Aspen, CO Colorado
What a week to be a coyote.
The sun has come out with greater regularity, the moon has hung ever so brightly, and the first day of spring has officially sprung. Oh, there will be more cold weather and snow, but if you are a coyote, this is sunning season, hunting season and mating season. All at the same time. It doesn’t get much better for Canis latrans (barking dog), as they are known in the world of science.
In my neighborhood we see more of the coyotes than we do our neighbors. This year, perhaps because of the heavy snowfall, they have been around most every day. They don’t always show themselves as they go about their rounds, but we hear them nightly as they howl and yip and see their tracks in the freshly fallen snow each morning. Lately they have taken to lying on the sides of snow-covered hills, taking in the sunshine as it rises in the mornings.
Of course I am concerned about our dog, an 80-pound black lab who has an obsession with the movements and the callings of our community pack. And we have taken to keeping him reined in the past couple of months. But other than the possible confrontations between the lab and the pack, I enjoy having the coyotes around and admire their ability to persevere in what have been extreme weather conditions this winter.
Where do they go when the wind howls so loud it obliterates the sound of their call? Where do they sleep when the temperatures drop into the nether range below zero? What do they eat when everything else has taken refugee underground for the winter season?
If I were able to pose these questions to the alpha-dog (by yipping and howling of course) he no doubt would look at me as if I were crazy and dismiss me as some sort of domesticated moron dog. After all that is what coyotes do. They survive.
Over the years they have grown in numbers despite the creeping population of humans into their neck of the woods. On the scale of conservation status that ranges from “extinct” to “least concern,” they don’t even rate. There is nobody concerned about the possibility of coyotes going out of circulation. They may be the final survivors of any global calamity. Take that, Will Smith.
But what I most like about coyotes is that they are the ultimate lone wolves (no pun intended). Sure they convene in family units for mating and survival, but they hunt and cruise the outback unbowed and unafraid of just about anything ” even Angry White Men with guns. They are the embodiment of the Westerner, prepared to deal with anything the world presents them.
As we move further into spring, there will be more sightings of the packs of coyotes in our more urban environments. Cats and perhaps even small dogs will become victims of hungry predators. For that I am sorry. But I can’t help wishing “Godspeed” to the roving dogs who call these hills home.
I hope they have a good spring.