A moving discovery: Fatally injured coyote cared for by his pack

The animal protection group Predator Defense has set out to protect endangered wildlife in Oregon. As it is today, humans have some huge advantages over predator animals in the wild. A lot of people strongly dislike animals like coyotes. When the creatures get caught in brutal traps people set, they experience a kind of torture that the organization's leader, Brooks Fahy, and his team see often. However often they encounter these animals in dire straits, it never gets easier.

One cold, winter day, Brooks found a particularly nasty situation in the woods that left him speechless.

After Brooks received an anonymous call about a coyote in need, he headed out into the forest. He soon found what he was looking for: a young coyote had gotten caught in a spring trap. He was lying in a pool of his own blood, his leg badly injured.

He appeared to have been in this painful situation for awhile — not unusual, sadly. These animals often have to spend many days stuck in traps like this one before they "finally" die. When Brooks approached, the coyote's gaze sank as if he accepted his dismal fate.

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Brooks then noticed that there were several little puddles next to the coyote, from which he'd been drinking. There was a gnawed-off branch nearby that the poor animal had been chewing on, perhaps to manage the pain.

But what he saw now really took him by surprise: beside the stranded creature there were a number of little bones along with traces of other coyotes. Apparently other members of the pack had been bringing him food so that he wouldn't starve! Brooks was moved just recalling it: "It's gut-wrenching. It haunts me to this day."

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Working patiently and carefully to free the coyote, he got a good look at the extent of the animal's injuries. He looked like he was about three or four years old and seemed healthy — up to his paw, which was destroyed. A bone protruded from the fur. When he managed to bring the mutilated coyote into their headquarters, he and the vet could see that there wasn't anything they could do for him.

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At this point the paw was almost separated from the leg. They could only guess how much pain the coyote was in. They finally decided that the only way to help the animal was to release him from hopeless situation. He was totally feeble now, so as they caressed him gently, and with tears in their eyes, they put him to sleep. 

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This happened all the way back in 1992, but Brooks remembers it like it was yesterday. Stories like what happened to that coyote have been driving him ever since. He tells the whole story here on video:

Today coyotes and lots of other animals — including family dogs! — still get caught all the time in traps like these and often die agonizing, unnecessary deaths. Brooks explained: "Traps are notoriously nonselective... any animal that comes along could get caught. I've been doing this work for 40 years and I never cease to be amazed that this is still going on. 

We know through science that these species are self-regulating. It's time we evolve as a society and stop thinking of animals as natural resources. It's important for us to empathize with these animals, to feel the loneliness of an animal caught in a trap. They feel pain. They suffer. They want to live."

Right now in the U.S. there are bills (this one and this one) going through Congress to stop cruel traps like the one that killed this coyote. If you want to support the effort to protect wildlife, you can call or write your representative, encouraging them to vote the right way. You can also help out the group Predator Defense or get involved in your area.

Whenever Brooks gets discouraged, he thinks back to that coyote whose pack simply wasn't going to abandon him. And he gets back to work with his faith in the world restored! 

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