Louisville Magazine

JUL 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 7.16 37 A BIT DEEPER Wild Tings By Anne Marshall Illustration by Rachael Sinclair A few bold coyotes in Cherokee Park may not be afraid of you. That's a problem. Strategizing and fnger-crossing probably won't save our quest. Wildlife and magazine deadlines rarely operate in sync, National Geographic excluded. No matter. I meet Jason Nally, a private-lands biologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, on a sunny spring morning at Cherokee Park in an attempt to spot a small group of coyotes that have broken a decades-long peace accord between wild dogs and humans, the canines' aggressive deeds snatching newspaper and TV headlines along the way. "Tere's some people who are very, very afraid and very, very angry right now," Nally says before we start a hike through the park. Since April, what's believed to be three coyotes have attacked three dogs, growled at adults and scared the heck out of neighbors living in the hilly, lush land between Big Rock Park and the Louisville Presbyterian Teological Seminary. (It's likely the same group of coyotes that has been reported near St. Louis Cemetery in the Highlands and Seneca Park.) Residents who've lived in the area for decades say they've never experienced such troublesome behavior from coyotes, animals that usually humbly blend into the urban ecosystem. Dressed in his uniform of khaki and green, Nally leads the way on a rocky trail along Beargrass Creek. Te boyish, jovial 41-year-old with hints of gray in his red beard hopes for a face-to-face with the coyotes. "I want to see how the animal acts if I don't back away," he says. Coyotes' instincts should alert them to slink away from people. For whatever reason — and Nally has his theories — this group doesn't always do that. We begin our journey at 7:45. Te animals have been most frequently spotted between 7 and 11 in the morning. Nally stops. "Tat's a potential den site," he says, pointing to a desk- drawer-sized gap in some rocks. We peer in. Nothing. Cherokee Park acts as Costco for coyotes: squirrels, mice and chipmunks in bulk for eating, water to drink and hollow tree trunks or dense thickets galore for shelter. No wonder they love it here. And for urban coyotes, city life — with its cars, bicycles and joggers — is wallpaper. "It really doesn't freak them out to have us around," Nally says. Tey do their thing. We do ours. But it's becoming pretty clear this rogue threesome needs to remember how to coexist in peace. Hero was no match for the coyote lurking near her yard one night in late May. Te 10-year-old Australian shepherd mix that Gail Dehli rescued from the Humane Society had just been let out one last time for the night. Teir home backs up to Big Rock and Hero's always itching to explore and herd creatures. An electronic fence usually thwarts her curiosity. Dehli heard barking. It was 10 p.m., too dark to see what critter sparked "They're the most athletic little 30-pound dog you could imagine"

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