In the the Bugs Bunny and Road Runner Saturday morning cartoons, I always felt slightly sorry for the poor, hapless coyote. No matter what he did, no matter what ludicrous devices he bought from The Acme Corporation, he could never get the best of the Road Runner. The coyote always ends up burnt to a crisp, squashed flat, or at the bottom of a canyon, usually after falling through a rock cliff. He tries everything -- a rocket sled, jet powered roller skates, earthquake pills -- it all works against him. He once bought a dehydrated boulder that inflated and crushed him. Just once I wanted him to be successful, but he never was.
I don't feel sorry for the coyote anymore. Last week an urban coyote got my family's beloved little tortoise shell cat, and the neighbor's cat, both in one night. We have a real problem with urban coyotes here in the Lower Mainland. They're smart, they're not afraid of anything, and they're very wily. They stake out territories, and in the last ten years they have gone from being urban pests -- along with raccoons, skunks and squirrels -- to being a real threat. A few years ago a 12 year-old girl was attacked by a coyote as she was playing near the beach right here in Kitsilano, and few weeks ago a young woman in Nova Scotia was killed by two coyotes as she was out walking in Cape Breton National Park.
Coyotes regard family pets as their own personal smorgasbord, and for some reason they are particularly fond of poodles. They often have dens in sheds and garages, and sometimes underneath porches, without the property owners even knowing the coyotes are there. They're adept at going through people's garbage cans, and in addition to eating family pets, rabbits, rodents and other small wildlife, they will eat vegetation, fruit, carrion and garbage. Urban coyotes are bold, curious, and wild, and it's easy to recognize them. Males are larger and heavier than females, typically weighing 20 to 35 lbs when full-grown, while females are about 18 to 25 lbs. They stand approximately 18 inches high at the shoulders. They're usually a blend of rust-colored to brown to gray. The coyote resembles a small German shepherd dog, but with a longer, narrower snout and a bushy black-tipped tail. And here is something I learned just recently: Coyotes can and do mate with domestic dogs. If you suspect you have a coyote in your neighborhood, keep your pets inside, because the chances are good the coyote will get them.
Where's the Road Runner when we need him? ... Beep ... Beep