The fool’s errand.

We’ve been having some coyote drama here of late. The story is familiar all over the Midwest — after years, perhaps a century or more, of never seeing a coyote anywhere but a cowboy movie, the critters are turning up in the suburbs and sometimes not the suburbs at all, as when a pregnant female was found trotting the streets of downtown Detroit a year or two ago. The reporter from the local Fox affiliate about peed his pants squealing about the coyote who came in from “the wild.” He kept repeating the phrase, right through his happy ending, in which the animal was released in Oakland County, i.e., “back into the wild.”

Anyway, they’re well-established in Grosse Pointe now, drawn by the same factors that lure rich people — wide-open spaces, access to clean water and plenty to eat. Unfortunately, one of the things they’ve been eating of late is cats and dogs — killing them, anyway — and this! Can! Not! Stand! So the police are hunting them with shotguns and have already killed one. They, the police, hunt the same time the coyotes do, at dawn and dusk, and try to get a clean shot between the people who like to walk their Labs and Goldens in the area at the same time.

I’m of two minds. Well, no, not really. I’m sympathetic to people who’ve lost their pets, really I am, but on the other hand all that’s going to happen in the long run is, some coyotes will be shot and more will move in, and that will be that.

One of the police chiefs speculated the coyotes moved in during a cold snap a couple of years ago, when they “crossed the ice from Harsen’s Island.” (The geography in question, for the unfamiliar.) Alan scoffed when I told him this and said, “Or else they came up Jefferson Avenue.” That’s approximately what I suggested to the police chief, too. I’m always amazed at how even people who like to think of themselves as outdoorsy don’t really know all that much about it, and I include myself in that number. One of the things I find most interesting about this crazy place is how feral it is, from the plant life to the mammals. I wonder how many feral pit bulls have joined up with coyote gangs in Detroit. Plump pheasant, squirrel too numerous to count, endless prairie joined by easily trottable paved roads? Life would be a dream sh-boom.

I haven’t seen one yet. I’m rarely abroad when the coyotes are, so I have to live through others’ sightings, and what they tell me — the coyote who flew across Lake Shore Road in a couple of strides and then leaped the wall around the Ford House like it was little more than a low hedge, etc. My secret: I’m kind of glad the police are on a fool’s errand. There’s enough domestication in the world.

Bloggage? Not much:

I guess everyone has seen the Wienie Roast Bomber’s undies by now. Tell me, how are full-body scans going to catch this? The explosive was sewn up tight in the crotch. I think the next step in airport security is going to be one of those sniffing machines; we had to go through them before being admitted to the Statue of Liberty a couple of years ago. Each turn took about 15 seconds. Multiply by the number of people on your flight, and have a nice day.

Here’s an interview with David Simon. I haven’t read it yet. Don’t I already know enough about this guy? Nevertheless, I salute anyone willing to give this much time to a pesky reporter.

Off to the shower with me. This is my to-do list today:

Post office

That beer isn’t going to drink itself. Have a good one, all.

Posted at 10:00 am in Current events, Detroit life |

50 responses to “The fool’s errand.”

  1. Dexter said on December 29, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I remember the first time I saw a coyote, between Auburn, Indiana and Butler, Indiana on a country road. I confided in a friend that I swore I saw a coyote but I must be crazy, and he told me they had been hunting them for many years. I was just out of the loop. Since that day about twenty years ago, I have seen many coyotes, crossing the rural roads, mostly. They are prevalent just east of Auburn, I see them all the time there.
    My brother lives in Wauconda, Illinois,and people are vigilant there, because coyotes have eliminated a lot of small dogs already, but maybe cats just don’t make the news, I don’t know. Brother never lets his three pugs run off-leash in the forest preserve anymore, and always watches while they are in the back yard.
    I will read the David Simon thing later, because I love the guy’s work, and besides, he is one of only a few celebs who I ever chatted with one-on-one a few times in the middle of the night on HBO’s “The Wire” boards before “The Wire” blew up so big. Of course, for following celebs these days, all ya gotsta do is jump on Twitter. Tweeting remains the most amazing aspect of the internet experience.

