Cutting to the chase – we have coyotes in the neighborhood.
Truth be told, these days there are coyotes in most neighborhoods, but this is a new thing for me. I remember as a kid, maybe 15 years old, we heard one deep in the mountains of western Virginia on a backpacking trip – and it was such a rare and unusual thing. Here we are, let’s say 30 years later, and 200 miles further east, and they’re in my backyard.
Coyotes (Canis latrans) are adept opportunists. Like many species (raccoons, certain hawks, etc), they’ve adjusted their lifestyle to not only be tolerant of, but take advantage of human presence. Since the early 1900s, they’ve been spreading both east and west from their home range in the plains and high desert of the central US (places where they would chase roadrunners using plentiful ACME products, for example) to occupy every state in the continental US. Along the way, some northern populations are believed to have crossbred with the eastern grey wolf to form what is arguably a new species, the coywolf, that now dominates the northeastern US and parts of the mid-Atlantic.
Getting to MY house, though, has been a challenge. We live on a fairly large peninsula, with a land bridge to the north, and then bordered by the Chesapeake Bay and a large river, many miles wide. For years, our neighbors across the river to the west heard and saw coyotes. They were becoming common, amassing for an amphibious assault, but there were none here.
Then, two or three years ago, they appeared in the SOUTHERN part of the peninsula – implying they had arrived not via the land route, but had swum, or rafted, across the river. So, we’ve known they were here – I even had a few gallop past a campsite in the middle of the night not too long ago, but they were distinctly “south of here”.
A few months ago, there were reports within the neighborhood that they’d arrived, but I hadn’t seen or heard any, not yet. Then last night, something new. While walking through the neighborhood, I heard the unmistakable serenade of a fairly large group, howling, yelping and singing among the first spring peepers of the season. They’re part of the normal night music now. Unstoppable.
Get Out There