Saturday, December 19, 2015


If you live in an urban community, perhaps you’ve been amazed to receive official communication about wildlife in the area.
  • Has that happened to you?
I opened my email last week to find a message from Patrick Moore, Administrative Manager of Claremont Civic Association. (I live in Claremont, a development  in Bethany, a suburban place in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.) 

I quote Patrick’s humorous words: “I'm happy to announce that a retired TV star recently moved into Claremont. We are graced with the presence of Wile E. Coyote living among us.” He included a photo.

Claremont's "Movie Star" dancing on a driveway. (Photo by Marlene Grochau. Used with permission)

The “retired movie star” happens to be a wild coyote. Several residents have reported sighting the same, but there’s only one known photo of the “movie star".

This brought to my mind wildlife sightings I've made and encounters I’ve had. Just this morning, from my window, I saw dozens of geese fly over in a  huge V-shaped formation from north to south. I recall the chickadees I saw in the maple tree outside my window yesterday, the white heron I saw in nearby Bronson Creek last summer, and duck families and muskrats in neighborhood ponds. 

When I lived in Tacoma, Washington, I saw raccoons regularly. One of those normally-friendly creatures attacked Prince, our Shetland sheepdog, early one Sunday morning. I kicked the raccoon. The 'coon jumped off Prince's back and ran. I was wearing my hiking boots. No football player ever place-kicked harder. 

In Washington County, Oregon, in which I live now, the administration has set aside dozens of acres of land for run-off water purification under the Clean Water program. This undeveloped acreage provides shelter for crows, nesting areas for ducks and, yes, an environment for coyotes.

In that connection, a friend of mine belongs to an organization that supports wildlife in suburban areas. He expressed a hope that has stuck with me:  “The suburbs may be the salvation of wildlife.” Perhaps so. The undeveloped woodlands and creek beds give desirable shelter. But it pays to be prepared if you're confronted.

If the critter you encounter offers potential danger, Patrick offers five suggestions:

1. Please don't feed the wildlife in the area. This includes squirrels, geese, and other wild animals.
2. If you have pets, please feed them indoors. Outdoor pet food looks like a buffet table to a wild animal, and they will come by your home regularly.
3. Keep pets indoors, or if you walk them, please keep them on a leash. If you see our coyote, pick up your dog and/or head indoors immediately.
4. Be careful while walking or jogging. If you are running, a lot of wild animals correlate your behavior with that of prey.
5. If you are confronted, most wildlife experts suggest opening your coat so that you ‘look bigger.

You may have other ideas of your own, including ideas about supporting wildlife. If so, please leave a message that I can share.

Wildlife can bring pleasure or pain. Like St. Francis, who befriended wolves and even a lion, let's enjoy our  wildlife neighbors, taking necessary precautions to avoid attack of course. Further back in religious history, Jesus said, "Behold the fowls of the air." 

Welcome, Wile E. Coyote, but please mind your manners.


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