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    1. Hello. Sorry for the late response, but I'd be interested in seeing any photos of a Virginia coyote. Please send to balikbrian@gmail.com if the photo is still available.

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  28. I am pretty sure that I just saw a wolf although an unusual color. I am very use to coyotes since moving here from New Mexico in May. I have lots of picture of coyotes from there. This was bigger and fuller but had a cream colored coat with reddish color on tail and shoulders. He was loping through the large back yard where the deer come out to eat. I was thrilled to see him.

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  29. Saw two coyotes in Alexandria/Franconia this morning about 0700 running on Cobbs Rd heading west towards Valley View. They crossed Valley View and ducked behind the fence line of the house on the corner of Valley View and Jean Louis Way.

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  30. Heard a pack howling just off Rt 7 west of Berryville last night. Many, not the first time to hear them....

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  31. I had two unusual sightings on the same night about two weeks ago. As I was driving down Dale Blvd I passed a deer walking down the side of the road right in front on the MacDonald's on Mapledale Dr. I live in Montclair and I'm used to seeing deer on 234,the PW Pkwy, Hoadley, and in the wooded section of Old Delany, however, the deer in front of McDonald's was a first. The second strange sighting,less then ten minutes later, was a coyote in the wooded section of Old Delany rd. The speed limit is 25 mph on that rd so I had a chance to get a really good look at it as it froze in front of my car. I've seen foxes, rabbits, and deer in this patch of woods almost every time I've driven through there at night and there was no mistaking the much larger coyote for a fox. Unfortunately I was driving and couldn't snap a quick pic but with the diversity of wild animals I've seen in this small wooded area you would probably have great luck catching them on camera. And it's only a matter of time before we start seeing them in Montclair. I've warned my kids to come straight home if they are out playing and see "a dog" with no leash.
    Thanks to all of the people who have posted their coyote sightings on this website. I'll be checking it frequently and posting where and when I see them. Liz

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  32. Here is a similar project I saw recently with trail cameras in northern Virginia. Includes coyote, black bear, bobcat, and deer. There are some big animals out there. https://novacountryside.wordpress.com/

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    1. Never heard of this website until now. Thank you so much for sharing it!

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  33. I saw what I thought was a large fox on the trail around 10AM a couple of days ago in Reston, near Soapstone and Southlakes Drive, near the 7-11. I thought it was a fox at a distance, but then saw a true fox running from it. It was larger, and wasn't concerned about the fox. Was busy marking it's territory on some trees in a clearing.It was mostly black with white and grey, with what looked like tan under the tail. I tried to capture it on my cell camera, but it was moving too fast running in circles, and marking, then disappeared in what looked like a low large hole in the ground across the creek.

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    1. Oh wow! It's really interesting that it was at 10am. Although they are not nocturnal, coyotes here are only sometimes seen in daylight hours. Your description sounds like a coyote to me. THanks for the report. Check back in if you see anything else!

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  34. I saw one last night near the dumpster at the end of South Orme Street in Arlington, right across from the Henderson Hall main gate. Perhaps the same one was in my front yard during the big January snowstorm. Both sightings were fairly late at night.

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  35. I'm wondering if what we hear is a coyote: it's a high pitched bark/howl usually around midnight. It really freaks my dogs out. We live close the corner of Stone Rd and Braddock Rd in Centreville, Va. We hear them most nights, especially with the fluctuating temps we've been having. Any ideas?

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    1. Camera traps have caught coyotes not even a mile from you, so it is very likely. The noise of coyotes differs than that of foxes. Foxes are more like a high-pitched bark or "cawwww". Coyotes are a lot more yippy and sometimes long high pitched howls. Interesting observations. I appreciate the comment!

