Sunday, October 12, 2014


Posted By on Sun, Oct 12, 2014 at 7:57 AM

My newborn son is in his third month of life — the werewolf stage. His appearance is changing right before my eyes, and I can hear his howls late at night.

That may be the coyotes.

click to enlarge SCHROJO - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • schrojo - Shutterstock

I’m spending much more time pacing my living room in the early morning hours these days — the baby makes his own rules. Every night, we hear the howls of wild animals and often stand together in silence, leaning our ears to the window.

Our house backs up to thick brush hanging over Sand Creek’s trickling water. I’ve always been good at sitting still and detecting the movement of grasshoppers and field mice in my peripheral, and the waving grass near the creek is swarming with them. It’s a haven for wild animals.

There have been reports of a fox peering into windows, surprising early risers in our neighborhood. Our neighbor sets with his face to his window every morning trying to turn the tables and startle the fox — he’s retired, and bored.

East of Powers Boulevard, it seems coyotes are the most abundant wild animals. They yip through the night like hyenas, scattering the flocks of sheep in babies’ sweet dreams. The Colorado Division of Wildlife states there are no specific concentrations of coyotes in the Pikes Peak region, and that they don’t usually cluster into one area. But if they left their offices a little more often, they might find the bushes behind my house are rustling with them.

Coyotes are scared of people, for the most part. I’ve seen them dart from bushes with their tails tucked when I run along the Sand Creek Trail, but I can’t imagine they do the same for the snack-sized dogs out there that are ripe for the plucking.

“It’s happened,” says Abbie Walls with the Division of Wildlife. “You want to keep small dogs and cats indoors at night.”

But what about bite-sized, baby humans?

“It’s always hard to predict a wild animal,” Walls says. “They’re curious animals. They don’t have boundaries like we do. We don’t want them getting comfortable around us.”

I don’t want to be comfortable with them, either.

“We call it hazing. Throw sticks, rocks, make noise, clap your hands ... One thing we recommend is carrying a soda can with small rocks in it to make a rattle,” Walls says.

When I walk the trail now, my pockets rattle and my pants sag with the weight of rocks, one hand cradling a newborn, the other cocked and ready. I could be more dangerous than the coyote in this stance — I could throw with the wrong hand.

Pico spent his childhood years in the Springs. Now, as a father, he's seeing the city (and life) in a different light. Follow him on twitter at @DavidXPico.

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