Thursday June 8th
Partly cloudy, 70’s, full moon tomorrow, early evening
A couple of weeks ago while they were out foraging, Wil and our sweet friend Ben found a deer that had been killed by coyotes.
The kill was so recent that most likely Wil and Ben had scared the hunters away from their meal as they passed through, which meant that there were fresh coyote tracks scattered throughout the area, and the deer’s blood still ran liquid from its wounds.
By the time I was able to get out to check out the spot later that day, flies were already busily laying their eggs in the meat and hide, and the doe’s beautiful eyes had clouded over. Cool to the touch, eviscerated, and peppered with bite wounds, laying a hand on her flank I said a quiet thanks for the chance to see such a thing here in this fairly urban woodland, and hoped her death had been quick and as painless as possible.
Wil and I have long suspected that coywolves prowled this particular area. On the line between urban/suburban park/woodland, and the manicured greens of a popular golf course, there’s a wooded hillside closed to hikers that borders the river on one side. A stealthy wild canine could happily reside in such a spot and hunt and forage in the surrounding areas including the edges of the city and about 500 acres of park with a healthy, thriving deer population. If I was a coywolf, its certainly the place that I would choose to call home. (Actually, I’d be happy to call such a place home as a human too! But I digress…)
We’ve looked for sign of them before and as my love of coyotes has grown over the years so have our tracking efforts. But our searching resulted in not much- a couple of questionable, dusty half-tracks, and a small sample of possible scat. And yet, all of our instincts were telling us this land was the perfect spot for them.
In recent years the Coywolf population has blossomed here in the northeast and all over eastern north america. Also called the Eastern Coyote, the name Coywolf refers to their genetic make-up, a mixture of Eastern Wolf, Western Coyote, and Domestic Dog. As wolf populations dropped wolves began to mate with western coyotes and the coywolf hybrid was born.
Incredibly secretive, mostly nocturnal and happy dwelling in the edgy kind of habitats we humans are so fond of creating, the Coywolf is filling an incredibly important predatorial niche in habitats all over its range.
I was happy just suspecting they were living here. But to know for sure? Makes my heart skip a beat.
Because theirs is a story of adaptation, of resiliency. Of wolves and coyotes finding a way to raise families and stay alive under impossible odds and nearly constant persecution by our agricultural society. It’s a story of shape shifting, of cultural adaptation and the survival of an ancient way of life in the face of a civilization at war with all things wild.
I would still love to see a Coywolf, and maybe I will someday. It’s an especially tantalizing thought now that I know they are actually right there, practically my neighbors.
But part of me just wants them to stay hidden. To live out their secret primal lives without human eyes, or our desires, landing upon them.
And that’s a special kind of love, a wild kind of love. The kind of love we don’t need to possess to enjoy, where just feeling the presence of another’s soul is enough, and there is great joy in knowing they are free.
This piece is dedicated to our dog Buck, who passed away a few days ago and totally broke our hearts in a way I was not expecting. He was our faithful companion for over 12 years, and was for sure woven into the very fabric of our lives. Hope you felt you had a good life buddy, and hope the hunting is good where you are now. Love you old boy, we all miss you very much.