Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Coyote Alert on the Santa Ana Freeway

Today was one of those days I dread – driving up to Los Angeles on a weekday. It was only a 44 mile drive, but the assumption was that it would take 1 ½ hours – which assumption proved correct.

We learn in geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. That is not the case with the LA Freeway system, where distance is measured in time rather than miles.

A quick check on Google Map this morning showed that the I-5, the Santa Ana Freeway, was both the shortest and quickest route. The 5 North was backed up in the usual places, but that’s foreseeable. The 5 South was clear.

Navigation the traffic snags is a normal experience. Suddenly, by Downey the 5 South was totally empty. No vehicles – just open space, or open asphalt to be precise.

Further up a Trooper was conducting the weave to stop or slow all lanes.

Then on the open freeway was another Highway Patrol car and a animal control vehicle. A coyote shut down the freeway and the trooper was trying to track it down. The coyote was using the open road as his/her personal highway.

Southern California has a large coyote population. They do not discriminate between barrios and affluent communities, such as Villa Park. The actual population count is unknown because they can stay out of sight. You know coyotes are around when pictures of Fifi and Mitzi are posted on telephone poles. Those little dogs and cats are coyote food. The normal diet of coyotes includes rodents, rabbits, and small birds. Only a few instances have occurred when coyotes have got after humans. Urban coyotes are substituting fat, plump house pets for their traditional diet. These house pets are too domesticated to instinctively flee.

Coyotes are smart and opportunistic. Native Americans referred to Wily E. Coyote as The Trickster. They are survivors. One joke says it all. If Armageddon ever comes, three species will survive: cockroaches, coyotes, and lawyers.

A study discovered that if you kill a few coyotes in a pack, the rest will reproduce quicker. The more you kill, the more they breed.

Coyotes are homesteading the Bronx. Three in February tried to matriculate at Columbia, while others showed up in Central Park and Tribeca. A few packs of coyotes in Manhattan could decimate a good percent of the rat population of New York.

One tried and proven method of coyote elimination exists. Bring in a pack of wolfs, who are larger and quicker than their cousins. They will either kill or drive off the coyotes.

Of course, maybe it was a dog, but it looked like a coyote, gaited like a coyote, and its tongue was hanging out like a coyote.

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