The UBC Coyote needs help. In the environment currently existing on this campus, this animal has no safe home.
Relocation may be an option, but the status quo cannot continue. A coyote is not a tourist attraction, and its treatment by this campus shames us all.
Since first encountering this animal in January 2013 I have had the pleasure of several encounters, most often alone on the peripheries of campus.
In those days this animal commanded a respect that couldn’t be felt untinged by fear, there was the impression of a free-running, untamed force. It moved with strength and elegance then.
It has been dismaying to see it increasingly looked on as little more than a stray dog. On our last two encounters I’ve been moved at the now sad sight of this once-strong coyote. There is no longer any predatory strength, no bearing of fangs or bounding through the fog, no howls, not even a bark. Now it slinks, balding tail between its legs.
Our campus has brought this coyote to heel as little more than a tourist attraction, something to gawk at dumbly between classes, and, worse yet, to throw rocks at.
When we last met, this coyote that once stirred a primeval feeling within, once stood as a reminder of the wild country this campus was before the university came, was slinking by the bike racks at Irving K Library, a few feet from some students out for a cigarette.
When I drew my camera, fixed the lens on him, and stepped closer the only reaction was a startled glance. The vacant eyes held nothing of the old howl.
To see so closely a subject on which I would have turned my lens only from a distance months before replaced my happiness at our latest meeting with stark sadness.
Wondering what droplet would blur my viewfinder in the absence of rain, I realized that it was a tear.
To keep it from becoming a torrent as he was run off by a portly man hurling rocks and abuse, was more difficult than stemming the fear running through me when first we met. I felt profoundly that I failed a friend for not having the lens or the courage to bear witness to this latest abuse.
While it was once a pleasure to see him roam campus it is clear there is no place for him. Rocks thrown and hands extended invite an unnecessary barbarity, the only question --
will it be a whimpering starvation in some ditch, or the sharp crack of a park ranger’s rifle after a rock thrown or hand extended causes a final bearing of fangs?
Those of us who say we are friends must look for another path, before the die is cast. We must find him a better home.