A young female coyote has been freed after spending nearly two weeks wandering Placer and El Dorado counties with a plastic jar stuck over its head.
The coyote’s unfortunate situation was first reported near the Coloma Club on Jan. 23, prompting several search parties to trek into the woods over the next few days. The jar appeared to prevent the coyote from eating and possibly drinking, though people reported seeing the animal submerge its entire body – jar and all – underwater on at least one occasion.
Volunteers from Gold Country Wildlife Rescue and Sierra Wildlife Rescue searched for the beleaguered mammal, with some setting traps and one person carrying a net gun on the expeditions. Their coordinated effort eventually led to the coyote’s liberation late Monday morning.
According to Luis Escobar, one of the coyote’s rescuers, a runner spotted the animal near Cherry Acres Road in the El Dorado County town of Cool. The runner called Gold Country Wildlife Rescue as she watched the coyote slink into nearby brush, which then alerted volunteers – including Escobar and his wife, Beverly – to its whereabouts. The Escobars were running with an out-of-town friend in the area.
Escobar slipped knee-deep into a creek across a network of blackberry brambles from the coyote, he said, as a crew of volunteers crept toward the animal on land. He first tried to use a net before grabbing the coyote’s tail and back of the neck, and restrained it until volunteer Ben Nuckolls brought over a crate to carry it to Cool Animal Hospital.
The container compromised the coyote’s breathing, eyesight, hearing and sense of smell, Nuckolls said. It was infested with ticks and fleas, had been sprayed by a skunk and had injuries around its ears, possibly from pawing at the container in a vain attempt to remove it.
Weakened by hunger and thirst, the 15-pound coyote wasn’t in any condition to be chemically sedated, Nuckolls said. That meant he had to strap leather hobbles around its ankles and cut the container off at Cool Animal Hospital while it bit the catch pole draped around its neck.
“She still had some fire in her,” Nuckolls said. “If she hadn’t bit the pole I would have been more concerned, but that was a good sign. It showed she was still wild.”
The coyote received an IV fluid at Gold Country Wildlife Rescue’s Auburn headquarters Monday evening, and drank water on its own Tuesday morning, Nuckolls said.