I was driving back home tonight, turning off East Ave onto Blackstone Blvd, just over a mile-and-a-half from home. The area is generally a little dark—there's a cemetery on one side and a park on the other—and in addition, a road light seemed to be out. In the summer there are often people in the park late into the evening, resulting in a row of cars along the road's edge, but it's been a cold day and an even colder evening, so there was nobody present.
Except for a dog-like shape that crossed the road, paused, and then crossed to the other side.
Having grown up for eighteen years with a succession of three different German Shepherds, I'm pretty finely attuned to their profile. This had a similar profile but something was a bit off, like I was looking at the first cousin of an Alsatian: bushy tail, leaner, just that little bit more lupine. On a hunch I pulled over to look for an owner, saw none, then tracked the animal a bit, and we traded stares....
We've had a few coyote sightings in the towns near Providence, and this of course is a matter of some hand-wringing. In an ironic kind of consistency, the same people who typically engage in NIMBYism about development appear to go NIMBY over coyotes as well. There's a routine controversy over whether to kill them or be more humane, and whether killing them actually decreases or increases their numbers.
My inclination was to do absolutely nothing. The animal probably lived in the expanse of the cemetery, and didn't seem to be straying into “town”. And I would have left it there, except that the divider of Blackstone Blvd. has a wonderful running path that a few people do use in the dark. The last thing I want is to wake up tomorrow and read about an animal attack (it's always slow-news days around here, so you can just imagine what the local media would do with that).
So, with some trepidation, I called 911. They answered immediately and, to his great credit, the sergeant was relaxed about the matter. He seemed to be probing for whether I was hysterical about this. Once I assured him I was not expecting that Something Should Be Done, we agreed that the beast probably lived in the cemetery, had a pleasant exchange, he put me through to inform Animal Control (whose officer was equally relaxed), and the matter ended there.
I've had quite a year where wildlife is concerned (as I discuss at the end of my posting about my sabbatical), but right next door! Now it gets interesting.