Coyotes in Maine are often vilified for their behavior as wild animals.

Coyotes are predators and sometimes kill white-tailed deer, turkeys and other critters for food.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to have a little fun.

Today’s video, which comes to us courtesy of Brian Chisholm, provides a much different view of what coyotes are doing when we aren’t looking.

Chisholm went out behind his house last Friday and noticed that five of the six toys belonging to his dog, Sancho Panza, seemed to be missing. While  searching around, he noticed that the dog’s orange soccer ball was visible in the middle of the adjacent field.

“When I went out, we found all his toys within like a 10-foot perimeter of each other,” said Chisholm, who had a theory about what was happening.

“Actually, I figured it was a fox that came and took it,” he said. “I live in a nice, rural area, so it wasn’t like somebody came by with their dog and their dog grabbed the toys.”

Determined to find out how the items were being moved, Chisholm set a trap. He retrieved the toys and placed them in front of his generator, then set up his game camera overlooking the scene.

He was surprised with what he saw when he checked the footage.

“It was a nice, big coyote,” Chisholm said.

Acting in much the same fashion as a domesticated dog, the coyote picks up and starts carrying off a rubber Kong toy. After dropping it, the ’yote snatches it back off the ground and leaps, tossing it into the air.

It sniffs the Kong, before heading back in the direction of the other toys.

Shevenell Webb, furbearer biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said the coyote likely was attracted to the toys because of how they smell.

“Like dogs, coyotes and foxes are incredibly curious and can appear ‘playful’ at times, especially with novel objects,” she said. “The Kong probably had a fair amount of scent (rubber, dog slobber and treats), which sparked the coyote’s interest to investigate further during his nightly stroll.”

Webb said such behavior is more often seen among pups, but that even the adults sometimes participate.

“And, like people, every individual animal has a unique personality,” she said, stressing that it is important for Mainers to see another side of coyotes.

“Coyotes don’t just eat deer, they are a pretty cool predator that have a lot in common with man’s best friend.”

Our appreciation to Brian for sharing his neat video!

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Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...