Blinded by a shot above her eyes that she somehow survived, an emaciated coyote wandered for days or perhaps weeks around Southern California’s Santa Ynez Valley before she fell 30 feet into an empty reservoir in February.
Rescuing the coyote was no easy task. After receiving a call the afternoon of Feb. 11 on the Animal Rescue Team hotline, executive director Julia Di Sieno used a ladder to climb down into the reservoir. The coyote was crouched in a crevice.
She had not only been shot, but she was having difficulty breathing – not from the fall, but from ingesting rat poison. As Di Sieno used a catchpole to try to pull her out of the crevice, the terrified coyote went into cardiac arrest.
“She was dying,” Di Sieno told the Los Angeles Times.
Di Sieno’s assistants lowered a gurney, medical kit, blankets and towels into the reservoir. “Stop making noises that could stress this animal more than she already is,” she warned them.
An injection of epinephrine got the coyote’s heart beating again, and she was able to lift her head. Di Sieno and her assistants carried her out of the reservoir and drove her to a local veterinary hospital. The condition of the coyote improved after she was given fluids and vitamins.
Photo credit: YouTube
Much to the surprise of Animal Rescue Team staff, about a month after she was rescued, the coyote – now named Angel — gave birth to four male pups
“What this animal endured is beyond comprehension,” Di Sieno told the L.A. Times. “When she had puppies, I didn’t know whether to cry in sadness or for joy.” She called Angel “a courageous girl and most exceptional mother.”
When they’re old enough, the pups will be released into the wild, but not with their mom. Although Di Sieno told the L.A. Times it wouldn’t be easy to convince the California Department of Fish and Wildlife not to euthanize Angel, she was successful in doing so.
Angel will live the rest of her life in a wildlife sanctuary, where the rescued coyote may pay it forward by helping save the lives of other coyotes in trouble.
“I want Angel to become a member of the rescue team’s family as an imprintable surrogate mother for young coyotes that come our way,” Di Sieno told the L.A. Times.
Now in her fifties, Di Sieno has been taking care of wildlife ever since her father gave her a raccoon when she was 9 years old.
The nonprofit Animal Rescue Team she co-founded takes care of orphaned, injured and abused wildlife at its facility in Solvang. As the L.A. Times describes the rescue, it “runs on a shoestring budget, volunteer work, prayers and Southern rock rhythms issuing from a small radio on a patio table.”
Learning to Co-Exist With Coyotes[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ccording to the Animal Rescue Team’s Facebook page, in addition to becoming a surrogate mom, Angel may also become a “coyote ambassador” to help raise awareness about these misunderstood creatures.
California really needs one. Because of the drought, as well as new development in areas where they once roamed free, coyotes are increasingly wandering into suburban and urban areas. Where I live in the southwestern Los Angeles suburbs, there have been an unprecedented 50 recorded coyote sightings since January alone.
“In the old days, it was Mother Nature that animals had to deal with,” Di Sieno told the L.A. Times. “Now, it’s us – human beings with their guns, poisons, cars and urban sprawl.”
Coyotes will likely never win an animal popularity contest. They’ve killed small (and sometimes large) pets, and have attacked people. As an ineffective solution for the “coyote problem,” towns like Seal Beach use cruel traps to catch them, and then euthanize them.
But coyotes actually serve a useful purpose.
“Coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem, helping to keep rodent populations under control,” notes the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “They are by nature fearful of humans.”
Instead of killing coyotes, residents need to learn how to safely co-exist with them. This means taking precautions like keeping pets and their food bowls inside at night, and securely closing trash cans. If you see a coyote, making loud noises will usually scare it away.
Hopefully Angel will have the opportunity to enlighten people and change negative attitudes toward these creatures.
“This coyote put up a good fight, and I fought to keep her alive,” Di Sierno told the L.A. Times. “Never underestimate the will to survive.”
To find out more about Angel and how you can help, visit the Animal Rescue Team website.
COMPLEMENTARY PIECE / ORIGINAL IN LOS ANGELES TIMES on p. 2 below