Coyotes reminder that West still wild

By Grant McGee: Local Columnist

I’m not going to choose sides when it comes to ranchers and coyotes. That’s another one of those political hot potatoes. Let’s just say I admire the coyote for expanding its range despite being shot, trapped, poisoned and dodging the growth of civilization across the North American continent.

The first coyote I saw in the wild was in Michigan. I was a teenager, it was late at night and the critter was standing by the side of the road. I thought it was cool to see something I considered part of the West in the East.

I came face to face with a coyote in Roswell. I used to get up and go for a two-mile jog before the sun came up. Running past a trailer park on the north side of town I heard something move behind me. I stopped and turned around. There under a streetlight stood a full-grown coyote. He looked at me, I looked at him.

I did what any normal human being would do when faced with a similar situation, I growled at him. He raised his head a bit. Before he turned to slowly trot away I thought I detected an expression from him that seemed to say, “Dude, you don’t know the language.”

Telling the tale at my radio job that morning I got a quick education on how folks in the West feel about coyotes. I got a handful of serious inquiries from callers as to exactly where I saw him so they could go shoot him, one caller admonished me for not calling animal control and another caller was perturbed because now that I talked about the coyote people would be going off looking to shoot it.

The encounter prompted my friend Kent, Bard of the Pecos, to tell of the pet coyote he had growing up in Elida. He spoke of what a good dog she was, but she was continually restless. When she wasn’t sleeping she did a lot of running around the farmhouse and pacing.

“Everything was fine until she killed one of momma’s banty roosters, then I had to get rid of her,” he said. They gave her to a man who kept her to use her scent to trap and kill other coyotes.

I lived in a small Arizona town in the mid-1990s. One year the lack of rain was pretty severe. The drought drove coyote packs into the town. In the wee hours before dawn you’d be awakened by a pack yipping as it made its way through the alleyways looking for garbage and water. Some cats and small dogs disappeared.

The presence of coyotes reminds newcomers to the West that it’s still wild out here. As the cities push out into the deserts and plains, those in their new homes on the edges have run-ins with coyotes.

I’m not naïve. I know about the calves and lambs lost, the missing pets and other coyote problems. I suppose the battle between man and coyote will rage for a long time.

I’ve heard packs of coyotes calling south of Clovis, west of Roswell, in the mountains around Taos, the deserts of West Texas and southern Arizona. There’s just something about that sound that speaks of the West, something that speaks of the wild side of life.

I think it might be sad to never hear that again.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: