Feb 1, 2012

Coyote at the Kitchen Door: A little snippet

Stephen DeStefano's Coyote at the Kitchen Door is a good, quick read. (Must admit that I skimmed much of the environmental theory, since it was stuff I already agreed with.) A few more of his stories of encounters with animals as a wildlife biologist would have been enjoyable. He gets up to some good writing here, about my sweet Coyote:

"She has been called "ky-ote" and "ky-o-tee"--coyotl, cayeutes, cojote, and Canis latrans. Some have referred to her as song dog or prairie tenor, burrowing dog, brush wolf, prairie wolf, cased wolf, or barking wolf. A ghost of the plains of a century past, a ghost of our cities in more modern times.

She has been accused of being a varmint, a scourge, a pest, and a weed, and she has been praised as an icon of the American West, elevated to a key role as a top carnivore in the balance of nature, and deified as God's dog.

She is a dedicated mother and an excellent hunter, a long-distance traveler and a tireless scavenger. She is a carnivore and an omnivore and a vegetarian, depending on circumstances and opportunities. She is recognized by her track and scat, her voice and her scent. She is know for her cunning, her slyness, and her ability to survive and persist and move and spread. She has taken up residence in virtually every ecological community and human environment on the continent and has eaten everything humankind and nature have to offer. She is among the most adaptable of species.

She has befriended badgers and mated with dogs and wolves. She is strangely familiar and altogether foreign. She has survived decades of cyanide, strychnine, and 1080; .222s and .308s and 30-aught-6s; steel-jawed traps and wire snare; barbed-wire fences and speeding vehicles; bad press, half-truths, and outright lies.

She has found her way into the stories and songs and poetry and legends of all who have ever shared this land with her. We have used her name and image for our business and sports team logos while we have hung her carcass on our fences and tacked her hide to our sheds. We have worn her fur and put a bounty on her body and shared some of our most memorable evenings with her serenades and songs. We praise her, idolize her, and fear her and hate her, sometimes all in the same breath, and as such she has become an analogy for our relationship with all of nature. We have lived with her for our entire existence in North America, and if we were to lose her altogether, we would forever be missing a piece of what it is to be American.

But there is little chance of that, because she is a coyote and she knows how to get by."
(p. 147)

Oh yeah, that gets at it. The coyote sighted in an Erie, PA cemetery got her own Facebook page. We love seeing Wile E. outsmarted by Road Runner. Our feelings for Madame Coyote are complex, and so they lead to great stories. Come on in to the East Coast, Coyote! Just don't eat my kitty-cats.


  1. Through tears, I agree with every word! I'll admit that I wanted to see the coyotes at the end of my shifts when they were hunted round the farms. Though, wishing it, I feared it, too. She is a cunning little lovely. *^_^* (And, hey! They mentioned Badger, too!)

  2. we're running out of room for the wild..there is less food for them and then turn to what is left..Human's live stock..sad.