The wilds of suburbia

We had a coyote in our backyard this morning.  Well, it was either a very red coyote or a very large fox.  I’m not sure and Google isn’t being very helpful about the whole thing.  It was red like a fox, as large as a coyote, with a long pouffy tail and pointy ears like both, and it was not a dog (I am pretty knowledgeable when it comes to dog breeds).  It was also running like it was scared, or stole something, or smelled cake (what?  wouldn’t that make you run?).

*Side note – did you know that any member of the genus Canis (dog, wolf, coyote, fox, or jackal) can breed together?  I think if I thought about it long enough I would have known this, having seen wolf/German Shepherd hybrids before, but it’s interesting to think that my 12 lb mama’s boy Shih Tzu, in theory, could successfully breed with a 175 lb Grey Wolf. 

Anyway…

I live in an under-construction subdivision, but there are some forests and fields north of us.  We often see many rabbits, the occasional fox, but coyotes usually stick to the areas a little further away.  While it was pretty cool seeing wildlife in our construction zone of a neighbourhood (I even told Eirinn that it was Swiper, which she thought was the most awesome thing in history), it made me quite sad.  It’s my fault (and the fault of my hundreds and thousands of neighbours in all the surrounding subdivisions) that these animals have no where to go but our backyards. 

We’re intruding on their land, not the other way around.  They were there first, by several hundred years, at least.  They had their own little subdivisions made up of trees and burrows and brush and we came, staked our claim without asking or compensating, and ploughed their homes over, leaving them homeless and transient.  And you know what will happen when these displaced animals find themselves caught in a subdivision?  I don’t for certain, but I’m afraid of possibilities.

I know this is awfully hypocritical of me to be harping about, especially given that our house was purchased before the field was even serviced.  We saw these animals homes and without hesitation signed their eviction papers.  And I love our home and the potential our neighbourhood has.  I believe it will be a beautiful subdivision to raise our two kids; we wouldn’t have bought it if we didn’t think so. 

But I can’t help feel a nasty stab of guilt anytime I see some undomesticated animal scurry by, afraid and disoriented.  I can’t help but think of people less sympathetic than me whose first reaction may be to call animal control (which would be a good thing because we have a no-kill policy in our area) or to frighten them more by taunting and cornering them or to take matters into their own hands, rightfully afraid for their children and pets.

Perhaps it’s best that I don’t know for sure what happened to the coyote-fox.  This way, when asked by Eirinn where the “box” went, I can tell her that Dora must have told him “Swiper, no swiping” and he just ran away and not feel like I’m hiding something grim and horrible from her.

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