Yipping Pups are Music to Coyote Tracker's Ears Jon Way spends most of his night combing the woods and roadsides of New England, tracking coyotes. On a recent evening, he tracked the movements of an animal he's been watching for years. This audio postcard comes from Cape Cod.
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Yipping Pups are Music to Coyote Tracker's Ears

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Yipping Pups are Music to Coyote Tracker's Ears

Yipping Pups are Music to Coyote Tracker's Ears

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Thins time of year, coyote pups are developing into feisty adolescents. So at night, if you're in the right place and you listen closely, you could hear some distinctive coyote howling. It's a sound one man on Cape Cod particularly loves to here.

Christina Russo reports.

(Soundbite of radio caller beep)

CHRISTINA RUSSO: Biologist Jon Way is doing what he's been doing almost every night for the last decade. Using radio callers, he's tracking the eastern coyote. Right now, he's hoping to catch a glimpse of an 8-year-old male named Phil(ph) and his new puppies. We're next to a cranberry bog on Cape Cod.

Mr. JON WAY (Biologist): So we're going to stand, basically, with our backs right, like, in the side of the car there, facing this way. I'm going to have my spotting scope, I'll bring binoculars, just so we have two optics. And we're going to just look for him and wait.

RUSSO: At 35 to 40 pounds, the eastern coyotes are shy, intelligent, social animals. Way is studying their habits in urban and suburban settings, where people and the animals are more and more crossing paths. It hasn't been easy. Of the 40 wild coyotes, Way has trapped, radio collared and released over the years, only five remain, including Phil. The others were killed by hunters, struck by cars or simply disappeared. One coyote family was poisoned.

Mr. WAY: We tracked those animals for a year and because we track them everyday, we literally knew, based on their movements, that they were bleeding to death and we couldn't do anything about it because they were wild animals. They wouldn't let us walk up to them.

RUSSO: Way says coyotes aren't dangerous and they usually try to avoid people. At dusk, three coyotes come into view at the edge of the bog, but Phil isn't with them.

Mr. WAY: They're right there.

RUSSO: Giving it one last shot, Way lunges in to his red Toyota truck and drives to where he knows Phil locks at night.

Mr. WAY: He'll come right down this road, across this tall grass.

RUSSO: Way travels up to 20,000 miles a year tracking the coyotes, paying for gas money out of pocket. He saves by living with his parents. And his goal is to one day set up a coyote research center on Cape Cod.

Mr. WAY: Yeah. I love doing it. Whenever I'm up at 12 in the morning, one in the morning and I'm just super burnt out, the second I see one of them cross with another one, it really makes it all worth it.

RUSSO: It's been a long night and Way has given up on the idea of spotting Phil and the pups. He's just about ready to drive away when…

Mr. WAY: I thought that was a coyote. Yep, roll under the…

RUSSO: And then, for the 32-year-old biologist, the night ends on what one could call a sweet note.

(Soundbite of coyotes yipping)

For NPR News, I'm Christina Russo.

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