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a bit of ferality


The steady incursion of the coyote into North American cities is an outstanding example of the kind of hyper-ecologies I am interested in. Though it is native, the coyote evolved as an interstitial species, having to eke out a living in the ecological between the wolf and the fox, and so it always had to be adaptable. Vacant industrial lands and suburban cul-de-sacs have become as much home to the coyote as the arroyos and sage steppes of its traditional habitats, but they offer rich new food sources in the form of ubiquitous garbage and dim-witted house pets. Quick to learn and selectively omnivorous, the coyote thrives in the wreckage of wilderness, where its larger cousin the wolf has been largely extirpated.

Among the sidewalks and rhododendrons and stupendously overpriced little stucco houses of East Vancouver, I was charmed to come across one of these clever canids, making its rounds; methodically investigating the driveways and gaps between houses for a chance at some badly packed trash or a succulent, over-fed cat. I followed it for, a while and though it seemed well aware of my presence, it maintained just enough distance to continue with its nonchalant foraging, never once breaking its stride. Despite our fantasies of control over our built environments, there is no doubt in my mind who will ultimately inherit them. Whether tearing into our garbage or chewing on our bloated corpses, the coyote will surely outlast us. Whether we like it or not, the future is feral…

2 comments to a bit of ferality

  • avatar Marie-Lou

    Thank you Robert for this last sentence of your comment, it shed some light on my day!

    As for coyotes, I haven’t seen any in Montreal yet. But there are foxes on the Mont-Royal and in the surrounding neighboorhoods. As Oliver described his coyotes, the fowes around here seem to feel at home and are also very nonchalant in their behavior. After all, it is their homeland too isn’t it?
    The most spectacular and famous wild life adjustment we got is perhaps the hawks living on the 32nd floor of Ville-Marie Tower, the highest skycraper around here. Every week, the maintenance guys have to clean up 2 big on-wheels green recycling containers full of pigeon and rodent skelettons or furry remains, clearly the main food source hawks got.

    Everybody is happy to have them around, they are definetely the wild life superstars downtown. And a little fewer rats or pigeons don’t make much difference really… they are not going extinct any time soon!
    What a sight it is to see them dive from above all the way down to sidewalk level, at the surprise of pedestrians, drivers and of course most of all the pigeons themselves! What a great view they must have of the whole city… being allowed to see much further than any tree top could must no doubt be the absolute hawk’s dream!

    Last year, they made the news headline with a family picture: male, female and 4 little chicks!
    That means life is for them indeed pretty good in the high level floors of human society! Big success for those self-nested hawks!

  • avatar Robert Boyington

    Oliver, I too have seen many coyotes wandering through , and following residents with pets on leashes , in my Oakville neighborhood. And , i recall ,until the encroachment of the residential developments north of Upper Middle Road & Third Line , i used to sit on my front porch in the evening , and hear their cries north of us. It is strange that the developments didn’t force them further north over Hwy. 5 ( Dundas Street ), i imagine they have taken a liking to the ever present gourmet waste that lines our garbage cans , or our overindulged and overfed pets. Or perhaps their presence is yet another sign of our ineptitude at ecological balance and awareness.

    I do remember a time when things seemed more balanced , more in tune. But , i was a child then , enjoying drawing dinosaurs and hockey players with my friend from Park Royal Public School, and staying at his house on the hill near the Credit River. I guess we don’t know how important ecology is , until we drive through our childhood towns in search of our memories , only to find them missing.

    Take care my old friend ,and i have to say i am proud to know you, and proud of the man you’ve become.

    ” Life begins when I realize I have value , and happiness happens when it doesn’t matter if anyone agrees ”

    Robert Boyington