Coyote encounter with deer witnessed outside Digby County home

Published on March 14, 2014

By Jonathan Riley



A Little River, Digby County, couple had front row seats for what looked like an episode of Animal Planet.

Rita Denton had just stood up from quilting, about 3 p.m. on Friday, March 7, when something caught her eye.

Outside the big bay window in the front of her house, she saw a deer jumping in the air and what she thought was a dog.

“I thought, now whose dog is chasing deer?” she asked. “And then I realized it wasn’t a dog. It was a coyote.”

Denton called her husband Dale in from the next room and he thought she was joking.

But it was happening – just 40 feet away from the house.

The Dentons watched for five to 10 minutes as the coyote lunged at the deer and then the deer jumped back at the coyote.

“Back and forth, back and forth, she (the deer) would jump at him and he would run off,” says Denton. “I think what she was trying to do was jump on him. She was really giving it back to him; she wasn’t giving up.”

Denton said she was very concerned about the doe – she said she had seen a mother and fawn often on the lawn before this incident and assumes this was the same doe.

“I knew she was really getting tired,” said Denton. “Her tongue was hanging out the side of her mouth and you could see her chest heaving.”

Dale went out on the lawn and yelled at the coyote and it retreated a little ways into the woods but not far.

The coyote had no fur on about a foot of its tail, a classic symptom of mange, which is a mite infection under the animals fur.

Mange doesn’t necessarily make the animal act strangely but does put the animal under stress, especially in the cold.

Dale went to leave to bring someone to the house with a firearm but his truck scared off the deer and the coyote.

A friend who traps coyotes spent four hours in behind the Denton property and saw lots of fur where the coyote or coyotes have been eating a lot of rabbit – but otherwise no sign of either animal.

The Dentons haven’t seen the doe and fawn since, although their son, who lives just up the road, has a few extra deer on his lawn these days.

Rita said she regularly hears coyotes howling in back of their property.

Bob Petrie, director of the Wildlife Branch with the Department of Natural Resources says he doesn’t see anything unusual in this predator—prey interaction.

“Coyotes are on the look out for a food source like any other animal,” he said by phone. “This one happened to occur in range of a camera which makes for some very interesting photos, but I expect this is something that is happening every day in the woods.”

He also didn’t find it unusual that it would happen so near a house.

“Once a coyote finds a deer or possible food source, it will pursue it where ever it goes,” he said.

Petrie says the coyote exhibited normal coyote behaviour when it retreated from Dale.

“Where we would be concerned was when a coyote exhibits signs of habituation, or lacking fear of people,” he said.

The Department of Natural Resources has a webpage with more information on coyotes and how to keep them wild and out of your neighbourhood:


(EDITOR’S NOTE: Jonathan Riley is a reporter with our sister newspaper the Digby County Courier, based in Digby.)