Crouching Tiger, Crapping Coyote

wile-e-coyote-geese

The good thing about nature is how it’s so natural. Except when it’s unnatural, or even supernatural.

It’s colder than bedamned here in Illinois but, and here’s the great part, we haven’t had any snow or ice to speak of. That makes all the difference, especially for someone like me who likes to go for nature hikes.

It’s too dark to go after work, so I try to sneak out on my lunch hour a couple of times per week. My usual place is the towpath down on the canal, but that’s closed due to flooding. This screwy winter weather keeps bringing rain instead of snow. The state parks are too far away for an afternoon quickie, so that leaves me with the park in town. It’s wide, open tundra with a path that runs 8/10th of a mile around a pond.

I walked there yesterday and it was BRISK with a capital BRRRRRRR, especially around the back half of the pond. I resolved that next time I went I would double bundle-up. Next time turned out to be today. The place was deserted, sunny and cold again and I was still fiddling with my gloves 20 yards down the path, fixing my scarf so it would cover most of my face without knocking my earphones off, when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned and looked, then stopped dead.

There was a coyote at the edge of the pond.

It was about 30-40 feet away, big and gray. Did I mention that it was big? The beast was turned away from me, standing stock-still and looking intently at something in the pond. Then it lifted its bushy tail and I noticed its back was kind of humped.   The coyote was, er, having a private moment.  Taking a dump. Crapping. Call of the wild answers nature’s call.

These are the thoughts that ran through my brain as I stood frozen on the path, too scared to move lest I attract his attention. I was also thinking; why, oh why, had I left my pepper spray in the car? I never go without it in isolated areas, but this park is in town, surrounded by houses, albeit at a bit of a distance. Fat lot of good they would do me now. Fang would already have my throat ripped out before any of the neighbors noticed anything amiss.

I looked around, moving just my eyes, searching in vain for something to use as a weapon. Perhaps I could construct some sort of rudimentary lathe?* There must be a fallen tree branch nearby with which I could arm myself. But this well-manicured city park had nothing as messy as natural debris lying within reach.   It was pristine. Maybe I should make a run for it? Common sense asserted itself: there was no way I was going to outrun the thing, especially since I’m about as fleet of foot as a walrus, and he probably runs like a, well, a coyote. Those National Geo specials about the lion leaping on the wildebeest’s back to deliver the death bite to the back of the neck sprang quickly and sickeningly to mind.  Nature is dangerous, as I’ve mentioned before.

The coyote remained still as a statue and nothing appeared to be happening – just his tail waived. He hadn’t even turned around to look at me yet.  I realized that he wasn’t staring at prey, but was just concentrating intently on finishing his business.  Nothing seemed to be happening in that department.

wileecoyoteprunesI felt a moment of sympathy for a fellow creature; who hasn’t been there, done that?   Straining is never a good idea – you risk a heart attack – but what are you going to do when your plumbing’s backed up?  It looked like Wile E. Coyote needed to add more fiber to his diet.

As I stood there considering my options and contemplating the universality of constipation, a guy ran up from behind and passed me on the towpath. It seems there was another hardy human in the park. I wanted to scream to the man to be careful, but I didn’t want to rouse Fang’s wrath. Then I noticed that the guy had glanced casually at the coyote and kept on jogging, as if wild animals in the heart of the city were an everyday event. Fang still didn’t move. It was downright unnatural.

It occurred to me then that I might not be in mortal peril.

I unglued my feet from the path and advanced slowly, oh so slowly, toward the beast.

As I got closer I saw that the bottom of its legs had been chopped off and it was mounted on a single pole in its middle. What kind of sicko would do such a thing to an animal? Was it a macabre joke? Some satanic ritual? It wasn’t until I was 10 feet away that I discovered it was a very realistic plastic decoy, with what looked like a real coyote’s tail tacked on the end.

I looked around for someone from Candid Camera to jump out at me, but nothing happened so I shrugged and started walking again, waiting for my heart rate to return to normal. I’d already had a helluva cardio workout and I hadn’t gone 30 yards!  Farther down the path I saw yet another coyote statue down by the pond and I decided to take a picture of this one, to prove that I wasn’t crazy.  I picked my way carefully through the grass because it was a goose-poop minefield, and that’s when the light bulb went off over my head.

The coyote decoys were there to scare off geese.

Geese are flying, honking vermin. They have few natural predators and their chief one has been hog-tied by modern regulation.   If our ancestors saw a goose they would run to get their blunderbuss. Bam! Goose dinner. Now they can only be hunted on alternate Tuesdays during October if the temperature is between 48 and 49 degrees. As a consequence, the goose population has exploded and these loud, aggressive poop machines have become the curse of parks and subdivision ponds all over the US. At least Florida residents can count on alligators taking out a couple each year, but those of us in the Midwest aren’t so lucky.

