TRURO - Finding a partly devoured deer carcass just off one of the trails in Victoria Park last week was not exactly what John Deagle expected to see during a recent hike.
Deagle and his brother Bobby were walking his dog last Saturday on one of the park trails when the dog suddenly became interested in what was obviously a strong scent.
"He was sniffing around and we said there must be a dead body or carcass or something. Just looked over (to the right of the trail) and there it was."
Although Deagle doesn't know for certain what killed the deer, his first thought was that it must have been a coyote. That suspicion was heightened, he said, when his brother heard yelping nearby that he believes came from a coyote.
And that prompted him to contact the Truro Daily News as a way to issue a warning to other park users.
"I think people better be careful when they walk through the woods," he said, after making a return visit. "I think there's coyotes in the area. Just be on your guard, that's what I would say. It doesn't scare me, it just reminds me that nature can be very dangerous at times ... You just got to beware, you just got to be cautious."
Jim MacNaughton, acting area supervisor for Colchester Hants with the Department of Natural Resources, said while there is no way of knowing for sure what caused the death of the deer, he did agree that is was possibly killed by a coyote.
"It could be a number of things," he said. "Yes, it could be coyotes. They're here. It could be someone's dogs running at large (which is a violation) and there's always the possibility it could be a sick animal."
But the chances of it being a coyote or a dog kill do seem greater, MacNaughton said, when informed of the way the carcass had been devoured.
"That would lead me to believe that it was canine involved, which could be either domestic pets or coyotes."
And while he did not want to appear alarmist, MacNaughton said there is no getting away from the fact that coyotes do exist in the wilderness that surrounds us.
"I think we've come to realize that coyotes are here and that's what coyotes do."
Anyone who would like to learn more about coyotes are encouraged to check out the DNR website at: .
What to do if an aggressive coyote approaches
Use the ‘BAM' approach - Back away, Appear large, Make noise
How do tell a coyote from a fox
Coyotes typically have a tawny, grey or black coat with long black guard hairs. The hair on the muzzle, throat, legs and belly usually ranges from yellowish to white.
Foxes are smaller and typically about 46 cm (18 in.) at the shoulder. A fox is often recognized by its red coat, although they can be grey or tawny as well. Foxes have a white chest patch. The foot and leg hair is dark, giving a sooty look.
Are coyotes sightings more common in winter?
Yes, late winter is the breeding season and their activity increases. If natural food sources are unavailable, coyotes may become more active in search of food. Snow and the lack of leaf cover also make coyotes more visible, while heavy snow may encourage travel on or near roads.
Coyotes facts courtesy of the DNR website.