Readers of last week’s column dealing with urban coyotes — specifically a large male coyote who chased a Los Osos woman and her dog from the community’s Elfin Forest — have offered some thoughtful responses.
C. Rose wrote: “I also live on a street that ends in the Elfin Forest, and I’ve been walking there for more than 25 years.
“I’ve repeatedly met that sweet-faced lady and her gloriously beautiful dog. (I didn’t know her name until I saw your column.)
“There’s something she didn’t mention, which is important: that it is an intact male, quite capable of breeding. I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on here — sex, not aggression.
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“Coyotes seem to be fascinated by big dogs, intact or not. People who walk with big dogs seem to see twice as many coyotes as I do, accompanied by my small one. They are always around; we just don’t see them.
“Occasionally one pops up onto the boardwalk where it’s visible, because it wants a better look. A sexy big dog is really interesting!
“A few years ago I was treated to almost daily sightings of a sturdy, studly Rottweiler walking with his person on the boardwalk, being stalked all the way by a big, rangy coyote. It was fun to see her bounding through the brush just off the trail. It was the young man who owned the Rottie that pointed out to me that ‘the girls just can’t leave him alone.’
If a coyote wants to attack something, she (or he) just does it. Slink, pounce, snap! All of us who live close to wild spaces need to keep our small pets inside at night and close at all times because a cat or a tiny dog makes as good a lunch as a bunny does. That’s especially true this year, because there are very few bunnies and a lot of hungry predators. But if a coyote is showing itself to you, I think it’s likely that it has intentions of a very different sort.
“I’ve attached a picture of a coyote taken from the boardwalk just a few days ago, early in the morning. I did some sneaking and searching of my own for the opportunity; the coyote was 30 feet or so off the boardwalk, and my little dog never saw it.”
And that brings us to Juliane McAdam’s encounter of the coyote kind:
“I was most interested this morning in your column about the Los Osos resident who was chased from the Elfin Forest by a coyote. I live on 17th Street two blocks up from the forest, so I walk there frequently.
“Last week I was there around 7 a.m., headed toward Siena’s View (the lower of the two lookouts). As I rounded a bend in the boardwalk, I saw a very large, leggy coyote about 20 feet away. I stood very still for a few seconds, then turned and walked back the way I'd come. I actually checked over my shoulder a few times, but he didn’t follow me. Perhaps it’s because I was alone and didn’t have a big dog with me. The encounter did have my heart racing, though.
“After reading your column this morning, I will probably be a little more cautious.
“A few days before the coyote encounter, I had a more pleasant meeting. As I walked on the boardwalk, I saw an adult quail ahead. I stopped and waited. He figured it was safe, jumped down onto the sand, and walked toward the bushes. Out from under the boardwalk, following him, came four tiny chicks; mother quail brought up the end of the line.
“Gotta love the Elfin Forest!”