There was a pack of coyotes behind my barn last night. They were at the pond the night before. They are very noisy this time of year as they call their pups out to water and start teaching them to hunt. I have always liked coyotes, even when I lived out west and they were common, brazen and numerous as leaves on a tree. I am in awe of their resiliency and adaptability. They are the only species I am aware of that has responded to all attempts to eradicate them by growing their population and spreading out instead of dying off.
Coyotes respond to hunting pressure by breeding faster and more abundantly. Left alone, a coyote pack reproduces much like wolves. A single female has a litter of 3-5 pups each year and the whole pack raises them. If that pack is hunted, all of the females will have pups. They can go from raising 3-5 pups a year to raising 20-25. The pack splits up and disperses, they find new territory. Twenty five years ago, there were no coyotes in the Northeast, now they are in every state and are moving into Canada.
I can understand the atavistic need to kill them off. I remember vividly, turning the flood light on at my barn in California and seeing hundreds of glowing eyes staring back at me from the fence line. When they start their eerie, frenzied yipping and howling right outside the window or, even worse, behind the barn where the baby donkey is dreaming, I can feel why people kill them.
Instead, I put on my boots and headed outside. I watched Emma, on super high alert, hustle Ramsey out of the barn to the middle of the big field, far away from any tree lines or hiding places, ready and willing to take on all threats. I watched Gabe and Tessa come galloping up from the lower field and charge out behind the barn, just itching to find a coyote to chase. I walked out to the fence line and told them to leave me be and I would leave them be, just as I did years ago in California when I faced a hundred pairs of glowing eyes. They melted away twenty some years ago just as they melted away last night.
I smiled and went for a walk under the brilliant light of a blue moon. The air like the softest whisper of silk, the most beautiful night we've had all summer. After a while I heard the far off singing of coyotes farther down the ridge. Another pack answered from the other direction. Three years ago, there was one pack on this ridge, a neighbor told me he was going to "clear them varmints all out". I counted four packs singing last night.