Coyote has been sighted in the city. I saw her loping across the tennis courts of the city park about 6:00 am. She seemed as usual, self-assured and focused. Was she heading to someone’s backyard compost? Perhaps she knows where the city chickens live, and she’ll carry one back to her den to feed the pups. On first glance, I thought she was someone’s off-leash shepherd mix, but her bushy tail identified her. According to Bobby Lake-Thom in Spirits of the Earth, “Coyote is one of the most ancient mythic symbols for most Native tribes. He is often portrayed as either the creator or the trickster” (84).
Coyotes are opportunists. They can move quickly and secretively through an urban terrain. In New York City’s Central Park, coyotes omnivore diet includes whatever they can find such as rabbits, mice and garbage. They play with plastic bottles just like dogs play with balls. They hide for cover when humans approach. In our urban culture, there is a reaction of both fear and awe when we hear of coyotes. There are warnings to keep your small pets inside, or coyote will carry them away and eat them. Others find their presence a reminder of our own wild heritage. Hearing the evening chorus is enchanting. In The Animal Dialogues, Craig Childs writes: “Coyote obeys something internal that requires it to sing even when solitary. The singing brings them together. It creates a detailed map of coyotes across the landscape. About a third of all coyotes will be in packs, another third traveling in pairs, and the remaining third going solo “ (37).
Coyote shows her adaptability to changes in her habitat. She has survived a hundred years of U.S. government agencies’ attempts to eradicate her species through hunting, trapping and poisoning. Coyote reminds urban dwellers not to take themselves too seriously. In all our scientific advancement and our warring ways, the coyote is a reminder that control is a ephemeral thing. There are forces stronger than traps, poisons, cages and prisons. The natural laws of the earth, continuity and the life force reveal themselves in diverse ways. Live simply with respect. Live in the present, but not without awareness.
Childs, Craig. The Animal Dialogues, Uncommon Encounters in the Wild. Little Brown and Company, 2007.
Lake-Thom, Bobby. Spirits of the Earth. Penguin Books, 1997.
Urban Hawks website.