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  2. brian stouder said on December 29, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I won­der how many feral pit bulls have joined up with coy­ote gangs in Detroit.

    Sounds like you’re ready to go with an updated, urban White Fang – or else the next whimsical Pixar/Disney Lady and the Tramp thing.

    What elements would you need? Rough pit bull with the heart of gold, gentle female Lab with steely determination, implaccable bad-guys who must be faced and defeated, and comic relief from the somewhat officious black squirrels, who resent everyone’s incursions onto their turf

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  3. Jim said on December 29, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Dexter, I was working for the Auburn Evening Star around that time, and I remember doing a story on the coyotes. I couldn’t believe it, either — coyotes in northern Indiana? But it was true — they migrated eastward as urbanization (suburbanization, really) encroached on their western habitats.

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  4. coozledad said on December 29, 2009 at 10:41 am

    We’re supposed to be crawling with coyotes out here, and I haven’t seen one yet.
    Feral dogs are just as bad, anyway. Once the panthers start migrating back east along disused rail spurs, maybe they’ll tackle the source of the feral dog problem.

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  5. Dexter said on December 29, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Man versus motor-world, for the nnc-er bicyclists.

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  6. deb said on December 29, 2009 at 10:45 am

    love the inclusion of a ruler in the underpants bomb photo “to provide scale.” and i wonder how long it will take for the term “underpants bomb” to work its way into the national lexicon.

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  7. brian stouder said on December 29, 2009 at 10:51 am

    It also gives a new spin to the saying about ‘going off half-cocked’.

    Also – did I already mention this? – Cass County Indiana may have a prowling cougar

    the lead:

    While eastbound on U.S. 24 at Lake Cicott last week, Joy Harrison of White County saw what she believes was a cougar — something that has not been known to live in this area in more than 150 years. “I know it was a cougar,” she said. “It wasn’t a deer, and it wasn’t a dog, and it wasn’t a coyote.”

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  8. Deborah said on December 29, 2009 at 10:52 am

    We have a couple of coyote dens on our land in Abiquiu. We rarely see them but see their tracks and scat everywhere. I’m enamored with coyotes, and often check out the website, The Daily Coyote.

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  9. Dave said on December 29, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Deer dominating the landscape, coyotes everywhere, fox running around, there’s all kinds of wildlife there that couldn’t have hardly been imagined, circa 1960, 70, or thereabouts. I remember when sighting a deer was a big deal in Central Ohio and environs. Couldn’t have imagined them being sighted in-town, so to speak.

    On the other hand, I remember seeing pheasants in OH and IN and now that’s an extreme rarity, got to go further Midwest to find them.

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  10. MichaelG said on December 29, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Pretty cool, Dexter. A true Flying Pigeon.

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  11. MichaelG said on December 29, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Not impossible to be a cougar, I suppose, Brian, but probably a bobcat.

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  12. coozledad said on December 29, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I’ve seen a few cougars at the salad bar at Vesuvio’s Pizza. Fortunately no scat.

    Sorry. Just had to.

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  13. shabbat mater said on December 29, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I doubt it was a cougar on the side of the road. A two-bit ho, maybe. Cougars prowl around in sports bars.

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  14. nancy said on December 29, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Further Midwest to find pheasant? One crossed Mack Avenue in front of my car the other day. Suburban hunters come down to the ‘hood to tune up their bird dogs before the season begins.

    They really are cool birds. One imported species whose residence here hasn’t been an environmental disaster.

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  15. Little Bird said on December 29, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Anyone remember the cougar in the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago? I’m still not sure how it got that far into the city. I figure it had plenty to live on though, what with all the garbage, the squirrels and the city rats. The rats probably put up too much of a fight though.

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  16. coozledad said on December 29, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Wild turkeys are a kind of pheasant, but are a little more sensitive to environmental pressures like habitat loss, so if an imported species starts to fill a vacant or distressed ecological niche, it’s probably for the good.