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  36. Hi,
    I love your blog. I've been hearing coyotes singing most nights recently out where I live, just north of Crow's Nest in Stafford County, by Aquia Landing. I chased one away from my chicken coop a couple of times this winter as well; seen scat in my yard several times. I think they are denning somewhere close, we've been hearing them more often this Spring. If you are interested in setting up some camera traps down this way, let me know.
    -Angie

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    1. Hi! Thank you. Let me know if you ever find a den near there, I'd be very interested in putting a camera trap on one.

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  37. Here in Great Falls, VA just saw my first coyote. We've been hearing them at night. I think I've found the den here on our property. Want to watch??

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    1. Absolutely. Send me an email to balikbrian@gmail.com. Great Falls is VERY accesible to me, as I'm there every day.

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  38. Glanced out my sister's kitchen window in Park Fairfax (Alexandria) and saw a grey mid size canine trot by. Was that a coyote, I thought? This is midday, pretty urban around here. No owner followed it. It was a very brief look as it flashed by.

    I'm from Sacramento, we have lots of squirrels, a few Opposums, skunks, but no coyotes in the urban area.

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    1. Grey canine?! Probably a coyote! The urban and built up suburban areas here in VA are great for coyotes. They enjoy the easy pickings of garbage/handouts, as well as an abundance of roadkilled deer and their natural diets of rabbit and rodents.

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  39. Live in McLean Hamlet neighborhood off of Lewinsville Road. Found a dead deer in our yard about two weeks ago with a big chunk eaten out of its chest/stomach area. Called animal control and they wouldn't remove it from private property. Next morning it was gone and there was a trail of fur from where it was originally laying and the trail of fur went over 50 feet to the woods. Walked back to the woods and found the head and a little of the upper body, but the rest was gone completely. We had been wondering what could have dragged it that far. Then....was watching groundhog in the yard two days ago and saw what I thought was a very large fox come to the edge of the woods....but far too big to be a fox and looked just like one of the coy wolf photos I found on the web. It got spooked and ran away.

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    1. Interesting observation. I frequent the area only a few miles away near Georgetown Pike/Old Dominion and see coyotes once in a while there. Thanks for the comment!

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  40. Live in McLean hamlet neighborhood off of Lewinsville rd. found dead deer in back yard 2 weeks ago. The next morning it had been dragged out of the yard to the woods over 50 feet away. I walked into woods to find it and found the head, neck and a little of the upper body. The rest was all gone. The day before it was dead and missing most of its chest/stomach area. Then....two days ago was watching a groundhog in the backyard and saw what, at first, I thought was a very large fox. Then realized foxes don't grow to be the size of large dogs. Then looked online and figured out it was a coy wolf ..... Looked just like one of the pictures of a coywolf with reddish orangish fur, size of a large dog and same face/mouth as coywolf pic online. It got spooked so the groundhog lived, but it is concerning that there is a coywolf (and where there's one there are probably more) in Falstaff Park.

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  41. I believe I saw a coyote in North Arlington, two blocks off of Pershing Drive and not too far from Glebe Road, on Sunday morning while walking my dog. It looked like a tan and brown German Shepherd, but with longer legs and a narrower rib cage. Its ears stood up straight. It rounded a house in a wooded area and disappeared. My dog never even saw it.

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    1. Hello. Thanks for the comment. It's fascinating that the dog never saw it and differs from other reports. Usually, the dog is the first to sense something like a coyote. I get reports occasionally from North Arlington, so I know they are there.

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  42. We have a coyote that comes into our backyard all the time (we back up to woods). We live in the Springfield area (Saratoga) It is very large, and beautiful.

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  43. Saw coyote tonight about midnight in my yard stalking a skunk which was in our culvert. He then went down the street then came back to the culvert and then took off again

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  44. I was reading your blog with interest as my explorer children swear they saw a coyote yesterday afternoon around 4pm. We live in Fox Mill Estates, Herndon, and there is a nice creek running through the neighborhood. My children play in the woods all the time. They are familiar with foxes and thought this animal was distinctly different (noting esp. the pointy ears and size).

    I didn't really believe them until I found your blog and realized all the sightings nearby.

