Many plot points in Lost Shadow are based on real coyote research! Find out some of the interesting facts here:. (there are no big spoilers)
- Homing instincts are real. When Pica is trying to figure out how to get home, her gut feeling about direction is real! Many animals have incredible homing skills, or the ability to return home after being displaced from it. Some well-known examples are birds and fish, but homing skills have also been documented in larger animals such as deer, bear, and coyotes. One review by the US Forest Service in Minnesota listed a study where a deer travelled 560 kilometres to make its way home!
- Coyotes and badgers do actually hunt together. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, coyotes and badgers are known to team up and hunt together, just like Scruff and Bodi. The coyote can chase down prey if it runs, and the badger is an excellent digger if the prey heads underground. In 2020, a video taken in San Francisco showed a coyote and a badger travelling together under a highway in the middle of the night.
- There’s no evidence of a coyote ever having been transported by a delivery truck, but they have been seen on other modes of transportation. One high profile story in National Geographic featured a coyote who, in 2002, hopped on the light rail from the airport in Portland and got comfortable on a seat.
- Leg-hold traps are real, and they are still legal in almost every province of Canada and state of the United States. These traps are extremely traumatic and painful for the animals, who mostly die from hypothermia, thirst, or blood loss. Some animals resort to chewing off their own trapped limbs in the process of trying to escape. Many groups oppose leg traps, including the Sierra Club, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the National Animal Control Association.
- Coyotes strongly prefer eating rodents and plants to human garbage. Many researchers, including Stan Gehrt (2007) and Lukasik and Alexander (2012) have pointed out that human sources of food typically only make up about 5 to 15 percent of coyote diets. However, when humans make food available to coyotes, even in an effort to help, it inevitably hurts the coyotes. Coyotes fed by humans are much more likely to become lazy and to associate food with humans. They will gravitate to where the food is, putting them in conflict with other humans. Often, such coyotes are deemed a “problem” and have to be killed.
- Coyotes help each other when they are injured. Several coyotes in this story need help from other coyotes, either for food or to fend off potential hazards. This type of altruistic behaviour has been observed by Janet Kessler in San Francisco in her blog, Coyote Yipps. For example, one coyote led dogs away from her injured mate, risking her own safety to make sure that he could continue to rest.