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By: Emily Zhang

A runner runs on the road then stops in his tracks. In the distance, a dog-like animal appears on a rock, casting a shadow over the ground. The runner walks towards the “dog”, then backs away in realization. Sometimes confused with a dog, a coyote is a type of animal that is better left alone in the wild than tampered with.

A coyote is a bit smaller than its close relative, the wolf. Coyotes have big bushy tails and lots of fur. A coyote does not cause a problem in our community, but it does not solve any problems either. A coyote is labeled “least concern” by the International Union of Conservation of Nature because it has lots of prey to catch and eat.

You might see a coyote at night, maybe occasionally along the streets and roads. They are found near small woods or bushes, in desert regions, or in drier regions. You wouldn’t find a coyote living in Florida, or at least normally, or along the coast and beaches of Hawaii.

I usually see coyotes around my neighborhood and near the woods in front of my house (I live in Arizona). Once, on the way to school, I spotted a coyote simply roaming the streets in front of my friend’s home. Another time, my father said he saw one sprinting off into the woods with a rabbit in its mouth! I’m glad Brownie, my bunny, wasn’t outside at that time.

When I saw a coyote for the first time near the woods, I admit, I thought it was a stray husky but colored in a different way. I wanted to run towards it, but my mother was with me, and she told me to slowly back away, not to turn around. I felt a little confused and scared – I still thought that the coyote was a dog, and I was wondering why my mother told me to go away from a dog. Once safely home, I asked her why we had to go away. Realization flashed over me when she replied that it was actually a coyote.

Looking back at that time, I now think that the coyote was looking at us, probably calculating if we were some sort of threat to it. Coyotes are curious animals. They tend to sort of observe people from a distance. They aren’t fighters, they don’t attack people unless their cubs (children) are being threatened or touched. Now bobcats – well, that’s a whole other thing and species!

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