News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Reston Coyotes Only at 'Stage 3' of Aggressiveness; 'Stage 4' Involves Cutting In Line at Starbucks

coyote.jpegThe Reston Association hosted a talk on the area's growing coyote population on Friday, and our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston, was there:

Who knew? Coyotes bear a STRIKING resemblance to the idyllic 1950s suburbanites best portrayed by Ward and June Cleaver!

It's Friday night in our mauve wonderland, and Reston's wildlife aficionados are out in force. While the terminally hip and edgy pour into our gritty urban core for some swinging cougar action at Jackson's, more than 50 coyote fans tiptoe through the tulip poplars to pack the Nature House for a Coyotes 101 lecture by Shannon Pederson of the Wildlife Society. Dressed in coonskin cap and deerskin breeches, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston craftily infiltrates this audience, one so overloaded with baby boomers as to be the stuff of a BiCO nightmare.

Snark aside for half a paragraph, we laud Ms. Pederson for providing a very informative, useful lecture that stresses the fact that coyotes are clever, are adaptable, and are here to stay. "Think of them as bears," she advises, when it comes to common-sense practices for co-existing with them, i.e., don't let cats and dogs roam outdoors, don't leave pet food outside, and don't even think of feeding them, as some nitwits apparently do. Restonians will sleep better knowing that on the seven-step scale of coyote aggressiveness, we are only at Stage 3, where they are seen mid-day but not yet chasing spandexed cyclists fleeing for their lives down the Lawyers Road velodrome.

As for the coyote lifestyle, well, humans could do worse than emulate their traditional family values. When the young 'uns are at home, Ward Coyote is hard at work every day to put food on the table. June Coyote, resplendent in her string of pearls as she cleans the den (get it?), looks after Wally Coyote and his younger brother. But when June exclaims, "Ward, I'm worried about the Beaver!", we suspect she is referring not to their mischievous younger son Theodore Coyote but rather to their orthodontically-challenged neighbor by the Glade stream valley whose unkempt dwelling is bringing down local property values and just begging for a surprise visit by an RA covenants inspector.

With coyotes spotted everywhere from the environs of Lake Anne and Lake Newport up north to the Glade down south (14 sightings in all), audience members are eager to learn how to identify them. Some hilarious confusion ensues on how to distinguish a coyote from a fox. Easy -- if the critter is wearing a skeleton costume and prancing through our gritty urban core, it ain't a coyote!

The best news of all comes at the end of the evening's session and warms The Peasant's heart. Not only will coyotes eat those WMD (weapons of mass defecation) Canadian geese -- they will also hunt the hordes of antlered invaders with names like Bambi and Thumper, thus helping to stabilize our population of four-legged terrorists who have been conducting jihadi raids on The Peasant's garden of earthly delights. We can only conclude that this coyote invasion is sounding better and better by the minute!
If Reston's amalgamation of coyotes are currently only at Stage 3 of the seven-step scale of coyote aggressiveness, we wonder what the remaining stages might look like:
  • Stage 4: Cutting in line at Starbucks, taking inappropriate amounts of time to consider beverage size options

  • Stage 5: Using non-approved building materials in the construction of their dens (easily recognizable by the bed of white stones marking their entrance)

  • Stage 6: Loudly demanding that any new cellphone towers be camouflaged to resemble giant fire hydrants; addition of a pup menu at the Macaroni Grill

  • Stage 7: Staging a run for the RA Board on a no-to-foxes platform; then "going rogue" after losing and creating their own shadow DRB, dispensing violations at will.
Chilling. The actual official stages of coyote aggression, as passed along by several Confidential Restonian Operatives, are only slightly less scary.


  1. For those of you looking for the entire scale, here's what it looks like according to the coyote experts at UC-Davis. Again, we're at stage 3.

    1. Increase in coyotes on streets and in yards at night

    2. Increase in coyotes approaching adults and/or taking pets at night

    3. Coyotes on streets, and in parks and yards, in early morning/late afternoon

    4. Coyotes chasing or taking pets in daytime

    5. Coyotes attacking and taking pets on leash or near owners; chasing joggers, bicyclists, other adults

    6. Coyotes seen in and around children’s play areas, school grounds, and parks in midday

    7. Coyotes acting aggressively toward adults in midday

    I suggest people take a very close look at the UC-Davis article. It makes very interesting reading, especially when it comes to preventing attacks from escalating.

  2. I picked up some more information from a PDF published by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Some very chilling stuff here:

    "Be aware that coyotes in other eastern states have attacked and severely injured small toddlers when left unattended for even a short period of time. Although the likelihood of such an attack is very remote, never leave small children unattended in areas frequented by coyotes."

    Bet that little fact wasn't mentioned on Friday night. And here's another one they most likely glossed over:

    "The coyote is legally classified as a nuisance species and may be killed at anytime, except coyotes may not be killed with a gun, firearm, or other weapon on Sunday. "

    So, if your toddler is attacked on a Sunday by a coyotes, be sure to use your bare hands when acting in self-defense.

  3. I've seen coyotes early in the morning (though not recently), which seems to jibe with that Stage 3 assessment.

    Apparently coyotes are now in something like 95 percent of all urban/suburban areas of the country, so this isn't unique to Reston, or even Virginia.

  4. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonFebruary 7, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    Anon 1:53:

    Actually, there was some mention of coyotes and children's safety. Ms. Pederson mentioned attacks that had occurred on small children in Canada and last year in Rye, NY, a suburb north of New York City, where two children were attacked in four days. I had read about those incidents in Rye; professional trappers eventually shot the coyote. Ms. Pederson said that coyotes see children younger than 10 as potential prey because of their small size. Her bottom-line advice was that residents should try to make all coyotes afraid of humans by showing aggressive behavior towards them (shouting, throwing rocks, etc.) so that coyotes will steer clear of humans.

