The winter had been a series of bitter cold days broken only by days filled with falling snow. Even though it was near the end of March, that Sunday afternoon saw a temperature rising only as far as -20°C (-4°F). The sun was bright and cast long shadows across the yard, which was still buried beneath three feet of snow. The warmth of spring time seemed a long time away.
Despite the cold Taz was out in the small enclosure at the back of our house. There he made his rounds, inspecting every inch of the fenced perimeter. We were happy and content to stay in the warm embrace of our home. Suddenly the quiet of the afternoon was broken by Taz barking frantically. The barking only registering in my mind after if continued on for several minutes. “Any bird or squirrel that had caused such ruckus should have fled long ago,” I thought. The urgency of the barking required some investigation on my part.
Approaching the patio door, I observed Taz standing in the middle of the enclosure barking at something at the edge of the forest. I squinted through the dazzling sunlight, which bounced off the snow, trying to see what had disturbed Taz and our peaceful afternoon. I recoiled in shock once my mind had deciphered the movement in the trees. There stood a lone deer, emancipated from the long cold winter. Surrounding the deer in a circle was four or five coyotes. I watched horrified as one coyote would lunge at the deer, who would turn quickly to avoid the attack. As the deer turned another coyote would lunge. Strangely this dance of death was being performed in total silence. The only noise was from Taz, who was still barking.
I love animals, all animals. I know that mother nature is often cruel and I have no disillusions about the coyotes that wander the land around the house. They are carnivores, they hunt other animals. Usually their prey are the smaller animals. The rabbits, squirrels and mice that shared our land. I also know that weakened by a long cold winter, with deep snow that meant food was scarce, deer would often fall prey to a pack of coyotes.
All this knowledge flashed through my mind in an instant. “That may all be true, but not in my backyard and not within my sight” I resolved. I frantically called my husband and implored that we had to stop this. I could not let the coyotes kill this deer. My limited knowledge of coyotes lead me to believe that you could scare them away by making loud noises. My husband agreed that he would go out and try to chase off the coyotes, but I would have to find a way to make as much noise as humanly possible, to help him. As I dug through cupboards to find something to use to make the loudest racked, he quickly dressed in the required boots, parka, and gloves necessary to venture out into the cold. Armed with two large pots, I went into the backyard; armed with a shovel, my husband approached the coyotes. Things had deteriorated in the few minutes we took to get ready. Now one coyote hung by its jaws from the neck of the deer, trying to bring it down. The deer swung around attempting to dislodge the coyote. I banged my pots as hard as I could as my husband approached the coyotes bellowing loudly.
The coyotes melted back into the woods. The deer sank to its knees, then after a moment seemed to recover and it too disappeared into the woods. Miraculously there was no blood on the snow. We silently prayed that meant the deer was alright.
I battle sometimes with our decision to interfere with nature. I think about the pack of coyotes who too were struggling to find food and to survive the harsh winter. However, more often than not, I think we, Taz, my husband and I, did the right thing in saving that deer.