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Song dog sings in the forest

November 26, 2011
By GARRY BRANDENBURG , Times-Republican

Coyotes are common, just not seen very often. Yet they exist right under our noses, in back yards, cities, farms, ranches, deserts, mountain forests, grasslands of the midwest or the tundra of northern Canada. They are adaptable indeed, a success story for this species in comparison to other species of wildlife way less tolerant of humans or human altered landscapes.

Who in Marshalltown has not heard the four pm whistle from the Iowa Veterans Home? Probably everyone can raise their hand to this question. Coyotes hear the whistle too, and respond quite often with a chorus of yelps, howls, yips and barks. From this scribe's many deer hunting adventures over the past two decades, and treks into the heart of the Iowa River Wildlife Area or other river bottom sites, I have heard coyote talk a lot. It can be a bit un-nerving actually to be somewhat close to the coyotes and not know they are so close. But when the serenade of coyote howls reaches its high pitches, other coyotes up and down the valley may respond. On a clear still evening, if one listens closely, your ear will them talking back to each other from many miles distant.

Do coyotes live in Marshalltown? Yes. Do people see them often? No. Is the evidence of their presence within the City and the Iowa River valley clearly documented? Yes. Are coyotes here to stay? Yes.

Article Photos

Today’s photo (made at a taxidermist display conference) illustrates only part of the instinctive predatory nature of the coyote. Called the ‘Song Dog’ by native Americans, the coyote is an adaptable creature that can live and survive in everything from remote wilderness settings to downtown environments such as Chicago or Los Angeles. The coyote has expanded in the wake of human civilization.

While a student at Iowa State University many moons ago, I remember the comment made by my entomology professor regarding animal life on earth ... in the event that a World War III atomic bomb exchange should happen and wipe out all mankind. He said jokingly "after all the dust settles, there will be at least two species still alive ... the cockroach and the coyote." I hope you make the effort to be outside, perhaps in a county park at sunset or sunrise time, and hear the call of the coyote echo along the river valley. Enjoy the sounds of nature.


Across the United States, many DNR programs are available to utilize deer meat for food pantries, food closets, or homeless shelters exist. A study commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation for 2010 tallied the numbers and found that over 11 million meals were provided to the less fortunate through donations of venison by hunters. Nearly 2.8 million pounds of game meat made it way to shelters, food banks and church kitchens.

Hunters take lots of deer but typically only have the need for one or two for personal use. Additional deer do need to be taken from the population in order to help maintain the balance and tolerance level between deer numbers and people. Deer in excess of any personal needs can be donated to charity. Within the USA, midwest hunter donations were largest in the Midwest and the South. Midwest numbers showed 1.3 million pounds of game meat amounting to 46.1 percent of the total donations. Southern deer hunters were close at 45.7 percent. Northeast hunters gave 7.2 percent and West was at 1 percent. Even that one percent represents 108,520 meals.

Iowa has the HUSH program. It stands for Helping Us Stop Hunger, About 90 locker plants in Iowa participate by accepting deer donations. Hunters pay a one dollar fee attached to each deer license to help pay the locker operator for his/her time to process the venison into two pound packages of venison burger. The State Center Locker is just one of those participating locker plants. It is good to have a team player close by to allow hunters to take deer in numbers that deer biologists want removed from the population. Working together for this aspect of wildlife management benefits everybody.


As of this week, Marshall County deer hunters have taken almost 200 deer; 90 doe deer, 85 bucks, 18 button bucks and zero shed antlered bucks. Statewide, total deer taken by youth, archers and early muzzle loader hunters is at the 28,000 level. Tom Litchfield, DNR deer biologist predicts that by the end of all 2011-12 deer seasons, hunters will have reported about 120,700 deer. For 2010-11, the deer count reported was 127,094. And that number is down from the 2009-10 season by about 7 percent. The trend line is clear ... deer numbers are being managed toward management levels in many parts of Iowa.

Deer hunters are a basic and much needed biology management tool for the deer herd.


There are two types of laws that govern ethical sportsman hunters. One is written, the other is not. One is enforced by conservation officers, the other is based on morality. Both types of law apply with equal force to all hunters.

The amount of wild game permitted and able to be taken is limited by formal regulation, as well as by self restraint. For those that break the law, called poaching, which incidentally is most often reported by other hunters, helps keep the 'lid on the can' so to speak, to keep the hunting sports above board, legal and strive to maintain high ethical standards. Ethical hunters despise those that cheat, bend the law or otherwise behave unethically. Report fish and game violations to John Steinbach at 641-751-5246 or by calling the 24 hotline at 1-800-532-2020.

If we as hunters act when alone as though a crowd is watching, we will be stronger. If we cherish each hunting day without regard for its results, we will be happier. If we can calculate our hunting achievements in terms of memories earned, instead of shots fired, our days afield will be richer. Ethical hunters are worthy of our proud hunting traditions.


The Marshall County Conservation Board announces the opening of registration for "Sprucin' Up", an evergreen swag making workshop to be held Dec. 6 from 11:30 am until 1 p.m. at the Conservation Center at the Grimes Farm (2359 233rd St). This event kicks off the winter Brown Bag series. After lunch, Diane Hall will introduce participants to a variety of evergreens such as pines, spruces, firs and cedars in order to correctly identify them. Evergreen swags will be made for the folks to take home. People registering should bring their own gloves, pruning clippers and of course, lunch. Pre- register by Dec. 1 by calling 752=5490.

Do take note of a new display at the Conservation Center on the topic of evergreen trees ... and the benefits of real Christmas Trees.Real trees are available for $25 from the local Izaak Walton League beginning this weekend and each weekend from now through Dec. 18.


Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.



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