Coyote was not the problem
February 19, 2008
What a shame that people are afraid of a little, 30-pound wild dog. “Larry” was a young coyote who chose to spend his winter at Copper Mountain.
Hundreds of people on skis and snowboards passed through his backyard everyday; he watched them come and go. At night he watched the grooming machines go up and down the mountains. He brefriended the men that ran them and they gave him a name. He watched the patrol come at daylight and before and go about their business.
Small wonder he became accustomed to people and saw no reason to fear them. We not join the fun? He ran along side of a few skiers and nipped at their skis; never in his wildest dream did he plan on having them for dinner.
He joined a friend of mine on a run through Enchanted Forest. My friend was concerned, not for his own safety, but that he might hurt Larry’s legs with his skis. I looked for Larry on several occasions hoping that I, too, might share the experience, but unfortunately, I only saw him one time at a distance. He was behaving admirably and looked amazingly harmless.
Unfortunately, people began to notice who didn’t have his best interest in mind. He stole a ski pole and chewed the handle. He was accused of tearing a sleeve on a jacket and the stories got bigger and better as they were passed along.
His crimes were small, misdemeanors at best; not at all uncommon for a domestic puppy, but Larry was born wild, therefore “He must be sick.”
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He was quickly found “guilty” and sentenced to death by the Division of Wildlife (DOW). He was “relocated,” so they told the ambassadors. The fact is he was killed by the DOW, the very people who are paid to protect him. (Relocated perhaps to the Dumpster minus his head, which was shipped off to be tested in hopes of proving their case against him.) We should hang our heads in shame: 131 ski runs at Copper, all terrorized by one little old coyote.
I have skied at Copper for 10 seasons, somewhere in excess of 900 days. Have I ever been concerned for my safety? You bet! I’ve been knocked down more times than I care to count, equipment broken and defaced, clothing ripped, bruises and sore spots galore.
My wife was hit a few years ago and now enjoys limited skiing on two permanently injured knees. I have three close friends who have suffered multiple broken ribs and one serious back injury. Rare is the person who skis often and has never been hit at least once.
Yet, I know of no one who has been injured by a coyote or any other wildlife while skiing. The problem of course is inconsiderate people. Perhaps we should shift our safety priorities to the real problem, people who refuse to read and heed the skier’s responsibility code.
They are the ones responsible for untold injuries, hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital bills and sometimes even death, yet very little is done to remove them from the mountain. Perhaps it’s because they buy lift tickets, rent condos and drink over priced beer. Need I say more? I think Larry got a bad rap.