I almost hesitated to label this post “backyard wildlife” because really, this is not the sort of wildlife one wants in the backyard. But nevertheless, I have seen coyotes trotting through my backyard on more than one occasion. And indeed, coyotes are becoming a regular part of suburban life, acclimating to us more than we are acclimating to them.
I don’t know how long ago it was when I first began hearing packs of them howling in my neighborhood. It was such a foreign sound that I couldn’t even identify it. I’d go outside every evening at dusk to check a manually operated minimum/maximum thermometer I had and to reset it for the following day. And I’d hear this sort of otherworldly sound.
It wasn’t the long, howling wail that I was sort of familiar with from the TV westerns or I would have known what it was. I still can’t quite describe it but it’s definitely different here in the East. It took me several weeks to determine that what I was listening to was in fact a coyote–and it was so long ago that I’m still not sure how or why I determined what it was.
Perhaps around the same time I saw one nearby. I know my neighbors mentioned that they thought they had a den of them on their property. And since that time we regularly see coyotes very nearby, including sometimes in our own backyard.
Eastern coyotes, and New England coyotes in particular, when well fed, can be pretty imposing creatures. It is thought that they bred with wolves from Canada on their migration from the west. So they are fairly imposing. This fact sheet from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has more details.
Luckily the few times I have seen them when I’ve been out with a dog or dogs, my dogs have been utterly oblivious. And the coyote seemed to have other things on its mind as well, thankfully. Every time I’ve encountered one, it just trotted across my path, head down, focused on whatever it was after.
I usually just stopped walking with the dog and stood completely still–trying to assess the situation, I guess. Luckily I never had to do anything more than that.
The coyote passed and then the dog and I would continue on our way. The whole encounter, for lack of a better word, never took more than a few seconds. But it always seemed like so much more.