    My one question is, should I be worried for my children? By this I mean, they are taught to respect wildlife and not taunt, but are coyotes usually aggressive? What could I instruct them to do should this happen again (besides take a picture??!!)

    Thanks in advance, and we appreciate your blog!

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  45. My daughter just saw one off of gw Parkway between Reagan national and old town. She said it was just alittle smaller than herself. She is an 8 yr old that weighs 52 lbs.

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  46. Annandale, trotting the tree line next to dense parkland that abuts a field.
    Really odd looking, as it's fur was quite short looking, no "fluff' at all to the tail. Neighbors are saying some of the foxes are looking mangy this year, I think this poor thing was afflicted as well.

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  47. Another one spotted in Horsepen Run behind Dulles Airport. Riding motorcycle on gravel road in Metro construction area, came up on 1 in daytime (5pm). Large skinny brownish red kind. Very skittish. Soon as it saw me, it entered wood line.

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  48. Also, the brownish red one I spotted on Horsepen Run was much larger than small grey coyotes I've seen in Colorado. I initially thought it was a wolf. Had some wolfish looking features and browner coat. It appeared to between wolf and coyote size. I did not fear coyotes in Colorado, they were small enough that I could kick them if attached. This one was much larger and would be concerned if it attacked. Fyi, unlike bears, playing dead or running away is not a good option for coyotes. You need to stand ground and fight for survival similar to Mountain Lion encounters.

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  49. 2 more sightings, except now they are moving into Prince William County as well.

    1. Road kill on side of road in Gainesville Route 29 in front of Wegmans. Have pictures to upload, if possible.

    2. Gainesville again, Promenade Town Center in front of Target, another road kill in middle of street. Drove around it, thinking it was a fox. On the way back, thought I better take a better look, given previous sightings. Yup, another coyote / wolf thing, this time a pup.

    I think it is great having these things around, especially to take care of all the deer and bunnies. However, It is only a matter of time before they start scaring the neighbors. I hate to think what will happen next.

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  50. Brian, Not sure if this post is still monitored, but we have them in Gainesville, VA. Especially along broad Run from about Glenkirk RD down to 28 along the flood plain and meadow areas. I saw 2 take down a baby deer yesterday afternoon and one resident reported seeing 6 adults and seven pups walking down Catbird DR. in the Meadow at Morris Farm community.

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  51. Hi Brian,

    Just wanted to get back to you. I'm in Kingstowne and initially communicated with you about coywolves on November 19, 2015. I was was giving my dog a midday walk a couple of weeks ago (Thursday July 21) when a large Eastern Coyote ran right past me while I was on the asphalt path behind my house. It's gate was more of a relaxed lope. It didn't seem to be frightened of me other than altering its path slightly to avoid me. It came out of the bushes in front of me and only when it saw me did it veer away from us slightly. It ran along the back of the houses until it cleared them and slipped into the woods. It was very stealthy and I never heard it's footfalls as it ran past. Like a ghost.

    I got a very clear look at it. It was taller than my pooch, leaner but very healthy looking with short fur. I would say between 60 and 70 pounds. It's face was broad and clearly very wolf-like.

    Now today, one of my neighbors kids told me that he saw an adult and puppy munching on a squirrel a couple of evenings ago (he said about 6 PM)and that they went into the woods when they saw him.

    Do you think that their population density is growing? If that is so, could that cause them to become aggressive towards humans as competition for food increases?

    Daryl

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  52. There have been frequency sightings of a large coyote in and around Great Falls Village for the past couple of years. I saw it for the first time, at the beginning of August, walking through my yard (likely coming from the creek or pond). We actually surprised one another when I was taking out the trash. It was around 7 pm and still very light out. We were about 20 feet apart when our paths crossed. The coyote stopped and looked at me for a bit and then went on its way. Very beautiful animal, but much larger (large German Shepard sized) than other coyotes I have seen before.

