Coyotes getting bolder in ‘burbs

Guess who's coming to dinner?

We were enjoying a Labor Day weekend grilling of fresh salmon with Palisade peach salsa on the wraparound deck of a friend’s house in Centennial, just a few blocks from the retail mecca of Orchard and University. Suddenly, from the wooded ditch behind the house came a strange yipping and whining. It was soon answered by a chorus of howls and yodels from the fields across the way, a patchwork of open space and hedgerows leading to the Highline Canal.

It sounded feral and bloodthirsty and smug all at the same time, like a frat party in its final hour, down to the dregs of the fourth keg and the ketamine just about gone.

"Tri-Delts?" we asked.

"Coyotes," replied our hostess.

"More than one?" we responded, just to be polite, though the surround-sound effect of the crooning made the answer obvious.

"There’s a pack of about twenty that live here," she said.

Yes, folks, the much-debated trapping of coyotes in Greenwood Village has done little to arrest the spread of the wiley critters in the southern suburbs. They are endlessly adaptable, and declaring war on them has only broadened their range. They are growing fat on the poodles and tabbies of the well-heeled who live along the Highline. Judging from the number of distinct voices in the opera we heard, they now travel in large groups and have lost all fear of soccer moms.

It used to be that the neighborhood fretted about foxes, our hostess explained. Now the coyotes have eaten all the foxes. She doesn’t dare let her weiner dog out without supervision, she adds, and the cat’s movements are even more tightly restricted.

The ritzier and more unspoiled the neighborhood, it seems, the more predators per square inch. There’s a lesson here somewhere.

For more on the coyote and its cleverness, visit this page about coyotes in the American West. If you just want to summon some coyotes yourself, a fellow in Parker has the varmint caller of your dreams. -- Alan Prendergast

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts