Coyote With 'Worst Case' Of Mange Makes Incredible Transformation
“Literally, when we were looking for him, he looked like a stone or a piece of cement. We had to go up to rocks and poke them to make sure it wasn’t him.”
When the staffers at Wildlife Care of SoCal first saw a picture of the coyote they were supposed to help, they could barely tell what they were looking at. His body was so covered in mange that he looked like a stone.
“Literally, when we were looking for him, he looked like a stone or a piece of cement,” Anna Reams, director of Wildlife Care of SoCal, told The Dodo. “We had to go up to rocks and poke them to make sure it wasn’t him.”
Earlier this year, Reams had started getting phone calls from members of the public who’d spotted this coyote around Whittier, California — but Reams knew that catching him was going to be tricky.
“Coyotes are extremely difficult to catch,” Reams said. “There’s no trapping them, because they’ll avoid the traps. There’s no quick fix to this.”
After a couple tries, Reams finally had a breakthrough in late May. The coyote, now known as Ser Jorah after the “Game of Thrones” character, had started hanging out at a local dog park, and Reams and her team managed to sneak up on him while he was sleeping and catch him in a net.
“After we had him netted, he just dove into the bushes and went limp,” Reams said. “He basically gave up.”
The team drove Ser Jorah to Wildlife Care of SoCal’s rehabilitation center, and started treating him with medication. They hoped for the best.
Unfortunately, mange is a huge problem for wild coyotes in California, and rescuers are often called in to help animals like Ser Jorah. Reams believes this kind of mange is caused by a poison called rodenticide — when coyotes eat rodents who are affected by this, they become poisoned themselves. And when animals’ immune systems are low, they’re particularly susceptible to mange.
“There have been studies that link rodenticide poison to mange, but that’s [only] been done in bobcats,” Reams said. “With coyotes with mange, there’s no specific study that’s been done, but it basically comes down to a diminished immune system, which could be caused by eating poisoned rodents.”
“I believe they [coyotes] are sentinels of the environment,” Reams added. “They’re showing us that there’s something going on here, and it’s not good.”
Reams said that Ser Jorah had the “worst case” of mange she’d seen, but he also recovered the quickest. In fact, she started seeing improvement within one week.
And after eight weeks in rehabilitation, Ser Jorah was ready to be released back into the wild.
“The city of Whittier was very helpful,” Reams said. “We found a spot just outside of the city, which is actually a designated natural habitat for wildlife in the city of Whittier ... and we released him there. He just ran out and went.”
Reams hopes that Ser Jorah will remain healthy and strong, although there’s always a chance he’ll get mange again if the root of the problem isn’t solved. The best way to prevent coyotes like Ser Jorah from getting mange is to stop using rodenticide, Reams explained.
“Pest companies will tell you that it doesn’t secondarily kill, and that’s just because they’re not informed,” Reams said. “It does kill.”
Another way to help protect coyotes is to avoid feeding them, Reams said.
“They can survive just fine with what they can find in the wild, but artificial sources of food like cat food is just not good for their health,” Reams said. “So basically just not to feed the wildlife, but also not to use poison.”