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Video of the Week: Playful coyote practices hunting

Posted by in Wildlife on Friday, January 15, 2016

A video of an Ontario coyote appearing to play fetch by itself with a dog's ball is going viral for its cute factor, but it also offers an interesting insight into the ways coyotes hone their hunting skills.

The video, uploaded last week by user Evnissyen, shows the coyote repeatedly carrying a ball up a small hill, then chasing it as it rolls down. This pet-like behaviour may seem strange for a wild animal, but Frank Ritcey of WildSafeBC told the National Post there are animals that play "just for the joy of it."

A 2007 study of the Eastern Coyote by Jonathan Way found that even adult coyotes frequently engaged in non-aggressive play behaviours such as chasing and wrestling with other members of their pack. It's thought that this type of play helps coyotes practice their hunting and defence tactics in a low-stress situation, navigate the social heirarchy within the pack and simply blow off steam.

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