Sightings Not So Rare
Nowadays, you do not need to be a seasoned hiker or a mountain biker roaming our county parks or riding on isolated trails to be able to catch a sight of a coyote. They are much closer than you think! Recent accounts mention their presence in the heart of San Francisco on Bernal Heights Hill and even in the Golden Gate Park. This means that they had to cross entire blocks of buildings and streets to get there!
A Fascinating Movie
Melissa Peabody's movie Still Wild at Heart (you can find it at the library in the non-fiction DVD section under 599.77 or in the feature films section under SAN) relates their struggle to survive in this new environment and analyzes their relationships with city dwellers. She also interviews several biologists and researchers, in particular Camilla Fox. Camilla Fox is the founder and executive director of Project Coyote, a non-profit organization which promotes the education of the public for a safe coexistence with coyotes.
Foes or Friends?
Encounters either show a certain attraction (people will try to take pictures or feed the coyotes) or an unsettling fear of aggression. The truth is coyotes have been responsible for attacking domestic animals especially during summer when they are rising their pups and need an increase in their food intake.But those domestic animals were often wandering around without their owner or were not on a leash; dog or cat food left in front of the house may also explain the attacks.
Katie Marsico in her book Coyotes : How Do We Live Together and Stefen DeStefano in his essay "Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia" tackle this dilemma.
A Story of a Questionable Friendship
Coyotes have learned to live in the cities because their wild territories are shrinking.They are highly adaptable and social animals ( very vocal too!) Could they even be domesticated? A heartwrenching true story by Shreve Stockton( the book or MP3 are available at the library under 636.977 STO) narrates her adoption of a ten days old coyote pup and all her ensuing joys and . . . problems!
This essay reflects perfectly the contemporary predicament of the coyote: is he a welcome wildlife or a perilous menace to our vicinity?
Reading and learning about America's native, secretive "song dog" may give us answers and perhaps solve some of the human-coyote conflicts in our surroundings and over our territories.
Photo credit: Jeremy Vandel
Jocelyne C, an extra-help library assistant, lives in Woodside, where she sometimes crosses the path of coyotes while hiking.