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  17. nancy said on December 29, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Turkeys have been successfully reintroduced in Michigan, and now it’s quite common to see flocks of them in rural and semi-rural areas. We rented a house on the Au Sable river when Kate was little, and the instructions for feeding the turkeys were inside one of the kitchen cabinets. They roam in harems — one male, a bunch of females — and make amusing noises.

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  18. paddyo' said on December 29, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Coyote hysteria isn’t limited to Midwestern/Eastern climes. Some of the ‘burbs around Denver have trigger-happy cops chasing them whenever a few beloved kitties and doggies go missing.

    Never mind that those ‘burbs push a little more into wildlife habitat (the “urban-wildland interface,” in forest-planner-speak) each year. And never mind that wildlife biologists have long since studied how coyotes adjust to all the gunning by producing bigger litters of pups next go-round.

    Ahh, but this IS America, dang it, and evidently there is something satisfyin’ about shootin’ them varmints dead, and hangin’ their carcasses on rural fence lines, as has happened over the decades in cattle/sheep country across the West . . .

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  19. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 29, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Coyotes and bobcats never left. Deer “vanished” and came back, bison were extirpated, but coyotes have always been around. Just not so many as now. Ditto bobcats.

    Cook County, IL — 2000 to 2006 study:

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  20. adrianne said on December 29, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Suburbia is providing a perfect habitat for coyotes – they particularly love the old dairy farm next to us that’s gone to seed. I can hear them howling at night occasionally. No disappearing pooches that I know of – dog owners are pretty careful around here.

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  21. Peter said on December 29, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago has a great deal of wildlife – I saw a wolf, coyote, and deer in there in the ’60’s – it’s how I got my Nature merit badge – more nature in that cemetery than I found in Michigan.

    Rosehill butts up against the UP (formerly C&NW) tracks that reaches into Wisconsin. Animals go on the tracks and just follow them until they get to a nice patch of woods – like a cemetery. The Roscoe Village cougar did the same thing along the Milwaukee Road tracks by my house – then they get into the forest preserve/riverbank, which leads down to Roscoe Village.

    Speaking of Rosehill – I wanted to be buried there facing the tracks, and I wanted my headstone to have a flashing sign – time, temp, name, dates, but they weren’t keen on that. I might try that again, now that there’s solar panels and LED displays!

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  22. brian stouder said on December 29, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I wanted my head­stone to have a flash­ing sign — time, temp, name, dates, but they weren’t keen on that.

    Sounds like they could cycle in some advertising: “Sam’s Pizza – it’s to die for”

    And speaking of fool’s erands – here’s yet another Toyota story which might be a tasty helping of Detroit schadenfreude

    the lead:

    It took Bob Becker by surprise. As he approached an intersection on New York City’s West End Avenue, not far from his home, he began to brake his 2010 Toyota Prius. But then the hybrid hit a pothole and suddenly, says Becker, it felt like the brakes weren’t working.
    “It was a sensation of losing control,” said the 39-year-old human resources executive. It was all the more disconcerting as the light had changed and pedestrians were starting to cross the street. “The first time it happened on that corner it scared the hell out of me. I wasn’t sure I could stop in time.” Becker was able to slam back down on the brake pedal just in time to avoid an accident. But in the weeks to come, the problem with his Prius repeated itself over and over, to the point he now has to prepare in advance when he’s coming up on an intersection, driving through traffic or exiting a freeway.

    So far, neither Toyota nor the NHTSA has anything official to say (other than “Judas Priest!”, presumeably)

    It can’t be a good idea to have KERS in a road car, I say

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  23. Jeff Borden said on December 29, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    If coyotes help thin the deer population, they’re welcome around here any time. We were almost rear-ended over the holiday while driving in Ohio. A nice driver on a county road had stopped to allow a band of six to eight deer to cross the highway. The car behind us skidded to a stop with about a micrometer to spare. Deer are lovely creatures, but man, there are way too many of them.

