August 26, 2013 § 1 Comment
I lived in Silverlake for years thinking the neighborhood had an unusually large number of feral dogs because at night or when police sirens blared a chorus of great throaty yowls arose.
Then I camped in the San Gabriel Mountains, where signs warned against feeding coyotes, and heard the same yipping bark.
I got back to the city and immediately called the rangers’ station in Griffith Park. Was it possible that coyotes from the park could range as far as Silverlake, a good two miles away?
“They could,” a ranger told me, “but more likely they’re living right in your neighborhood.”
But this is a densely populated urban area, I protested; surely no wild creature that size lived so close to humans.
“Sure, they do,” the ranger said. “They’re living in the brush all over those hills.”
Once I accepted that fact, I began to see what had been hidden in plain sight. Coyotes crossing streets, loping from one patch of brush to another. Coyote pups gamboling in the reservoir meadow (back when it was still fenced in). Coyotes sitting inside the reservoir fence staring out, as if we were on display and he a zoo visitor. Pass-throughs just big enough for a coyote dug under the reservoir fence.
From these encounters, I’ve learned that while caution is always advised, coyotes aren’t really interested in messing with two-leggeds. Pussy cats and small dogs are another matter, to which the frequency of “lost pet” flyers attest.
It’s no surprise then that coyotes figure prominently in our public art. The Gold Line stop on 26th Street in Lincoln Heights features a coyote tale. The Micheltorena Street School painted one into its Sunset Boulevard mural.
And one day, this image—a stencil actually—appeared near the Los Angeles River at the base of a Memorial Bridge pylon. It’s good we snapped the photo when we did: the next time I passed by, it was gone. An overzealous graffiti removal team had painted it over.
Postscript: Last week, up the hill from our house, we turned the corner and there, in the middle of the street, trotting towards us in a manner I can only describe as insouciant, was a coyote, adolescent-sized. He paused, we moved to the sidewalk, and all of us resumed our travels. Just another day in the urban wilderness.