Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Coyote commuters

As soon as I saw this photograph in the current Audubon magazine, I wanted to include it in Quigley's Cabinet. It was taken in Oregon in 2002 after a wild coyote was chased off the tarmac at Portland International Airport. It darted under several trains before boarding the light-rail train bound for downtown. The beastie was lassoed and released. An official describes, "He was really sweet. He didn't growl or anything. [He] ran away and bounded after some field mice." I remembered an equally engaging image from 2007 when a coyote wandered into a Quizno's restaurant in Chicago and took a seat in the beverage cooler (video here). A search brought up an incident 10 years earlier in which a coyote being chased by crows darted into a federal office building in downtown Seattle and ended up in the elevator (photo in this slideshow). Having already decided to feature commuting coyotes on my next post, I discovered - as luck would have it - an occurrence just 2 days ago! A coyote looking a little worse for wear was found near the exit turnstiles in a station on the Rock Island District line of the Chicago Metra (more photos here). “You’d never expect to find a wild animal there. [It] looked really sheepish and really sad. It just sat there...it was like Wile E. Coyote after a rough day with the Road Runner,’’ describes a police sergeant. The coyotes were captured and released without harm to commuters or the animals, although "lethal control" is often considered when coyotes are bold enough to emerge during daylight. The Audubon article points out that over the past decade coyotes have gained a foothold in most major U.S. metro areas (there are an estimated 2,000 in Chicago) and in fact play a significant role in the urban ecosystem, helping to keep in check populations of everything from Canada geese to deer. It's a matter of coexisting without feeding them, which only serves to embolden them. No more Quizno's pitstops, Wile E.

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