Monday, April 5, 2010

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Coyote - Ian Merringer

We read this article during class time as a follow-up to the newspaper reports during last semester about the tragic death of 19-year-old musician Taylor Mitchell. The initial newspaper reports focused on things such as her hiking alone and potentially wearing an Ipod, being unaware of her surroundings. This article talks about how the behaviour of coyotes is changing and how this is resulting in more attacks on humans.

The article explains that coyotes are highly intelligent and adaptable creatures. As people have replaced forested lands with farm fields, the coyote has been able to be successful in the fringes of even the smallest of wooded lots. The coyotes' intelligence allows them to quickly assess whether people pose a threat to them and they will change behaviour accordingly. Two wildlife specialists, Robert Timm and Rex Baker, "have developed a seven-point scale to measure a coyote's transition from being naturally fearfull towards humans to being a safety threat". What surprised me is that daytime sightings of coyotes is in the middle of this scale.

I am one that loves to see wildlife in their natural habitat and I have seen coyotes on many occasions. After readings this article, I will be looking at future encounters in a different light. I think this is an article that everyone should read, as we all visit coyote habitats. Recent sitings of coyotes near schools in Ottawa would reinforce some of the theories that coyote behaviour in and near urban areas is changing and that we need to address this issue.

Merringer, Ian. "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Coyote." Explore March/April 2010: 161. Print.


  1. Rating: ***

    I think that this article was great and really opened up a new perspective for people about coyotes. It is typical for people to assume that coyotes are afraid of them, and that they wouldn't attack a human, but people still avoid them non the less. This article further proves why people should be even more cautious to avoid coyotes as shown through the attack of Taylor Mitchell, and the detailed history of coyotes and wolves evolving.

    Overall I think that this article allows people to have a new outlook on coyotes, and helps them to be more aware of what is going on, especially with coyotes moving closer to the city, and becoming more brave. This article helps people prepare for the unexpected of wildlife.

  2. Rating:****

    I think this article is very educational, people tend to think that something like the attack of Taylor Mitchell will never happen to them, this article cleary disproves that, it could happen to anyone. We all need to learn to be wary of wildlife. We don't need to be cruel but we can't let animals learn to trust us or the number of attacks will continue to rise. It is good for us to have a healthy dose of fear of animals and them of us. This article also reinforces the need for the buddy system. If Taylor had been with someone else at the time she was attacked they may have been able to help her scare off the coyotes.
    I think that it is important that everyone learns of the danger from wild animals and this article does a good job of educating.

  3. I believe that this is a great article to get peoples attention on why coyotes are becoming more curious and brave and why they are coming out during the day. I myself, have encountered numerous coyotes on our farm and realize that these animals are no cute little cuddly creatures. If a coyote is coming out during the day and encounters humans and dose not cower away, beware. This is a good sign that the animal is desperate for food and is willing to do almost anything for it.

    If ever in woods or back country, you should always be aware of your surrounding, by yourself or with friends. Wearing an ipod or some other kind of device makes you vulnerable to anything, even if you dont think theres anything there. When ever I go to the forest on my land I always bring a knife. Why, because I know theres coyotes and wolves around.

    Another reason why coyotes are becoming more aggressive is because we are destroying the homes. With are over developing we consume what used to be theres. In result they have to move to find somewhere to live and sometimes theres no where for them to go. So they stay and live in the little wooded areas they find, even if it is your back yard.

  4. Rating: ***

    After reading this article in class earlier this year it reminded how the outdoors is dangerous no matter where you are. What really shocked me was how dominant the coyotes acted towards the humans. When the American hikers found 19-year-old Taylor Mitchell they began shouting and hurling rocks in attempts to scare the coyotes away from Taylor, but the animals wouldn't leave the scene.

    The article was very interesting as it goes on to explain more attacks by coyotes and the characteristics of their species. It also gives some advice on how to react if ever you encountered a coyote. For example, you should pose as a fearsome opponent by making noise and acting confident. Give the coyote space and retreat slowly if you can, but don't turn your back, run or do anything to trigger the animal's chase reflex.

    This story is very sad and it is terrible that Taylor did not survive the attack. Hopefully as the article says we will find out how coyotes learn, how they pass on knowledge, and what role people can play. This may help in the future to lessen the amount of attacks. However for now, I know that I will never travel alone through the woods.

  5. Rating: ****

    This article was an eye-opener. It exhibits how no matter how prepared or experienced someone may be, they can never predict what may happen when they venture out into the wilderness.
    It brings great awareness to the fact that coyotes are a large threat and when in the wild, one should use great caution and be on constant alert. Exercising vigilance never hurts. Coyotes are dangerous animals, and unfortunately Taylor Mitchell did not survive her encounter with the beasts, but the loss of her life should work also as a warning. Take heed from this tragedy and always be on guard, anything can happen.