Sunday, April 3, 2016

Unwanted Spectre on Walk at Nightfall

It had been a tiring week, so I wasn't in a big rush tonight to take the Incredible Walking Dawg, Miss Ellie Mae, on her second jaunt of the day. But you can only put it off so long (and why should I want to, having now lost 15.5 pounds in the three months since rescuing this 7-year-old goofball)?

Anyway, night had fallen when we started out, and yes I know it is best for safety's sake to have at least some light from dusk when trekking.

Just as we got to the woods line separating our neighborhood from a new subdivision under construction, I suddenly felt a cold chill down my spine. Ellie started barking insistently and then growling -- and across the road I saw the object of her agitation: a coyote intensely staring at us, seemingly sizing us up. To back up Ellie's back-off message, I began banging my sassafras walking stick on the pavement.

The coyote did not flee. It showed no fear, and that's not a good sign. However, I suppose it judged that between us, Ellie and I might make a tough meal. So it didn't advance on us. Figuring discretion to be the better part of valor, I turned us around and started the walk home. Along the way I wondered: What if this had not been just a lone coyote, but part of a pack?

Coyotes are virtually everywhere these days. (One even ran through our local airport not long ago.) It is not at all uncommon for them to hang out in suburban areas in search of prey. Ever wonder why you hardly ever see stray cats any more, much less colonies of feral felines? Wonder why no one talks much about deer overpopulation these days? Coyotes are changing the balance of Nature -- and not for the better. Attacks on humans are still uncommon, but they do happen.

Granted, there are other risks with nocturnal walking. You might well be more likely to step on a poisonous snake than to encounter a hungry coyote. However, the coyote threat is out there. There needs to be more consideration by public authorities of what to do to reduce this population of carnivorous predators. Meanwhile, be careful. And be prepared to defend yourself and your loved ones if attacked.

                                      © Robert G. Holland  2016

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