Sunday, January 9, 2011

No, They Are Not Friendly

I went on my "usual" hike today, at Rancho San Antonio, where I seem to find myself several times a week. Rancho San Antonio is a bay area county park with acres and acres of trails and beautiful views of the entire bay on a clear day. Vegetation includes bay laurels, oaks, ferns, and lots of poison oak. This time of year, in the middle of the rainy season, new green shoots are bursting through last year's dead brown stalks.

Sometimes you are lucky enough to see wildlife - wild turkeys, deer, gophers and birds of all kinds are usually in close proximity, and not afraid of humans. And sometimes you see rarer species, such as coyotes stalking gopher prey or hawks circling above, as I was lucky enough to see today.

As I was heading up the last part of the trail to the very top of the hill with the fantastic view of the entire bay area, a couple was making their way down the muddy trail. They had just spotted the coyote on the hill, when, referring to the coyote, the wife said to the husband "Do you think he's friendly?"

Yes, I know he looks like your neighbor's friendly german shepherd, but a coyote is a WILD animal. While they have become accustomed to humans in their environment, they are NOT domesticated. They have very sharp teeth. For your own safety, please, do not pet the coyote.

And even though the shiny green leaves have fallen, and the tall, slender, upright stalks look innocuous, like any other forest scrub in winter, I also suggest staying on the trail. Unless, of course, you like being itchy.

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