Hidden Wilderness: A Coyote Story

Hidden Wilderness: A Coyote Story

Posted on October 17 by Claire Gilchrist in Fiction, Kids, Recent Releases
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My fascination with coyotes and inspiration for the book Street Shadows all began late one night when I was biking home from a friend’s house.  I was almost home, passing through a dark cemetery with my dog Baker running easily by my side.  I had done this route many times and was pedaling on autopilot, lost in thought.

 

Suddenly, a yelp caught my attention and I saw a grey shape surge out of the darkness, heading straight toward Baker.  The yelp had come from Baker, who, terrified, raced away from the thing and away from me.  He did a lap of the cemetery, just managing to stay out of reach of the shape, before turning to head back toward me.  As he drew closer, fear made me get off my bike and lift it above my head, yelling incomprehensibly.  A few moments later, the shape retreated into the darkness, and I fled from the cemetery with Baker.  Later, once my heart had stopped racing and I was at home in front of my computer, I realized what it was: a coyote.  But what was an animal as big as this doing in the heart of such a big city?  Was it lost?  Could it hurt me?

           

This encounter initially surprised me because I’d always drawn a line between “urban” and “wild.”  I love nature, and I’ve spent immeasurable hours getting myself and my family out of the city and into the wilderness to places so remote we didn’t see another human for a week.  What I hadn’t realized until this moment was that there is another wilderness — a hidden wilderness — right in the heart of the busiest, largest cities across North America.  In my hometown of Vancouver, Canada, experts estimate that there are hundreds of coyotes making their homes in the city, and thousands more in the surrounding suburbs.  They live complex and interesting lives right in our figurative (and literal!) backyards.  Many of us have passed within a few feet of a coyote without even noticing it was there!

 

The research I did into coyotes gave me a better appreciation for our urban wilderness.  I now understand that the coyote that chased my dog was most likely defending young pups, and that it was probably threatened by my off-leash dog, who weighs about twice as much as it does.  After this experience, I see more signs of the teeming wildlife that surrounds me every day, even when I’m not out in the wilderness.  The line I previously drew between urban and wild is now blurry.

             

I am delighted to share my carefully researched novel about urban coyotes, Street Shadows, with young readers, giving them a glimpse into this hidden world.  It is my hope that readers will see their cities in a new light and gain a new understanding and appreciation of our animal neighbours.

 

 

Claire Gilchrist

Posted by Kendra on October 9, 2018
Claire Gilchrist photo

Claire Gilchrist

Claire Gilchrist is a writer, teacher, and animal lover. She grew to love coyotes through her work with the Stanley Park Ecological Society in Vancouver, B.C., where she educated residents about co-existing with coyotes.