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  53. Hi Brian, great site! I live in a small neighborhood in Fairfax called Bonnie Brae and we have been seeing a young coyote for the past several months. Always during the day and many times quite near people. It use to have a hurt foot and was spotted several times walking on just three legs but I saw it again today around 11:30 am and it was walking fine. It worries me a little that it's out so often in the daytime and around people.

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  54. I'm in Woodbridge on the east side of 95. I live right near Potomac Mills Mall. Around 7 or 8 pm went out my side door and saw a brownish red large coyote. This area has been building up townhouses the past year or so, I guess the cover of trees are no longer around. There are some established cat colonies here, so I'm assuming the coyote is scavenging easy food from people feeding the cats. Now I know why my dogs go nuts barking at night, about a week ago.

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  55. Hi. We live just outside of the Town of Vienna. We believe our cameras caught a fox not a coyote. But not really sure. Here is a link to the footage. Would be interested in your opinion. https://youtu.be/IwUQ7VcErp8

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  56. This evening heard a pack howling in the Nokesville area, just north of town near the train tracks. Sound matched several recordings of coyote howls exactly (higher pitched, with scream-like howls), and a Google search for coyotes in Northern VA led here. No idea how many would have been howling, but it sounded like quite a few. Thanks for the info on coyotes in our area!

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  57. Saw a coyote in my yard this morning just after 8am. First time I have seen one. It looked just like a wolf and was bigger than the foxes I have seen. We are in Woodlea Manor in Leesburg and our property backs onto a golf course. There is a very small wooded area between us and the golf course. It ran right into the middle of our lawn, stopped and looked around. I stepped away from the window for a couple of seconds to reach for my phone but it had already disappeared. Going to keep my eyes and ears open now!

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  58. Neighbor in loudoun has them in his farm. Caught oictures of them.

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  59. A pack of coyotes come daily around dinner time right outside of the fencing of my yard. They bark back and forth with my dogs. -Fairfax city

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  60. Stafford County March 7 2017
    Saw a coyote crossing Mountain View Rd. at about 5:30 PM
    close to Stafford airport area. Skinny creature but healthy and fit.
    I am 100% sure..also saw one while bow hunting at Quantico base about nine
    years ago.

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  61. I heard them howling last night which brought me to this blog when I googled if there were wolves in Sterling. I live in Sterling in the Countryside community . I didn't even know there were Coyotes around here!

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  62. we hear them in lovettsville just as you metioned around midnight or after. pretty howls. also would like to mention that i saw one up close and personal just outside of loudoun (Ranson w. va to be exact ) aut 3 and a half yrs ago. i was renting a basement for a few months that had a back door and the back yard backed right up to the woods. i stepped outside the backdoor at about 1 am to smoke. i had just shut the door behind me very quietly not to wake the people up stairs and 1 minute later there she or he came aroung the side of the house in all its silvery beauty and stuck its head right into the rabbit hole at the edge of the woods directly in front of me. i measure the distance when day light came. it was 17 feet away from where i was standing, with the moon light i could see it perfectly clear. i was so startled and in disbelief i just froze perfecty still and when it took its face out of the rabbit hole i very slowly put my hand on the door knob just in case and thats when it noticed me. we locked eyes and both froze for about a min and a half and my heart was beating 10 miles an hour. she/he broke the stare and so quietly leaped and vanished into the dark woods. i had no idea at that time that they were around. 2 days later coincidently the same scenario i stepped outside only it was much earlier right after sunset and a Fox (looked nothing like the coyote) came running with its nose to the ground around the same side of the house and i kid you not ran right over my feet ( i was leaning against the door) and stuck its face in the same rabbit hole. it never even saw me. it kept running with its nose to the ground into the neighbors back yard. a few days later an injured cat took cover in the garage durring the snow storm. it was missing some skin on its leg with a few gashes. we tok her to the animal shelter when the roads were cleared a few days later.

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