A city worker was planting snow reflectors on the edge of the path about half way around the lake and I stopped to ask him about the coyotes. He said he’d come to the park a couple of days before and the place was overrun with geese.  He had put out the fake coyotes just that morning. Their whole bodies were supposed to pivot on the pole in the breeze, which along with the waving tail gave enough movement to fool the geese. Sure fooled me.

I commented on how realistic they were. I said the manufacturer must have a sense of humor to make one model that even looked like it was “going” – you couldn’t get more natural than that. The guy looked puzzled and said they were crouching, like a coyote does when it’s ready to spring at its prey.

Crouching? Crapping? You tell me.

Crouching? Crapping? You tell me.

Oh. I guess that’s one way to look at it.

I counted 10 of them around the perimeter of the pond, and not a single goose. Most of the decoys did look like they were crouching in the grass, but I still maintain that the first one appeared to be taking a dump. In any event, the important thing is that they scare off the geese, and I’m sure they’ll do a great job.

After all, they scared the crap out of me.

OK, this one definitely looks more crouchy.

OK, this one definitely looks more crouchy.

*Homage to Guy Fleegman, Galaxy Quest

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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69 Responses to Crouching Tiger, Crapping Coyote

  1. List of X says:

    Actually, a real coyote wouldn’t normally attack a human, but you should watch out whethe the coyote is exhibiting warning signs like foaming mouth, agitated behaviour, or mail-ordering some strange contraption.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elyse says:

    I LOVE this post. Pooping wildlife … We actually had coyotes around us in CT, and they are here in VA (although I’ve never seen one). You don’t have to worry when the real ones come, though. X is right. We have so many deer here in our area (and the requisite geese) that a poop-free walk is a luxury. Or a poop-feast is a luxury for Duncan — yuck!). I welcome the coyotes.

    Loved the shout out to Guy. I recognized the line and got a good belly-laugh!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I wondered if I should give the attribution for that line, but figured not everyone is as with-it as us. I absolutely love that movie.

      We have coyotes all around our place in the country. We rarely see them since they are pretty shy, but sometimes at night, like a couple of weeks ago, there was a pack yipping and howling in the woods so close I was reluctant to go outside.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m so glad you didn’t have your own Revenant movie moment, Peg. From what I hear, the bear is none too kind to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character. A constipated, fake coyote is a much better way to go.

    Like

  4. Blogdramedy says:

    Well, at least you didn’t cry wolf, Peg.
    That would be a different story. *grin*

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So let me get this right, you thought that a plastic decoy coyote, was a real constipated coyote! Haha, this is so funny. Well now you can walk happily around that pond without fear in future…unless of course…nah that wouldn’t happen…well ok I’ll say it…maybe I shouldn’t say it…oh alright I will, unless of course the decoy coyotes end up attracting real coyotes to the area. I can just imagine you going right up to one the real ones now thinking it’s a decoy and taking a selfie with it for the blog. Is it coyote mating season? I would check that if I were you.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I never thought of that. I bet some real coyotes come sniffing around the pond tonight, maybe looking for a little romance in the moonlight. Boy, will THEY be in a for a nasty surprise.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “It’s colder than bedamned here, especially for someone like me who likes to go for nature hikes.”

    Relate much.

    Like

  7. garym6059 says:

    If you ever come in counter with a real coyote there is a good chance they will be scared of you unless they are in a pack, falling for the decoy crapping coyote though is priceless!

    Like

  8. I can’t decide if this is better than tripping over a toilet in the woods. Had you scared and you’re smart to heed the potential danger, even if it was a constipated statue. You sure get some great stuff from your walks, Pegoleg!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dana says:

    Come see my band, “Constipated Coyote”, Friday night at ” Catfish Digby’s West”, in Broadview.

    🙂

    Like

  10. You were right to be frightened. I’ve never heard of anyone witnessing a coyote pooping and living to talk about it. I remember seeing something on Nat Geo about coyotes maintaining dominance by killing anyone who has witnessed their crouched humiliation.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Mary K. says:

    Jeez-nothing exciting ever happens on my walks!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Fertile fur-full topic.
    Odd though, you know how hunters put out duck decoys to lure ducks in…wonder if it works for coyotes? We’re staying tuned for developments

    Like

  13. Even though we have coyotes constantly howling around our house, I’ve never actually seen one. I probably would have thought the statue was a dog. That’s probably what the guy running by thought!

