Friday, April 8, 2011

A Trickster In Our Midst

In happens once in a while--I see a fleeting shadow trotting across the road as I am entering Fort Worden State Park, on the way to my office on the pier. Sometimes, the coyote stops and looks at me, seemingly sizing me up for moment before it turns and resumes its easy trot. 

Coyote close up.  Photo by Christopher Bruno

Coyotes are wild, dog relatives with the ability to slyly adapt to just about any situation--earning them the nickname "trickster" in Native American myths. Aside from the south eastern United States and northern Canada, coyotes can be found almost anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere (including downtown urban environments). True opportunists, their diet consists of fruit, rodents and carrion. I'm also willing to bet they regularly find tasty morsels on the beach at low tide.

A coyote on the beach at Fort Worden State Park. Photo by Andrew Reding

Coyotes are so adaptable that some people consider them to be pests. True to their opportunistic nature, they have been known to prey on chickens and house cats. They are also adept at scrounging through unsecured garbage or uncovered compost piles.

In our area, coyote pups are born in early April through May.  During this time, coyotes are protective of their young and den sites which can result in bold or aggressive behavior, especially towards dogs. You can help prevent unpleasant coyote encounters by walking your dog on a leash, not feeding wildlife, feeding dogs and cats indoors, and keeping dogs and cats indoors from dusk to dawn.

I, for one, am happy to live and work in a community that can support wild animals. Follow the links below to learn more about these amazing animals and how to humans and coyotes can successfully co-exist.

Chrissy McLean, 
PTMSC Marine Program Coordinator

Native American Trickster Tales
Living With Wildlife--Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
 The Burke Museum


  1. So glad to see you support wildlife and us living in harmony :)



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