    I didn't mention this in the article, but to demonstrate how easily coyotes can acclimate to human presence, Ms. Pederson showed a photo of a coyote resting comfortably on a seat inside the Seattle mass transit system.

  5. Peasant 3:37:

    Thanks for your report. When I first caught wind of the event, I was disappointed I wouldn't be able to attend. Thank you for taking the time to go and write this up.

    Still, there are a couple of things from the report that trouble me:

    1. The statement that the "coyotes are here to stay." I think that's a real problem, given that folks are prone to feed the coyotes and think of them as friendly fuzzy creatures instead of wild animals. Sure, we're only at level 3 right now, but I'm concerned this will escalate. And the line about how we should think about coyotes like they were bears wasn't exactly reassuring.

    2. I suspect the coyotes are here because of the deer. The coyotes are too small to take down an adult, but young fawns are apparently especially vulnerable. Looks like we should have sanctioned deer hunts on private property when we had the chance.

    I like living in Reston, and I like the wooded areas. Unfortunately, enjoying the woods also comes with the responsibility to effectively manage species that might migrate into our area. Simply living in harmony with nature isn't going to cut it.

  6. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonFebruary 7, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Anon 4:27

    Thank you; glad to provide some useful information as well as perhaps a touch of humor.

    According to Ms. Pederson, coyotes can and do take down adult deer, but will normally do so only when there is absolutely nothing else to eat, such as in the middle of winter. As she put it, coyotes are great opportunists and will go for whatever food is easiest to get, whether it's pet food left outside or fruit that has fallen from a tree (they are omnivores).

    Her comment about people feeding coyotes was not about Reston per se. And thinking about them like bears was, I believe, more a reference to all of us just adopting smart habits so that coyotes will not start to associate a human settlement as a food source.

  7. Great job Peasant! Informative and funny...great end of the day read.

  8. The "common-sense practice" is not to "co-exist with them" at all, but to exterminate the brutes.

    But in this as in so many other things, common sense takes a back seat when the liberals are in charge. Feral animals and feral humans roam our streets, and liberals will do no more than wring their hands and advocate "co-existence".

  9. That's why Reston is so starved of fine dining outlets like Romanao's Macaroni Grill and stuffed full of "social" government-owned housing and even more section 8 housing.

    This place called Reston in not so fair Fairfax is becoming, well, brutal.

  10. Anon 7:23, you're acting like howling packs of coyotes are terrorizing Reston. I've never seen a coyote here ever. Apparently they're around, so it makes sense to know what are the smart things to do -- not exactly "hand wringing".

    Thanks Peasant for the information -- I was surprised when I saw that RA was going to host that talk; I had no idea there had been sightings. Only 14, but still.

  11. Jeez, Peasant, whenever I hear of worries about the Beaver, it usually means a trip to the doctor's office for a shot of penicillin.

    I've never heard it called Coyotes before. Could you mean Cooties? Nah. It couldn't be that. Cooties aren't treated with penicillin.

  12. For $100,000,000, I'll take care of your Coyote problem.

  13. @Anon 7:51,

    Who invited a troll to a talk about coyotes?

  14. Anon 9:30, it makes sense to know what are the smart things to do, and the smart thing to do is kill them all, not snivel about co-existing with them.

  15. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonFebruary 8, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    Anon 9:52, that might be harder and more expensive than you think. The town of Rye, NY, spent $36,000 in police overtime and professional trappers to kill ONE coyote. Even if all the coyotes in Reston were eliminated, there would be nothing to stop other coyotes from taking up this newly unclaimed territory. You would need a region-wide approach involving all the counties of northern Virginia, and I think in the current budget crunch that would be unlikely.

    He's not called Wiley Coyote for nothing.

  16. I see that you haven't been attending to your Looney Tunes, Peasant.

  17. Anon 9:52, I guess you think all the coyotes are going to helpfully gather in one spot so someone can kill them.

    Here in the real world, real problems are a little more complex than in the black-and-white world where we can just erase what we don't like.

  18. Bob Simon's Metallic Alter EgoFebruary 8, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    Here's a modest proposal: let's build a varmint-proof fence to surround Reston, and boom -- no more deer, no more foxes, no more coyotes. It worked great for the Aussies!

  19. Peasant, have the coyotes moved into urban areas because the deer are here? Would they noticeably reduce the deer population, or would there need to be so many coyotes that they'd be more of a problem than the deer had been?

  20. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonFebruary 8, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    The Peasant is not a wildlife expert, so I can't answer your first question. As for the second question about reducing the deer population, Ms. Pederson of the Wildlife Society said it is more likely coyotes will help stabilize the deer population at its current level, rather than reduce it. As she put it, coyotes are not the silver bullet for deer control.

    And yes, Wile E., I've been amiss in looking at Looney Tunes.

  21. LOL at the halfwits who think it would be too hard to exterminate the coyotes. In the past, coyotes have been kept effectively under control with *18th century weapons*. If we "can't" do it today, it's not because we truly can't but because we're not trying -- or some political obstacle stands in the way (cough, sniveling liberals, cough).

  22. Thomas Paine In The AssFebruary 8, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    Hey, anon 5:39 (the troll) at long last shows his true colors that in reality he's a flaming liberal. His solution is to spend our taxpayer dollars with abandon on a problem that doesn't exist.

    I used to think he was Sarah Palin in disguise, but my god, he's really just Nancy Pelosi in drag.

  23. Hudgins

    Section 8 housing


    Lake Anne!


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