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  24. Jen said on December 29, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I’ve seen pheasant on the side of the road around here, and I swear I saw turkeys between Auburn and Fort Wayne one day. Unfortunately, my husband was driving and didn’t see them so everyone just thinks I’m crazy. I have, however, seen many turkeys in the Grand Rapids area – my aunt and uncle live out in the woods near Sparta, Mich., and get turkeys in their backyard all the time.

    As for coyotes, never seen one, but a friend of mine in high school lived in rural Waterloo north of Auburn and saw one in his backyard once – he had photos! They’re definitely lurking around this area.

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  25. whitebeard said on December 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    We hear coyotes howling all the time in Northwest Connecticut. Either that or Senator Leiberman is looking for Republican voters

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  26. Dexter said on December 29, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    It’s still a treat to see wild turkeys but I have not truly stored all the data in my brain yet…I have to ask myself “turkeys or pheasants?” before I can sort out what I just saw. Still, kicking up a large covey of quail is the ultimate nature-rush…scared the beejeezuss outta me!
    This video doesn’t match the volume that a scared-up covey makes .

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  27. Jeff Borden said on December 29, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Hey ladies!

    I see the handsome, debonair, polished and thoughtful Karl Rove is back on the market after a quiet divorce. What woman would not want to find herself enfolded in the manly arms of the fellow W. nicknamed “turdblossom?” He could introduce you to Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, too.

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  28. LAMary said on December 29, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    I always suspected Karl was the guy that ex-Marine professional escort fake reporter guy was visiting at the White House. Isn’t gay marriage just about to become legal in DC?
    Coyotes are common here five minutes from downtown LA.I see them in the morning strolling down the street. Occasionally someone’s cat or Yorkie disappears, but for the most part people know to be aware of small pets’ whereabouts. Of course, as Paddy-o said, the folks in the most outlying, newly developed areas are the ones who freak out the most at wildlife. I think the only time I was a little put off by coyotes presence was when I saw two of them standing on a well manicured lawn across the street from my son’s school at about 7 am. They were unfazed by all the kids on the street. It was a high school, so it’s unlikely anyone would become breakfast, but the brazeness is was startling.
    Using the convention of the shoe bomber name, my sons refer to this new guy as the underpants bomber, so yes, it has begun. It makes sense.

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  29. ROgirl said on December 29, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Karl and Rush could double date.

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  30. LAMary said on December 29, 2009 at 3:14 pm–

    This guy was a genius.

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  31. jcburns said on December 29, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Uh…go Bobcats? A quick search reveals most of the schools with ‘Coyotes’ as their mascot are west of, well, Wichita Falls, at least.

    Go Grosse Pointe Coyotes!

    The important chunk of the David Simon interview is that he explains socialism…or at least it tries to get past the stigma introduced on that word. Have group insurance of any kind? Socialism! You’re soaking in it!

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  32. brian stouder said on December 29, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    This woman is a nitwit

    But about a year ago, Bedford’s homemaking skills went into overdrive. She began stockpiling canned food, and converted a spare bedroom into a giant storage facility. The trunk of each of her family’s cars got its own 72-hour emergency kit—giant Tupperware containers full of iodine, beef jerky, emergency blankets, and even a blood-clotting agent designed for the battle-wounded. Bedford started thinking about an escape plan in case her family needed to leave in a hurry, and she and her husband set aside packed suitcases and cash. Then, for the first time in her life, Bedford went to a gun range and shot a .22 handgun. Now she regularly takes her two young children, 7 and 10, to target practice. “Over the last two years, I started feeling more and more unsettled about everything I was seeing, and I started thinking, ‘What if we were in the same boat?'” says Bedford, 49.

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  33. LAMary said on December 29, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Brian, I laughed outloud at the word nitwit. It’s an underappreciated word.

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  34. moe99 said on December 29, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Cougar caught in Seattle’s Discovery Park:

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  35. moe99 said on December 29, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    wrt the underpants bomber, the best quote I’ve read about this business: “I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks.”

