Denver's public-art program has attracted plenty of attention over the last year, first with "Mustang" and then "National Velvet" capturing the public's eye — and ire. And now Greenwood Village has come up with its own artistic oeuvre: pink painted coyotes.
As part of its continuing battle against an influx of howling critters, the suburb hired a $20,000 animal-control expert to pick off particularly menacing coyotes, then bought a pair of paintball guns in an effort to scare them off. Officers have patrolled the parks every morning for the past two weeks and have nailed two animals and missed four others, according to Greenwood Village police lieutenant Joe Harvey. "It's the same stuff that kids use in paintball wars," he explains. "It explodes, and a little bit of paint comes out on the animals. It causes a welt, but no permanent damage."
But a Greenwood Village police officer did cause permanent damage on Friday and Saturday, taking out one coyote in Monaco Park that Harvey describes as "aggressive" and another near Tommy Davis Park that had been threatening pets.
The Friday shooting inspired a protest from residents and animal-rights activists who are trying to save a second Monaco Park coyote who lives in the park, an animal they've named Limpy.
The protesters, including Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians, would prefer that the city keep paintballing coyotes rather than kill them. "They really just went through the motions on that, Rosmarino says. "Their program was only two weeks." (For all the sad pics, go to www.letlimpylive.org.)
But on Monday, the city decided to extend its paintball program for at least three more weeks. The biggest problem, Harvey explains, is that paintball guns aren't very accurate weapons. "We were able to see a lot of coyotes but were only successful in hitting two of them. We'll give it more time before we decide whether it is a good use of resources."
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Denver has seen its share of wily coyotes over the past year, but has no plans to imitate Greenwood Village's tactics. "We're not paintballing our coyotes," says Jill McGranahan, spokeswoman for the Department of Parks and Recreation. "We have been very effective in our hazing and have had lots of people walking around with noisemakers and air horns and beating pans together." Compared to that, paintballing "seems awfully mean."
Hazing coyotes has kept Denver's parks department busy, but not too busy to celebrate the completion earlier this month of the Mile High Loop, a 5K gravel path that winds its way past scenic, historic sites in City Park. The trail will be studded by eight Mile High Markers denoting spots that are exactly 5,280 feet above sea level, but those markers haven't yet been manufactured, McGranahan says.
In the meantime, the $412,000 trail, four years in the making, will be feted by the City Park Alliance at an open house from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, at the Pavilion at City Park — a spot that may or may not be a mile high, and may or may not be coyote-free.
Pressing engagement: Pakistan is hardly the safest place to travel these days, what with a lethal car bombing in Peshawar this past weekend, not to mention ongoing battles between the government and the Taliban. So what is Amy Herdy doing there? A former journalist for Channel 9 and the Denver Post who's now the advisor for www.CUIndependent.com, the University of Colorado at Boulder's online newspaper, she's meeting with professional journalists and students under the auspices of the U.S. State Department in an attempt to foster better media coverage in Pakistan. Read her wide-ranging travel dispatches on the Latest Word blog at westword.com.