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imagesHere in Denver, we live cheek by jowl with nature, which is becoming redder in tooth and claw.  Coyotes are getting bolder, biting small children and even attacking adults.  Small pets have vanished suspiciously.

In a nearby urban park, I’ve seen coyotes, some skulking through the brush, but others marching boldly toward who knows what sort of mayhem.  No attacks yet on joggers or soccer players, nor pitiful yelps and mournful cries of “Come back, little Sheba!”  But this bit of good luck is no thanks to the obliviousness of some dog owners who, despite signs warning of coyote danger and reiterating leash-law strictures, regularly let Fifi romp in the tall grass where a well-concealed coyote is setting the table for a dinner of Shih Tzoup and Yorkshire Terrieraki with a side of Pomeranian Frites.

It’s tempting to suggest to these ninnies that Wile E. is waiting around the corner, but why not let Darwin have his innings.  Perhaps, with more practice and a little luck, our adaptable neighbor can winnow out the truly feckless (and I’m not talking about dogs).

Besides cunning and amazing adaptability, Denver coyotes have the advantage of a transportation network that would have been the envy of the early Interstate Highway planners.  The Highline Canal is a good example.  It once drew water from the South Platte River in the Foothills to irrigate farms and ranches to the east, on the Plains, but now wanders like an irresolute earthworm, dry most of the year and a perfect unbroken coyote path from burbs to urbs.

“OK, dear, I’m off to work,” Papa Coyote calls from the den door.  “Yes, yes.  Don’t forget your shopping list.  One chihuahua for Wile E. Junior, a poodle or two, and, if you’re near a supermarket, some noodles to go with the poodles.  Bye bye.  Lope safely.”

Later on, when the kids get bigger, Mama and Papa will send them off to the Big City to polish their job skills, treading the same well-worn trail that Papa traveled.  They’ll come home from time to time, bringing a squirrel or a chipmunk if they’re thoughtful.  Some of them, sadly, will get involved with the wrong crowd, drinking too much ditch water, partying in alleyways, crossing crowded streets on a dare.  But most will survive, get married, and multiply, setting up households along the hundreds of miles of trails that connect with the Highline Canal, then in parks, then in back yards, ….

By then, will the supply of pets have diminished?  Will we, challenged by a fitter, mentally more agile, far more urban-savvy foe, be the next item on the menu?  But let’s not be alarmist.  Nature has a wayof fighting fire with fire.  Mountain lions are making their way stealthily into our midst and rumor has it they’re getting tired of their usual diet.  Now, how to distract them from our darling little Mittens?……………………….. and promote …………………….. The Other Red Meat!