“What the Urban Coyote Can Teach Us About Nature in Cities
CHARLES R. WOLFE. FEB 12, 2013
Successful integration of nature and the city is a hallmark of sustainability. Sometimes it occurs without effort or provocation, while other times it results from projects or plans. In both instances, the natural and artificial merge, morph and redefine urban reality going forward.
Last week, on a Seattle winter evening, my dog and I stood at a neighborhood street corner in a spontaneous meeting with an urban coyote who, for several moments, owned my neighborhood pavement with conviction. Upon rounding a corner and coming face-to-face, the coyote cast a long stare (with those “I am not a pet” eyes I once saw in Africa), turned around, and moved on. For this feral, walkable urbanist, the city sidewalk was clearly as customary a migration route as wooded paths or the open plain.
Several recent articles address the growing presence of coyotes in urban areas as an indicator of changing relationships between the city and larger, surrounding ecosystems. Whether considered pests or admirable interlopers, they are increasingly sharing (PDF) our places and spaces.
A landscape architect friend explained this integration as a merger of surrounding nature with urban culture and physical form, two things that need not be as distinct as we might expect. In my recent experience, no longer separate from the city, an animal corridor aligned with the sidewalk, a mainstay of urban transportation. I saw a spontaneous integration of nature and the city without any “urban sustainability plan” in place to allow indigenous wildlife safe passage on city streets.”
Photo: Charles R. Wolfe