Sunday, March 4, 2012
A wild eastern coyote approached the invisible fence barrier with a tennis ball offering:
COME PLAY WITH ME!
All photos courtesy of Charles Dean, Clarkston, Michigan
(Clarkston is a small city in Independence Township, Oakland County, Michigan)
I am a skeptic when it comes to many wildlife tales. many are illusions of reality.
Not this one, for Charles Dean captured detailed images of what some might
call "the beast in the garden" but others view the beautiful intriguing interaction between two
adult coyotes and his domestic 80 pound Saluki (Royal Dog of Egypt) with awe.
The photo (above) made the newspaper and stirred a mix of reactions. One reader wrote me
to say "Coyotes are so smart using the tennis ball to lure the dog into the woods".
I agree on smart. Coyotes are highly intelligent, well adapted to life near humans, and for
better or worse are learning our ways faster than we learn theirs. There is something else
I should share.The Saluki is one of the earliest domesticated breeds of dogs. They are perhaps
the fasted breed in the world. In the Middle East they hunted gazelle and jackals.
So what is the coyote doing?
Based on what I know about wildlife and the expression on this coyote's face that all
dog lovers recognize, this coyote is having a bit of fun and wants to play. And this coyote has
figured out the pink flags marking the invisible fence are a barrier for their frustrated 'playmate'.
Coyotes playing with objects and teasing humans is not new. California coyotes steal golf balls.
FACT: Coyotes, like all wildlife can be defensive if threatened.
FACT: Coyotes should never be fed.
FACT: Never ever run from a coyote.
FACT: Coyotes are in every county in Michigan.
Will a coyote eat a stray cat or small dog? It happens. But vehicles pose far more threat
to pets than coyotes. Coyotes have killed two humans in the United States in the past 100 years
in highly unusual circumstances however The Center for Disease Control states there are
4.7 million dog bites per year in the US, with 800,000 Americans needing hospital treatment and
and average of 16 deaths from dogs.
I am thrilled by the image captured by my not so far away neighbor Charles Dean and the
two coyotes that come calling at the fringe of wildlands and urban living. The tennis ball
offering reminds me of humans looking and smiling at primates in the zoo. And when I hear
coyotes howl and yip outside my home tonight in Brandon Township I'll smile and
think of tennis balls and a coyote with a sense of pleasure and perhaps sense of humor.