So down the street and around the corner from where I live, there is a park. It’s not a wimpy little green space, but rather acres and acres of pure sub-urban paradise, replete with soccer fields, tennis courts and a water park that attracts the Barney Army like it was some kind of aquatic crack house. On the far edge, a large hill provided sledding in the winter, and the whole thing has walking paths throughout like varicose veins of some recreational beast.
I was walking there one day when I noticed a construction crew busy digging a hole. Not being aware of any new projects, I stopped to inquire. Being highly efficient government employees, they immediately stopped what they were doing to talk to me.
“Hi guys,” I said, “What are you building?”
“It’s a warning horn. You know, kind of like the ones they use for warning people about lightning strikes.”
“I thought we had one of those already.”
“This one is different,” Said the worker who wore a red ballcap with the municipal logo, so I assumed he was in charge. " It warns when there are coyotes in the area."
“Coyotes? That’s a problem? I didn’t know we had coyotes around here.” Actually, I did, because I’d seen them before. I actually like coyotes—they’re just dogs that don’t bother anyone by begging for food at the table or using body spray.
“Yeah, they’re a big problem. They come from over there.” The guy in the hardhat waved his arm over towards the sledding hill. “Parents are worried that they’re gonna snatch their kids during a soccer game.” Each Saturday morning, the park filled with legions of offspring playing soccer while parents without a clue cheer them on. I paused for a moment and imagined how much fun a pack of coyotes raiding the fields would be. Too bad coyotes don’t hunt in packs.
“Oh. So will it work on other animals? Like dogs?”
“No,” the one wearing the ballcap said. “It only works on wild dogs. Something to do with the way their brains generate electricity or something. I’m not sure on how it works. It was invented in Australia, where they use it to detect dingoes.”
“What about cats?”
“No, it doesn’t work on them for some reason.”
“So it won’t work on bobcats?”
“I guess not. Why, do we have bobcats round here?”
“Sure. I just saw one the other day. They’re called Felinis Concoctipus. They’re pretty vicious, but they only hunt small animals, like rabbits and aldermen. They’ve always lived around here, unlike the coyotes, which are alien to the area.”
“You mean the coyotes are like illegal aliens?” The one wearing the hardhat asked. “Maybe they just need a guest worker program.” He thought that was pretty funny.
“Oh, we’ll tell them that back in the Wildlife Control Office,” the one wearing the ballcap said. Yes, my municipality is deluded enough to think that wildlife can be controlled by a municipal office. I figured I had wasted enough taxpayer money, so I let them go back to work.
So a few weeks later, a particularly nice fall day came. It was on a Saturday, and the weather was perfect. Not too hot, the trees still had their brightly colored leaves, and the sky was devoid of clouds. I grabbed a leash for the BFD and we went to the park.
All four soccer fields were packed with kids. The field closest to me had no concept of offsides, so there were gangs of similarly clad kids attacking the ball. Over on the far field, I could see that someone had been inserting hockey rules by allowing full body checks. The smell of grape sports drink skipped across the breeze.
I took in this scene as I slowly made my way across the park. I admired the peaceful parkscape as I walked closer and closer to the coyote warning tower. As I got close, the peace was shattered by a loud horn, and a disembodied electronic voice shouted “Warning! Warning! Warning! Coyotes are in the area!”
Immediately, all of the soccer referees blew their whistles. The kids closest to me ignored them, and continued to chase after the ball as if it were the coyote culprit. Over in the far field, action mostly stopped, except for one kid who continued to tackle random players. On the sidelines, parents stood up and started hastily stuffing juiceboxes and tubes of steroids disguised to look like Jell-O into diaper bags and duffels.
As the warning continued to blare, the mass of kids and parents began to obscure whatever remained of the games. A mad rush of parents toward the cars left a trail of folding seats, coffee cups and the occasional beer bong across the grass. From the parking lot, a quick-witted person who was obviously someone’s grandpa retrieved what appeared to be a shotgun. Sound spanked the fleeing crowd as he fired a shot in the air.
I guess the vet wasn’t lying when she told us that the BFD had some dingo bred into him. And I guess dingo is simply Australian for coyote.
On Monday, the local newspaper carried a story explaining that due to the disruption of Saturday''s soccer games, the Wildlife Control Office would provide armed guards for the rest of the season.