Every so often the internet lights up your day with some truly splendid nugget of information, inspiration, or wisdom.
Today we were informed of the existence of the Urban Coyote Project. “The Natural History of the Urban Coyote” is an ambitious photojournalism project revolving around the elusive and curious urban dwelling coyote. Meshing together the latest coyote science from all over North America with some truly stunning photography, the Urban Coyote team does a masterful job at blowing away a lot of misconceptions surrounding this small but powerful canine.
The first piece that crossed our news feed came from photographer Tricia Jenner entitled “What do do if you encounter a coyote while walking your dog“.
If you live in North America (and South America, as it happens), you probably have a stake in the coyote debate. This seemingly diminutive relative of our pitties, corgis, and danes can bring out the best and worst in some people. For many, the idea of “co-existing” with an animal such as a coyote is totally out of the question.
As you can expect, The Natural History of the Urban Coyote maintains the stance that the coyotes – along with all other species – have their part to play in the circle of life and we are in the enviable position to make that decision to keep them included for the sake of our ecosystem.
Coyote Country – Keeping the Balance and a Safe Distance
The good folks at the Urban Coyote Project have four easy to follow steps to help give coyotes the space they need to continue to play their part while still getting out and enjoying ourselves in the green spaces in our cities and towns.
- Avoid walking your dog during sunset and sunrise hours
- Walk on open trails and paths – no bush whacking!
- Avoid all coyote territory – especially during breeding season (about January to August)
- KEEP YOUR DOG ON A LEASH (2m length or less)
We know full well that restrictions on where and when one can walk his or her dog will not be received well by everybody. We all have a different feeling about the wild spaces and the creatures living in them. The fact of the matter, however, is that the more we willingly encroach on the wilderness, the more the wild will need to find ways to adapt and survive in our midst. This seldom goes very well for wild animals.
This sad fact is seen any time a backpacker or cyclist is attacked and mauled by a bear or cougar… or any time someone’s dog is attacked by a coyote or larger predator.
While larger predators are not seen very often wandering the streets of Calgary (though it has been known to happen – such as this bobcat seen in Britannia last January), coyotes have probably been spotted just about everywhere and as far into the interior as the Stampede grounds.
Responsible Pet Ownership is NOT a Drag
The Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw was not enacted to irritate people. It was created to strike a balance between people, dogs, and the landscape. If you see your responsibility as a pet owner (parent) as active stewardship then you can kind of give it a quest-like feel.
Think about the power you’re holding on to
By doing something as trivial as keeping your dog on a leash of reasonable length, you are helping hold together an entire ecosystem! THAT’S HUGE!
Many dog parents make the decision to not leash their dog because their dogs are “off leash trained” and we are not here to devalue all of the hard work they put into training their dogs. However well trained your dog might be, someone else’s dog might not be that well trained and perhaps they don’t think of that when they see you with your dog off leash. All they will think about is “If he can do it, why can’t I?”
It may be a small example but it’s a valid example all the same: anything we can do to reduce the strain on the natural ecosystem should definitely be considered.
Or, to get Hollywood, to paraphrase Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm character in Jurassic Park “[We’re] so preoccupied with whether or not [we] could, that they didn’t stop to think if [we] should.”
Reduce Your Paw Print (see what we did there?)
Keeping your dog on his leash everywhere possible and always cleaning up his poop (regardless of diet) is a major first step to reducing your impact. There are many many places that we can go to enjoy the natural world. They are all clearly marked by benches, signage, and trails. Sure, we all have a curiosity – and sometimes indignation – about us that compels us to stray “off the beaten path” but the truth of the matter is we do that on a regular basis through the expansion of our industries and of our species as a whole.
It doesn’t sound fair but, hey, think about the coyotes, man!
Read the full article by Jaymi Heimbuch on the Urban Coyote Project website:
What to do if you encounter a coyote while walking your dog