Coyotes of rural Virginia
As pups, the Cootes Store Coyotes were raised by a hunter. They are free-roaming these days, but they still interact with the person who raised them (as well as a domestic dog who is protective of them!) It has been gift to observe them through the seasons as they hunt and play and show curiosity about the world around them.

In early August, I was walking through our back woods in rural Virginia, and I came upon a group of coyotes. It was an amazing experience to look these creatures in the eye and see their intelligence and curiosity staring back. Over the next number of weeks, I observed the coyotes inhabiting an in-between space - somewhere between wild and domestic. While clearly very acculturated to human/rural life and human interactions, they also have their own will and purposes.

Now in October, after two months of watching and learning, I can now distinguish each of the four coyotes as individuals. Based on markings and personality, I think of them as Darksnout, Ringo, Smiley and Buff. Each day reveals new behaviors. I’ve witnessed them snarfing up forest berries and snapping up rodents. I’ve found them drowsing in an old field of creeping myrtle. And at first light, I have a front row show for the energetic morning rumpus – an all out coyote sparring match. Their presence has enchanted our little woods, and every morning I spend watching them feels like a gift.
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