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The most friendless of God’s creatures

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The most friendless of God’s creatures

By Diana Storen
March 2012

I’ve been called sneaky, dangerous, even vicious. And it makes me sad, because I’m none of these things. You humans can use words like that when you talk about yourselves, but they don’t apply to me. Unlike you, I lack the ability to control my emotions; I act mostly on instinct. I’m not trying to be mean or menacing; and I don’t deliberately set out to upset or anger you; I’m just being me.

coyote
Image by Jim Robertson, Animals in the Wild

You see, I’m a coyote, what Mark Twain refers to as “a living, breathing allegory of Want….always hungry.” And he’s right. I need to eat in order to survive, and natural urges drive me to find food. You often set the table so nicely and tempt me with such a delicious menu that I can’t resist.

My diet can consist of almost anything, although I personally prefer to hunt mice and rabbits. But you have made it so easy to find good stuff that sometimes I don’t have to work for my supper at all. When your unsupervised cat or dog is allowed to roam in the yard – even if it is fenced – you might as well attach a note to its collar saying “Eat me!”

When pet bowls are left outside; when garbage is put into a bin without a tightly fitting lid; or when used barbecue grills are not cleaned, you should just put up a sign that reads: “Dine here!”

By leaving brush and weeds near your houses and by not closing off spaces under your decks or porches, you are providing me with shelter for my mate and pups, and an ideal spot to search for prey.

If you don’t keep your livestock in a barn, or leave them alone in the fields, I can’t promise anything. But if you put a donkey in with them, they’ll be safe. I’d never mess with a big dude like that.

I’m wary, but I’m also resourceful, and since the sights and sounds of people don’t bother me much any more, I know that if I cautiously follow my sensitive nose I’ll end up with some delectable goodies.

coyote
Image by Jim Robertson, Animals in the Wild

Some folks feed me on purpose. They think they are helping me, but it’s a bad idea. If I get used to being fed by you, I may decide to go to someone else, thinking that this person will also be kind. Maybe I’ll approach too closely, expecting a handout. There could be serious consequences… for both of us.

By the way, although I’m the one that you demonize, there are plenty of times when the blame should go instead to the great horned owl. We compete for the same small animals, and since he’s pretty quick, he often beats me to a meal. But I take the rap.

Some farmers actually appreciate me because I consume pests and clean up carrion. I enjoy the eggs laid by those hissing poop machines called Canada geese. It’s all part of Mother Nature’s plan to control populations, but we don’t get any thanks.

But hey, don’t take just my word for any of this. There are lots of places on your Internet explaining how humans can co-exist with coyotes. And there’s a great guy, Barry,* who believes me. He’s my champion.

We coyotes appeared on Earth long before you did; for that reason I think we deserve to get a little respect and understanding. I’d like to be able to say I have more than one friend.


*Barry Kent MacKay, the Canadian Representative for Born Free USA, is a wildlife expert, an author and an accomplished artist.