into a slightly “argumentative“ discussion about coyotes at dinner the other night. Since one of the gentlemen I was having this discussion with had supplied the lovely crab appetizer I was consuming at that very moment and the other gentleman in the discussion was my host, I decided it would perhaps be polite or at least politic to drop the subject.
Those of you who know me well might be shocked at this, but then, I am getting older, and perhaps a tad wiser. Instead, I decided to write a blog. Perhaps they won’t read it. In any case, dinner is over.
My new book comes out this fall, as most of you know by now. It’s called Coyote Summer, and the coyotes, if not the good guys, are at least sympathetic and misunderstood. Here are some facts about coyotes most people don’t know:
Coyotes are also called America’s song dogs. They are extremely adaptable, and as we move into their territory with our cities and suburbs, they continue to survive and thrive on our trash and vermin. Coyotes are found in almost every major city in America.
|coyote on Portland's metro system|
It is common for a coyote in winter to take more interest in your canine companion. From the coyote's perspective, the territory is like a singles bar - "I wonder if that German shepherd would make a nice boyfriend? ... Nah, not my type".
A coyote is also a curious animal, so just because it stares at you is no cause for alarm. Chances are excellent, that after curiosity is satiated, the coyote will continue about its business of performing free pest control in your community.
Love is their bond. Coyotes often mate for life and "never divorce" - according to the largest urban coyote study in America.
|project coyote picture|
Coyotes rarely attack humans. Between 1960 and 2006 there were only 159 reported cases of bites across North America. By comparison in 2012 there were 5,000 reported bites by domestic dogs in Cook County, which contains Chicago, alone.
Nonetheless, in 2009 a young woman was killed by coyotes while hiking in Nova Scotia; scientists do not understand why. One suggestion is that the animals found in eastern America are a coyote-wolf hybrid that hunt more frequently in packs and can take down larger prey.
In America’s cities the key to the coyote’s success is its virtual invisibility, and sightings of the animal during the recent mating season were unusual enough to have been the subject of news reports. This is no accident. Those who watch the beasts say that the coyote is more nocturnal when it lives in cities than when it is in the wild, which has undoubtedly helped its quiet conquest of parts of metropolitan America. Most people do not actually know they have coyotes living in their neighborhood, and conflicts only arise when an individual becomes a problem—perhaps having developed a taste for kitchen scraps.
Once known as the “ghosts of the plains” coyotes are increasingly known as the “ghosts of the cities”.
For tons of coyote information go to www.projectcoyote.org