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Coyotes in the city

Meeting my neighbours

By Carolyn Pogue

Revered or reviled, coyotes inspire stories and awe. I’ve read wonderful coyote myths and tales and have often seen them in the distance, but this spring I got up close and personal.

About 50 steps north of our front door, there is a park. It has a name, but I refer to it as the Little Wild Park. Unmanicured, it feeds my soul.

I detour through it when I walk to the post office, mall, library or C-Train station. Sometimes I sit in the tiny woods or on the hill under a giant poplar tree. From the summit (high enough for tobogganing) I can glimpse the Rocky Mountains. It is filled with beauty: wild asparagus, bergamot, Prairie crocus, wild rose, lady slippers, violets and more. The trees are mostly poplar and willow. Underground springs bubble to the surface in three places. I can walk across this little gem in less than five minutes if I want; I prefer sauntering.

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Creative Commons
Magpies, hare and a flock of partridge occupy the park, as well as Northern Flickers, smaller birds and mice. I have been trying to deepen my understanding of this land, this patch of heaven on Earth. It is one of the main reasons I wanted to move here. Living in the Ontario countryside, Yellowknife and Canmore, I had wild spaces around me. But in Calgary, it’s too far to walk to the bird sanctuary, big wild parks or to Banff National Park.

A month ago, I wandered through the Little Wild Park, wondering if the pussy willows had yet appeared, then walked up the hill to see if the Rockies would show themselves. Halfway up, I turned around. A lone coyote emerged from the trees. Unconcerned about me, he ambled along. I watched for a long time; I think I was holding my breath.

Two weeks later, my husband and I were arrested by the sight of him crossing the street ahead of us. The coyote walked purposefully into the little park, zigzagging leisurely back and forth, examining interesting grasses and bushes. We watched for 20 minutes before he was lost to sight. It felt like a blessing.

Coincidently, Swerve, a local magazine, featured an entertaining and informative article about coyotes in the city with hilarious photo-shopped pictures of coyotes riding escalators and the C-Train. The sighting and article have piqued my curiosity.

I’ve sniffed around and learned that speedy (up to 80 km/h) coyotes are independent, but often hunt co-operatively. Like humans, they are omnivorous. Young coyotes will assist parents in guarding and feeding pups. Famous for singing, they do it to communicate, but evidently, sometimes just for the joy of it. Getting up close and personal with this neighbour, known also as moon goddess, trickster, creator, is a joyous entry into spring.

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
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