When I was younger I loved to sleep with my window cracked most of the year. I loved to hear the different animals stir, to know that the wild was near. But every now and then I would get jolted awake by the ominous cry of the coyote. Their yips, barks, and howls felt so haunting and imposing. I would lie awake wondering what kind of critter had just met their demise. I’d picture these savage beasts covered in innocent blood celebrating death.
Now that I am older, I hear the coyotes cry and celebration much differently. Living here in Central Oregon I have learned that our government’s “Wildlife Services” uses horse meat laced with 1080, a left over bio-chemical weapon designed during WWII, to poison large batches of coyotes. I have learned that if a coyote even shows its self near a rancher’s cattle, the county will offer a bounty for its head. I’ve learned that these creatures are not savage beasts who take multiple mates and lack attachment for sport. Instead, they have had to adapt to taking several mates because whole lines of their family are killed at a time. In fact, the image of the cunning evil creature has been created by humans. We have poisoned them for years. But to our dismay, their intelligence and ability to create community has lead them to persevere.
When I hear the coyotes yip, bark, and howl, I no longer feel haunted. Instead I feel reassured that nature continues despite humanity’s cruel attempts to control it. I hear the cry of a dog, not unlike the dog sleeping next to me in my bed, celebrating that it’s pups will live to see another day.