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  36. brian stouder said on December 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Mary – the cartoon of Kissinger screwing the world gave me a laugh, too! (That, and the Nance’s turn of phrase where she said “Off to the shower with me.” I guess we missed out on the contest entry forms for that grand prize) Moe – your cougar pic stopped me cold. First I saw the big cat, and then the apparent collar on the big cat, and then I took note of the man, and then of the big dog….and THEN I read the caption. Good stuff

    It’s the rare day that nn.c doesn’t provide me several chuckles and/or guffaws

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  37. coozledad said on December 29, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    From “Tender Master” by Darby Rove and Al Goldman ,Jr.
    “Things had been tense between us before, but I put it down to the agonizingly long days spent huddling in a scrum with the President, the Vice president, and that Guckert boy. The Twister mat and the cinnammon flavored massage oil lay unused in the chiffarobe, for days, weeks, at a time, and finally, I auctioned them off with the squeaky toys on ebay. He was leaving his customary boiled egg and live prawn toast untouched at breakfast, and retreating more and more into the “situation room” at the end of every day. Thank heaven Uncle Ashy* often came by to play with the children. He came by a lot really. Maybe a little too often. But he was like a father to them, except for the whole Crisco thing.
    I suppose the sad truth only became apparent to me one afternoon while I was drowning the puppies in eau de vie for dinner. There were horrible noises from the situation room. The sound of supple flesh being painfully stung by damp towels, punctuated by the most horrible language. Even from outside I could hear Karl furiously shouting “We’ll fuck him like he’s never been fucked before! Give me those Goddamn dice!” He’d told me before about his adolescent gambling problem, and I was not going to let the oath stop me from going through that door. Not this time.
    But it was unlocked. I just gently pushed the door and beheld a scene that would have shocked me to the core, if I hadn’t already walked in on Cheney and that Guckert boy engaged in similar activities. There was the Vice President, as usual, standing on my Hepplewhite dining chair suspended from the ceiling by a rope attached to an iron ring atop his leather mask, nearly naked except for his polyvinyl chloride briefs. The Guckert boy was pulling hot towels from the rice cooker I’d been frantically trying to locate just minutes before…
    And Karl…
    Karl was hunched over the Risk board, the dice still in his hand, wearing the same liederhosen we’d selected together for our wedding night. I’d never seen him so sweaty…

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  38. LAMary said on December 29, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Aw, now I have to get those images out of my mind, Cooz. I’ve got the day off and I have to return stuff and the whole time I’ll be thinking about Cheney and Rove in nasty situations. Ew.

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  39. Kevin Knuth said on December 29, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I was at an airport (maybe LAX) a few years ago and they used the “puffer” scanner. The girl in the mini-skirt with no panties on was not happy!

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  40. Dorothy said on December 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    I’ve seen a single coyote twice since we moved here last January, and we hear them sometimes at night when the windows are open. They are the main reason we leash walk our dogs each time we take them outside. And my husband saw a bobcat several months ago when he was out walking the dogs. The screams of either animal are enough to turn me into a scared nitwit!

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  41. brian stouder said on December 29, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Hah!! Although, Dorothy – I’d say people who are smart enough to know when to be scared are several notches above nitwittery

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  42. brian stouder said on December 29, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    I read the David Simon interview, and it was interesting stuff. The interviewer’s style took a little getting used to; or maybe it was simply the editing. Several times the interviewer simply interrupts Simon when he’s still making a point. And of course, you get the F-bomb; between the interviewer and Mr Simon, they must have said “fuck” (and variations) more than 30 times.

    Plus, the word “decimate” comes up – and I think it got used properly!

    The first time I read an interview with The Wire guy, I didn’t like him at all. He seemed petty, and needlessly vindictive toward his old newspaper colleagues, but then I saw him on C-SPAN, and (more or less) “got it”. Indeed, The Wire is a show that I never became invested in. The one episode I ever saw from beginning to end featured several (more than 4) guys getting “chalked” in particularly terrible fashion, and that was it for me.