    Like

  14. Very funny! You make me laugh out loud. I love it! Thanks

    Like

  15. I had a similar experience earlier this week, going to an appointment in the dark of a parking lot. I didn’t see the coyote/German shepherd/wolf silhouette until I was right next to it, then I jumped/didn’t jump because it’s never a good idea to startle wildlife.

    Like

  16. You had me going there for a while. Obviously, you survived to type this but I didn’t know how it was going to end. Blame it on lack of sun rays. Decoys stopped working on New Jersey golf courses so they had to hire border collies to chase them away. Have you ever seen a putting green carpeted with geese turds? It’s not pretty and it cuts into their profits.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Seriously? They could just market themselves as having a really challenging course. Water feature? boring. Sand-traps? ho-hum. It takes a REALLY skilled golfer to navigate the goose-poop hazards.

      Like

  17. Oh, my dear sweet Peg, this one had me giggling. Your storytelling skills are top-notch as usual. My walks are pretty boring. I wish to god I could encounter a crapping fake coyote. It might make me walk faster and burn off that Big Mac I had for lunch.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I was so traumatized by the experience that instead of eating the yogurt and apple I’d brought for lunch, I went for a cheeseburger meal (complete with cherry Dilly Bar) at the Dairy Queen to comfort myself. Coyotes 1, Health 0.

      Want to meet at the park for an invigorating walk sometime? I’ll bring a big stick and we can go for fast food afterwards?

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Here in the Big City, we’re more concerned with the pigeons, but locals have dealt with the issue in much the same way. Instead of fake crapping coyotes, people install fake brooding owls. They attach the plastic owls to the roof which is supposed to keep the pigeons away. It works for a time, but the pigeons are too smart for us, apparently. It doesn’t take long before they start landing on the plastic owl’s head.

    Like

  19. Little Voice says:

    You make even the simple things in life very funny…if crapping is simple!

    Like

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  21. PiedType says:

    Similar problems here in the greater Denver burbs. Many coyote encounters along our green belts, creeks, etc. They will attack pets but usually not humans. I say usually because we do get occasional reports of attacks on humans. The advice if confronted is to act as big and loud as possible. As for the goose poop, I’ve seen the problem with our year ’round flocks and it’s awful. If those fake coyotes work, Denver should be investing heavily!

    Like

  22. Nicole Roder says:

    So funny, Peg! I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought a stick was a real snake. I’m sure I would’ve fallen for the coyote statues too. 🙂

    Like

  23. I’m laughing so hard, I just about peed my pants! So glad the coyotes were fakes. But honestly, they look weird. Too fat or something. We get coyotes in our yard sometimes, and they’re skinny little things, smaller than a German Shepherd. Around here, they’re quite scared of people, but are important in keeping the rodent population under control (tons of rodents around here). The only time they spook me is when I’m in bed and a pack of them is howling, sounding like they’re in the front yard (we have a bit of land, with the mowed part between 1 and 2 acres). As for your coyotes’ scaring off the geese, what a great idea. Goose and duck poop are the worst, next to my kid’s diaper once he started to eat food. Happy New Year!

    Like

  24. susielindau says:

    I watched a pack of coyotes scare rabbits out their hutch today. I missed every photo opportunity. Dang! None of them were as still as statues. I need a critter cam!
    I’ve been fooled by plastic owls so don’t feel bad.

    Like

  25. You have confirmed my status as an indoor person. I love watching nature from my living room. We have turkeys, fox, skunks, porcupines, deer and bear who roam around in our backyard. Quite the drama at times. And we have heard coyotes howling all around us on summer nights before I run inside abandoning the backyard fire pit for safety. The only crapping I ever witnessed was when a bear tore our grill off the deck. Mine, not the bear. haha! I hope the weather continues to cooperate so you can keep up your walks and entertain us with your stories.

    Like

  26. Margie says:

    We have geese and coyotes in the field behind us all the time. I fear the geese more than the coyotes! I did a post a while back about Canada’s Bird Brigade. Mess with Canada, and we send in the Canada Goose troops!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      But I thought our countries were friends, Margie. Call off the troops. CALL OFF THE TROOPS!

      Like

      • Margie says:

        We were much closer friends in the old days when we could cross back and forth across the border without a passport!

        Sorry, but we really don’t want our bird troops back! I hear they are quite tasty, though – the roast beef of the sky!

        Like

  27. The Cutter says:

    1. Geese suck.
    2. Apparently, coyotes can actually run faster than road runners in real life.

    Like

  28. Elyse says:

    Peg, I wanted you to see the video in this clip: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/coyote-plays-with-ball-video_5695692be4b086bc1cd59183

    And note the absence of goose poop around THIS pond. I didn’t note any coyote poop, though, either.

    Like

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