How to spot a coyote on campus

How to spot a coyote on campus

February 1, 2019

Seen any coyotes on campus lately?

If you answered no, you’re kidding yourself. From Grad to the Rabb Steps, coyotes abound. You see them in dining halls, in classrooms, in the library and in the dorms. The fact of the matter is, at this time of year, coyotes are everywhere and if you’re not seeing them then you probably just don’t know where to look.

So, how do you identify a coyote? Though these creatures are perhaps best known for howling at the moon, you’re more likely to be awakened late at night by the howls of party-goers than the yips and yaps of the Canis Iatrans. This is because, to make their way onto college campuses, these wily creatures have forsaken their famous howl and given new meaning to the phrase “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Instead of listening, you must peel your eyes; they’re hiding in plain sight.

Like their close relative, the domesticated dog, coyotes on campus are almost always accompanied by a human companion. But don’t worry, if you see a leashed beast on campus it’s probably still okay to pet it (check with the owner first)—people don’t generally keep coyotes as pets.

When searching for coyotes on campus, instead of looking for a leash-bearing human we’re looking for a much subtler marking: a small red patch on the coyote-owner’s left shoulder. Stitched with red maple leaves and an outline of the arctic circle, this insignia is a pretty sure sign that you’ve spotted a coyote.

“But where?” you might still ask.

Look up, just slightly. There, lying limp on the shoulders of a student, is a dog—a coyote.

Yep, that’s right, every one of your peers who walks through campus dressed like an arctic explorer with a Canada Goose coat bears the pelt of a coyote on their shoulders. And while the Canada Goose brand is not alone in using coyote furs in their clothing, on cold-climate college campuses the brand is surprisingly prevalent.

From October to April, whenever there is a slight chill in the air, the Canada Goose coyotes prowl campus. They lurk under the guise of “function”—the brand’s website claiming, “we are a function-first company”—but with a thousand-dollar price tag, the red shoulder patch and canine-lined hood are little more than fashion.

Now, don’t get me wrong, coyotes are very warm creatures and from my experience playing with their cute, domesticated cousins, I can only imagine that these arctic dogs’ fur provides something magical against the frigid conditions it has evolved to protect them from.

However, the brand’s claims of function do not live up to the high price tag or the ethical wishy-washiness of wearing a dog on your hood. In an age of science and manufacturing, alternatives to coyote fur are both equally as insulating and considerably less expensive.

Waltham’s winter winds be damned—I do not need to appropriate a coyote and empty my bank account to face them. Nobody does.

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