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March 1933Volume 7, Number 12


By Ralph Redburn, Ranger Naturalist

ONE of the most numerous animals inhabiting the North Rim of Grand Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, is the little Mearns Coyote. Very often during this past summer Canyon visitors were able to see one or more of these animals. Probably the main reason for this, however, was not because the coyote was so common, but because certain individuals of this species had their summer range along the highways in the park.

The coyote of the North Rim region is usually seen in "park" areas which are open plateau meadows in the forest traversed, in many cases, by automobile roads. Ordinarily one would not expect to see this animal in such places since many cars pass through the meadows every day. In these areas, however, the coyote finds grasshoppers upon which to feed. Often last summer as many as four coyotes were seen in the same meadow at the same time. Many times they were standing close to the highway, paying no particular attention to the passing cars, but busily gathering grasshoppers for the day's meal.

On the other hand, not infrequently while traveling along the highways which lead through the forest to the rim of the Canyon, one could see coyotes sitting at the edge of the road. After passing such places many times it became obvious why these animals had so located themselves. They had learned that they need not run after food any more. All that was necessary to obtain a meal was to wait by the highway for a car to run over a squirrel, chipmunk, mouse, or some other creature. Numerous examples of this were seen during the summer, especially of one particular coyote which lived along the highway at the foot of Bright Angel Hill.

Old Rusty, as this coyote was called, apparently lived almost entirely on the animals which were killed by passing automobiles. He would wait beside the road for hours at a time and if a car came past and ran over any of the small mammals which were along the road, Old Rusty would run out and, picking up his find, would carry it to his favorite rock to devour in peace. Many visitors to the North Rim saw Old Rusty sitting on his rocky observatory, either eating or watching for some animal to be killed.

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