Last month we went to visit family at the BR ranch in West Texas. One morning I went for a run with my three dogs as well as three of my in-law’s dogs. **Cue Dog Whisperer theme music** This area is very remote so I don’t worry about them being off-leash. I’m no dog whisperer, but we rarely have any trouble aside from an occasional jackrabbit chase where the dogs only return a few minutes later empty handed and out of breath.
On this last run though we encountered a couple of coyotes along a dusty dirt road. The coyotes were pissed that we were on their turf and started yipping and barking at my dogs. The dogs started to bark and chase the coyotes around while I yelled “LEAVE THEM COYOTES ALONE!” at the top of my lungs. For good measure I added a few Cesar Milan “Tsch, Tsch” sounds like I knew what I was doing and had control of the situation. Seriously, who was I kidding? For a few minutes it was utter chaos, but once everyone said their peace, we turned around and headed back the way we had come while the coyotes retreated into the brush.
Everyone was present and accounted for…or...were they? One, two, three, four, five. Where is Taz! No where to be found. We refer to him as our special child because he is scrawny and hairless and wears a little doggie coat in the winter to keep warm. His family never told him that he was the runt of the pack so, in his mind, he is King of the Desert. Well, I kept calling him and finally he shot out from the brush with his coat half dragging behind him. I don’t know if he snagged it on a bush or if Wily Coyote tried to grab him. Nevertheless, everyone was fine.
This wasn’t the first time we encountered these two and have even seen other coyotes in and around El Paso near our neighborhood. Recent news articles have talked about an increase in coyote populations all over the US as they are opportunistic animals and will eat just about anything. They are a highly successful species because they are extremely intelligent and have keen senses.
As they begin to move into urban areas residents get nervous and city officials start talking about eradicating them. While they may be a threat to small pets and your three backyard chickens, coyote attacks on humans are extremely rare. Trust me, you are more likely to get T-boned on the way to work than attacked by a pack of wild canines. Unfortunately, our culture, folklore, fairy tales, and block buster Hollywood films have taught us that wolves and coyotes are people killers.
The truth is I frequently see coyotes while running trails in the desert and have never felt threatened. Even though my dogs have had close encounters with them, we have never had an attack or other serious problem. Once coyotes see humans they will usually take off running. I usually turn around or take another trail if I see them in my area, but not before snapping a few pictures if possible. How boring my running adventures would be without wildlife encounters.
See you on the trail.