Our hometown paper features a colorfully written local crime report that ruffles feathers with its sly characterizations of usually low-level infractions, misdemeanors and the oddball felony. Two days ago, I chuckle through descriptions of leaf-blower violations and exuberant “youths” but almost choke on my Cheerios when I see the first of three reports: Coyote Sightings. They’re baaaaaack.
I guess I shouldn’t have made fun of good ol’ Wile E. last week because I know full well what it means to live with the not-too-distant cousin of the Pekinese. Having spent half my life in the West, I became, let’s say, warily blasé about the coyote. In L.A., you could come across one walking down the middle of the street, a stone’s throw from the most congested intersection in America (that’s why they walk, it’s much faster!) Coyotes were also charming co-residents in places like Arizona—I mean, what’s a desert golf course without their pungent aroma and atmospheric yips and wails?
But if the golf course is on the Other Coast in a town where the biggest animal-related hazard used to be dodging white-tailed deer on the backroads (not a joke, by the way), it looked like Mother Nature had just upped the ante in the suburbanization wars.* Put simply, we were told “they” were moving south into new territory as humans moved north into theirs. Not sure I totally bought this argument (Westchester County has been colonized by ex-city folk for hundreds of years), nonetheless, it was what it was—coyotes were here and they weren’t leaving any time soon. Worst of all, though, was what happened when they first showed up. Two children were hurt in very scary circumstances and there were reports of rabies, already endemic in local wild mammals.** We were all pretty shocked. In all my years of Western living, I had never heard of a person being attacked by a coyote.*** But even though it was strikingly rare, it still scared the heck out of people and for good reason. Thankfully, since those initial incidents, the coyote and the citizens of Lower Westchester seemed to have found equilibrium because other than the occasional Coyote Sighting, I hadn’t heard much.
Then we got the ducks. In the era B.D. (Before Ducks), living close to wildlife meant you sometimes heard of other people losing pets, a sad but not surprising result of residing in a place where you were surrounded by green stuff. Now we realized those same green spaces could be concealing a predator that could eat the raccoon for breakfast and still have room for, say, a few backyard ducks. (Big) gulp! Will my triple fencing hold? What if they show up when we’re out of town ? Or when I run to Whole Foods? Didn’t I say earlier that if a coyote came by the ducks “may be outta luck”? Ok, that sound you just heard like Velcro® ripping…that was my bet that coyotes wouldn’t be an issue. It’s off.
Wonder if I could teach the girls to use a cell phone?
*The more immediate threats for most people are from insects, namely, tick and mosquito. So small and yet so potentially disease-carrying!
**Early warning from our neighbors: If you see a raccoon during the day acting like a drunken sailor, get outta there and call the police.
***Mountain lions, especially those encountered on lonely razorback trails, are a whole different story. There were also rattlesnakes, deadly spiders and multiple natural and unnatural disasters, but I digress.
Copyright 2012, Lori Fontanes