Coyote’s Ugly Trash
As you may know, Environmental Science Instructor Dr. Derek Faust has the job of installing, monitoring, and inspecting the trail cameras over at the college outdoor lab. Sometimes there is absolutely nothing to see, while other times we get something surprising like this:
Hilarious as this is, the coyote “busted” for drinking on CPTC property was most likely doing one of two things:
Option 1: Playing Around
Witnesses have recorded coyotes, raccoons, and other stray animals making up toys of some unexpected things, like plastic water bottles, stones, crackly trash, or inedible roadkill. This can be very funny, very annoying—or both. But we tend to forget that once we go to bed the world carries on, and we share space with quite a large ‘Night Crowd’.
Let’s pause and remember that the word coyote comes from the Aztec Nahuatl, cóyotl. It means ‘trickster’ and Old Coyote (Huehuecóyotl) was a reliable mischief-maker deity amongst startled humans. He loved to party, but his tricks often backfired… as we see, he has helped himself to a discarded beer bottle and he doesn’t look like he knows it is empty.
Or is it?
Option 2: Dinner to Go (but not a liquid lunch)
A small prey animal like a mouse or vole may have run inside this bottle and the coyote is planning on a ‘meal to go’. Animals are often trapped or entangled in our tossed away food containers. Maybe some of you are old enough to remember a cautionary comic book Ranger Rick put out some years ago? It was meant to warn us that wildlife can fall into these smooth glass vessels but getting out is harder and they often die.
Picking up litter is not glamorous, but it ensures the Outdoor Lab is safe for humans and wildlife alike.