While nighttime coyote serenades are par for the course in rural Los Altos Hills, daytime howling is not. After five successive days and nights, a pair of La Cresta Court residents knew something was amiss.
“There would be multiple cries coming out every hour,” said William Warrior, Palo Alto Animal Control officer. “So there was a sense something was wrong.”
Summoned to the scene April 26, Warrior uncovered a litter of coyote pups – his first in 40 years working the beat – scrambling around the tall grass and fallen leaves beside a home. The six pups seemed to be searching for shelter; a gentle pinch of their skin revealed dehydration. Warrior saw no sign of a den or a coyote parent, and a consult with experts from the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley assured him he wasn’t staging an over-rescue.
Perhaps docile from exhaustion, Warrior’s charges didn’t resist capture and placement in his portable kennel; one baring needle-like puppy teeth from its bed atop a towel appeared to do so in play or as part of a yawn.
“It’s going to be OK,” Warrior told the pups. “You’re going to be all right. Going to the hospital now.”
The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley in San Jose specializes in coyote care and rehabilitation, and staff members’ examination of the Los Altos Hills litter revealed the pups – five boys and a girl between approximately 4 and 5 weeks old – were underweight and infested with fleas and ticks, said Ashley Kinney, the nonprofit’s hospital manager. Staff administered subcutaneous fluids and anti-parasite treatments. A diet of specialized coyote formula and diced rodents commenced.
“They seem to be getting the hang of lapping up formula from a dish and actually they’re starting to eat chopped-up meat items,” Kinney said last week. “So at this point, the prognosis is much greater than it was when they were first admitted.”
The theory is the pups’ mother succumbed to a traffic accident or to mange. Her offspring will be raised indoors with another orphaned pup from Fremont until the group is old enough to relocate to an outdoor enclosure to learn how to become more self-sufficient and to thrive, Kinney said. Their exposure to humans will remain limited to prevent habituation, and if all goes as planned, center staff in September will return them to within 10 miles of where they were found, as is required by the state.
Considering the prevalence of wildlife predators in Los Altos Hills, including bobcats, foxes, mountain lions and hawks, Warrior marvels at the young coyotes’ ability to survive for days without a parent’s protection. He guessed the incessant barking of a nearby dog, agitated by their presence, may have helped scare away anyone seeking a snack.
“They were very lucky little dogs,” Warrior said.
To watch Warrior’s bodycam video of the rescue, visit vimeo.com/333022371.