I have the eyes of a predator and I use them. When I hunt or fish, the purpose is obvious. Otherwise, looking at the natural world through the eyes of an intelligent predator is for the purposes of learning and understanding changes in the natural order. Seasonal changes make for a perfect example.
I’ve been noticing coyotes using nature corridors into our communities. I’ve watched them trot along our bushy creek beds and through agricultural fields and orchards. During the daytime they are more reserved, but at night they assert themselves as bold, smart and resourceful predators.
This is the time of year we expect to see numerous varmints foraging throughout our neighborhoods. The weather is hot and dry, and it is necessary to range farther afield in search of water and prey. Many varmints are adept at stealth hunting in town. Raccoons and skunks forage mostly at night and try to stay out of sight. They have few enemies in town, except for us humans.
Most dogs going after one of these hunters are quickly taught a lesson. Size isn’t everything. A snarly disposition or a horrible scent gland can go a long way in a fight.
Large critters such as cougar, bobcat and bear may forage throughout the fringes of town. A coyote is high on the food chain because it ranges far, hunts smart and will eat most anything. Of all the foraging wild varmints who venture into town, the coyote is the one that earns my greatest respect. Fresh meat is its first choice, but most everything else ranks second.
I most often see coyotes hunting in the pre-dawn hours. The daytime foraging pattern of one I nearly collided with recently on Los Carneros Road reminds me that they are expanding their time range as well as their geographic range during this dry, hot time of year. Why is that? I’m thinking that daytime is when we have more of our pets outside, where they are vulnerable.
Our pets make fine meals for a coyote. At this season, more than any other, it is important to protect your pets. Keep your cats indoors. Keep a sharp eye on small dogs. Hide your hamsters. Hang your bird cage someplace safe. Leave your pet lizards in the house. Cover the koi pond. Take every precaution to keep your pets from becoming prey.
Think about how awful it would be to watch a coyote halt and gaze haughtily at you while your kitty is hanging from its hungry mouth.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.