Denver: Coyote Country, USA

21 10 2009

Sunday night I came home from dinner at my parents’ house to find two coyotes hanging out on the street corner.  The street corner that is about 100 yards from my front door.  The street corner that has two streets running by it (hence the term street corner, right?).  I had to do a double-take to make sure I had seen them correctly.

Upon my second look, yes, they were indeed coyotes.  Yes, two of them.  Oh my gosh, much bigger than any other ones I’ve seen.  They are obviously well fed.  I hope they have been dining on rabbits and squirrels and not canines and felines. (Sorry Thumper and Rocky, but you live in the wild and are therefore at risk of coyote consumption.  Domesticated, suburban animals should not be subjected to such risks.)  Oh boy, just look at the surreptitious looks on their faces.

Yes, these are the thoughts that ran through my mind as I drove past the two brutes smoking cigarettes and cackling on MY street corner.  Ok, so they weren’t cackling and smoking cigarettes.  But they may as well have been for how comfortable they looked in the neighborhood.  With people driving by.  In cars.  On the street.   Under a bright street lamp.  Enough exaggerated fragment sentences but I just can’t get over how utterly right at home, and not scared in the least, they looked standing there on the sidewalk.

For illustration purposes only. Do you really think I would whip out my camera to commemorate those hoodlums' presence in my hood? (Ok, I would have if I could have done it safely but no dice.)

For illustration purposes only. Do you really think I would whip out my camera to commemorate those hoodlums' presence in my hood? (Ok, I would have if I could have done it safely but no dice.)

Metro Denver has had a coyote problem over the last year or so.  I have seen a few scampering about in the night time but had never seen any up close and personal like the cigarette smokers.  Plus, my previous coyote sightings were of skinny, mangy guys that looked like they were trotting out of harm’s and human way while these two lugs looked like they were waiting for the cocktail waitress to bring their Amstel Lights.

All joking aside, let’s review the best practices for staying safe while coyotes are afoot.  Afoot, get it? (Numbers 2, 5, and 6 taken from the Colorado Division of Wildlife.)

  1. Always stay alert.  Keep your iPod to a level where you can hear what’s going on around you and not Katy Parry’s “Waking Up in Vegas” whatever you’re rocking out to.  Nix the cell phone in favor of your own thoughts.  Keep those eyes scanning for anything suspicious.
  2. Keep your dog leashed and close at hand (coyote country is not a time to be pulling in your 50 foot retractable leash, trying to reel in Fido).
  3. Avoid walking or running early in the morning or late at night, when most animals prefer to hunt.  Also, avoid walking when it’s dark (which happens to be early in the morning and late at night).
  4. Assume that any coyote(s) you encounter are dangerous and treat them as such.
  5. Do not approach the coyote.  Avoid, avoid, avoid!
  6. If necessary, attempt to scare it off by yelling, clapping, or even throwing something at it.
  7. Carry a can of pepper spray that attaches to your belt so you can have it handy if the coyote gets too close for comfort.  Buy one like this and keep it with you on walks.

So in my neck of the woods the coyotes have won this battle with their street corner scare tactics but I will win the war.  Hamlet will remain safe and sound and those coyotes will hopefully lose their smug, smiley grins and hightail it for the high country.

Note: No coyotes were harmed in the writing of this post.  Normally I do not hold anything against coyotes.  However, they are highly adaptable animals that have been known to thrive rather than dwindle when forced from their original habitats.  They are happy, regardless of suburban street corner or high country meadow, as long as they have food and shelter.  These factors and their getting accustomed to people and the city life make them even more dangerous so be aware.

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