Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yosemite's Tame Coyotes

There are a couple of tame coyotes in Yosemite National Park these days. Kathy and I came across a pair a couple of weeks ago as we were driving north along Highway 41 about 30 minutes north of the park's southern entrance. I've learned that it pays when travelling in national parks to pull over immediately when confronted with a traffic jam (something I've learned from my friend Steve). People are often stopped to take pictures or just to look at some interesting natural phenomenon. This time it turned out to be a big dog (two actually): Canis latrans, commonly known as the coyote.

I've seen a number of coyotes in my life and when I saw this one, I was impressed by its size. For a second I wanted to believe that it might just be a small wolf. Maybe California introduced a pack of wolves, I thought. But the longer I watched the creatures, the more I realized that this wasn't likely. These two animals seemed almost tame. They made no attempt to leave the line of clicking cameras and seemed to be all but asking for hand-outs.

After spending a lovely day in Yosemite Valley, we returned and found the same animals on the same stretch of road as before. At this point I was certain that we were looking at tame coyotes. More cars were stopped and tourists were taking pictures. The thought went through my mind that this animal is known to be the bane of ranchers. People are willing to pay money for their pelts. But you have to admit that they're attractive animals and make for a nice show. Yosemite could do worse.

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