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Coyote drives off Mountain Lion

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Published on Jul 15, 2012

At 7 a.m. on July 15, 2012, this male coyote (Canis latrans) was recorded driving off a 100-pound, 18-month old, sub-adult male mountain lion (Puma concolor) in Orange County, California. This video was taken on the Serrano Road trail of Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park just south of the Dreaded Hill Road trail. Before we arrived at this scene, we could hear the coyote's non-stop calling from a mile away at the other end of the park.

The coyote's voice seems to be telling the mountain lion to "get out of here," while generally drawing attention to this location. The coyote's body language (tail between his legs and turning ready to run) tells the mountain lion that he doesn't want to fight. The mountain lion doesn't seem to want to fight either as he seems to casually walk out of that area without making direct eye contact with the coyote (or me and my wife). After the mountain lion crossed the trail and was no longer visible, the coyote continued calling in the direction the mountain lion went, but then the coyote turned around and called out (with a different call) in all directions broadcasting his alarm.

As we just left this area and continued our hike on the Serrano Cow Trail, we encountered an alert mule deer doe standing out in the open and facing the densely vegetated creek-bed area. That deer had her ears and attention focused in the direction the mountain lion went, and the deer was defiantly stamping her front feet. As an ambush predator, the mountain lion had lost the element of surprise with this deer, possibly because of the coyote's broadcasts.

The park was closed because of this video and other sightings, and a live trap was set near the Serrano Cow Trail for the mountain lion because of his unusual behavior. The mountain lion was captured in the early hours of July 17, 2012, checked over by a veterinarian, taken to the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound in Rosamond, and will eventually be at another sanctuary or a zoo.

It is unusual to see a coyote out like this, rare to see a mountain lion at all, and extraordinary to witness them interacting in the wild.

UPDATE: While we were walking along Santiago Canyon Road next to this park on Sunday, August, 4, 2013, at about 6:30 a.m., we heard and recorded several excited coyotes making the same calls as loudly as they could. The horses at the nearby stables were also excited and calling out. Since we had also recently seen mountain lion tracks in the park, it seems quite possible that a mountain lion was present and the coyotes were responding similarly to this July 15, 2013 video encounter.

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