Coyote comes to town

I am happily returned to Boston. While I dearly miss my friends and family out west, it has been wonderful to settle back into my life here. My days have been filled with naps, delicious food cooked by Matt, and walks filled with snow and one lone, charming coyote, relaxing in an overgrown lot a few blocks away from our house.

I am very familiar with the calls of these animals – their yipping, whooping, siren sounds have kept me awake and rapt through long nights on New England farmlands. However, I’d never actually seen one, and was quite shocked and fascinated when I did. The discovery has led me to consider what a prime habitat this corner of Boston offers – there are wooded lots, sumptuous dumpsters, and a medley of squirrels, rabbits, and small rodents like mice, moles, voles and rats.

Ancient American mythlore portrays Coyote as both creator and fool, and contemporary opinions of the animal are similarly nuanced. Whole websites are devoted to shooting, trapping, and poisoning coyotes, and there are videos of them being killed on Youtube. While they are infamous sheep eaters and are thus considered a threat on many livestock farms, coyotes present few dangers in urban and suburban living, where they may fit nicely into ecological niches as a nontoxic form of rodent control. It is unfortunately true that they will attack roaming cats and small dogs, but this can be avoided by keeping your animals indoors if coyotes are a potential threat. (Side note: the threat posed by coyotes is dwarfed by traffic mortality, which kills 5.4 million cats annually.)

Here in our cat-less Hyde Park household, the knowledge that we are cohabbing with coyotes just makes for a little extra intrigue while walking and a few double takes whenever sirens are heard at night.


Coyote drawing by artist Susan Fox. Tracking sketches from Good Shepherd Farm Alapacas.

6 responses

    • Thank you! Who knows – seeing as you live in the northeast, too, you may have a coyote encounter of your own sooner than later. It’s funny – I grew up in a part of Milwaukee that had coyotes, though in the more than twenty years that I lived there I never saw one. They definitely live up to their crafty reputation!

  1. Lovely post with great illustrations! I too am completely fascinated by urban coyotes. We even have them here in NYC now, you know. Residents in the Bronx and Queens – and every few years, a young coyote finds its way to Manhattan, where I live. In Feb/March 2010, I was fortunate to spot (a few times) a gorgeous coyote that lived in Central Park for about a month. It eventually started wandering out of the park at night, turning up in Chelsea and other locations before finally being captured in Tribeca. It was released at an undisclosed location. Anyway, amazing animals, so adaptable and interesting. I’ve written quite a lot about them on my blog. If you’re interested, you might search two articles in particular: “Coyote Existential: Where Do They Come From and Where Are They Going?” and “Central Park Coyote Dream: Worlds within Worlds.”

    • Thank you! I absolutely loved reading the posts about the coyotes that you have down in New York. It is wonderful to think of the stories they spin for themselves, traveling from the suburbs, to Queens, to Manhattan – definitely dream worthy! I also appreciated the link in “NYC Coyote Existential” to Jonathan Way’s website. The idea that I live not with a coyote but perhaps a coyWOLF is incredibly enticing. It’s amazing to consider how wolves have managed to start reclaiming much of their old habitat by way of the coyote.

  2. I saw my first coyote while half asleep. My boyfriend and kiddo were returning to Jacksonville from Oklahoma City and just before the Texas state line, out shot a coyote into the middle of the highway. I was thrilled, my boyfriend nearly had a heart attack from having to slam on the breaks, but I wouldn’t shut up about it. It was exciting!

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