Daybreak After July 4th

We humans live our lives often forgetting about the other creatures who are around. On the 4th, there were beastly loud and continuous firework blasts and scary lights in the skies, judging from the reactions of some dogs and some people. Our activities affect the myriad of animals, wild and not wild, who mostly inconspicuously inhabit our city with us. You can see our effect when you are able to zero-in on an animal’s sudden change of routine behavior.

Out-door concerts in the parks also affect animals. They affect me: I find that they are too loud to be near for too long, and the noise prevents me from doing other things. The noise is very loud and continuous over multiple days — it’s a long period of time. Throngs of people upset the equilibrium of a normally calmer park which the animals are used to. The fences put up, say in Golden Gate Park, to make sure everyone who goes to the concerts pays their way, in fact often separate animals from their families and each other, and from their food and water sources, with no way to go around or under them. Caring humans who are in-the-know try hard to fix problems caused by interminable fences, but maybe, might it not be better to have the concerts in an enclosed space, such as Cow Palace, where the disruption wouldn’t be quite so brutal to all other forms of life?

In San Francisco for the 4th, besides the big fireworks in the Bay which were put on by the City itself, people put on their own fireworks displays throughout the city, some on the periphery of parks.  I did not go to these celebrations, so I was unable to see any coyote’s reaction to all of it.

But the first thing I saw in the morning of the 5th was the used fireworks debris strewn all over the intersection of a road, mostly along the curbs, next to a park. A burning odor permeated the area, still. The noise had been tremendous and lasted for many hours, and I was told that crowds of people had gathered in the parks to watch — another disruption for wildlife.

Then I glimpsed the little coyote who I normally see sitting calmly on a bluff overlooking her domain or engaging in apparently happy play in the wee hours of the morning. This coyote was not at its usual spot or engaging in its usual activities. In fact, the coyote hurried stiffly from I-know-not-where to the edge of the park. It looked worried and preoccupied and didn’t even glance my way. It looked far out in all directions. And then it abruptly turned and hurried at a brisk trot, very purposefully, past me and away, down several streets and out of sight, rather than remaining, as was its routine, to watch the passers-by.  Is it coincidental that July 4th was the previous night? Or might this animal’s anxious (my word) behavior be tied to the disruptive (my word) activity of the previous evening? You decide.

Last year an observer told me that, after five days of heavy concerts-in-the-park, the little family of 5 coyotes she had been watching regularly suddenly vanished never to be seen again. The family probably just took off.  Maybe we should think about our human impacts a little more seriously?

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