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The other morning I drove over to Sweetwater Wetlands with the intention of taking some pictures. I was dismayed when I got there to find that the wetlands’ main parking lot was completely full and that perhaps 1/3 of the spaces in the satellite lot were taken. The wetlands is not a big place and when more than a handful of people are there the wildlife tends to retreat. I toyed with the idea of simply turning around and leaving. Suddenly, something caught my eye. I looked over into the satellite parking area and saw a very large and extremely robust looking Coyote standing right by the road, watching me.
I love Coyotes — I consider them to be among the most beautiful animals that I see and so, I had no doubt that I wanted to photograph it. I rolled down my car window, carefully stuck the lens out, and began shooting. The Coyote reacted by trotting away for a few yards. Then, it turned and watched me warily.
Coyotes are among nature’s greatest success stories. A couple of hundred years ago their range was confined to the Western states and primarily to the plains. White settlers viewed this animal as a nuisance at best and competition at worst and set about on a determined campaign to exterminate them. Coyotes have been shot, trapped, and poisoned. And, instead of dying off, they increased their numbers and expanded their range.
It turned out that Coyotes love the “improvements” that we have made to our environment. Timbering forests increased the open range that Coyotes thrive on. Planting crops greatly increased the rodents that Coyotes eat. Constructing subdivisions and office parks expanded the Coyotes’ habitat still further. Today, Coyotes thrive in all of the continental United States. They live as well in urban environments as they do in the countryside. They have been seen in urban parks in New York City. Once, I saw a Coyote trotting across Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. On another occasion I watched a Coyote dodge traffic in a shopping center parking lot in Atlanta. Coyotes appear to have interbred with wolves in some parts of the United States and modern Coyotes, particularly in the eastern United States, are bigger than are their western counterparts.
So, let’s raise a glass to this beautiful survivor. One thing’s certain. If, some day, mankind becomes extinct, Coyotes will be around to see us off.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 640, Aperture Preferred setting, f6.3, shutter speeds varied.