    OK – now I’ll go onto posting-suspension, since seem to be in out-of-control troll mode, today. Happy New Year, everybody!

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  43. Sherrie said on December 29, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Here on North Padre Island, coyotes are a common sight. We’ve seen them on the beach scavenging for food, as well as along some of the streets. At one point, there was one living in the overgrown empty lot next door to us. The community has a leash law, so missing dogs are not a problem. And, if you value your cat, you don’t let it go outside. They become coyote snacks.

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  44. beb said on December 29, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Moe’s link to Bruce Schneier’s website
    is worth repeating. He is an authority on security and provides common sense insights into security and the panties bomber.

    NBC news last night mentioned the bomb sniffer machines. Seems the air in airports is too polluted to get a good read for explosives.

    While I think I saw a coyote on Belle Island a year back or so I haven’t seen a lot of wild life in Detroit. Except for the Oppossum that comes out every so often to feed on the food we put out for the wild cats. There’s nothing like stepping on what seems like a 9″ rat’s tail to give you a start. Thank god it was just a ‘possum.

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  45. basset said on December 29, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Lots of coyotes here in Nashville, particularly where we live along the riverbank. Put a motion-trigger camera out back in the fall and saw coyote, possum, and fox along with the neighbors’ cat and dog; we hear coyotes howling across the river pretty regularly, if I see one on our side of the water he’s mine. Scoped .22 target rifle and it’s only 33 yards to the treeline… heh.

    Mrs. Basset, Basset Jr., and I were in Auburn just this past Sunday night – stayed at the La Quinta off 69 on our way home from Michigan. One of these days, we’ll get to the museums.

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  46. brian stouder said on December 30, 2009 at 9:29 am

    pssst, Basset – if I wasn’t on posting suspension, I’d remark that if you want to see those Kruse museums, you better hurry. The one constant in my lifetime is that one Kruse or another gets in money/legal trouble every few years. Right now they seem to be entangled in their own fouled up web of sales/loans (to themselves)/nonpayment of proceeds, etc. One wonders how they keep the lights on up there. Just saying!

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  47. Vince said on December 30, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    A few years ago we had a coyote who wanted a break from the cold.
    It was late.
    So he hopped on a light rail train at the airport and curled up in a seat.

    No one freaked out. Wildlife specialists caught him and took him outside the fence and let him go.
    First, they took a picture:

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  48. Jeff Borden said on December 30, 2009 at 2:18 pm


    I’ll bet the coyote was better behaved than some of the humans I see on the L in Chicago, lol. We had a coyote amble into a convenience store in the Loop a couple of years ago, where he plopped down in front of the cooler holding soft drinks and Snapple. I don’t recall exactly, but think the poor guy was knocked out with a tranquilizer, removed and released back into the wild.

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  49. Jen said on December 30, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    That coyote picture was on LOLcats yesterday, actually. I thought it was kind of weird that we were talking about coyotes, then I clicked on the LOLcats site and there was a coyote!

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  50. paddyo' said on December 30, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Following up on yesterday’s X-ray-vision-&-other-security-measures thread, there’s a nice, blunt column on Slate today, “Show some balls”:

    Coyote-wise, folks in eastern Canada had quite a start a few weeks ago when a Canadian pop singer of some local/regional renown was out walking or jogging in a national park up there and actually was attacked fatally by one or two coyotes. Entirely out of character for the species, and it led, of course, to tracking down the presumed culprits and a bit of villagers-with-torches talk about the only good coyotes being dead ones, etc. It was a tragic and astoundingly rare occurrence, but there it is.

    I’m in the camp that says, well, they were here first (pre-Columbus/Mayflower/conquistadores/etc.) and unless they’re attacking infants in the back yard or nailing kids walking to the school bus stop, live and let live.

    Ahh, but we do so love our guns, poisons and steel leg-hold traps, don’t we . . .

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