07/07/06 - posted by Angus Macfarlane - aamacfarlane<at>earthlink.net

It's very easy to forget that there are wild critters out here in the Western Neighborhoods. I was distinctly reminded of this with three recent experiences.

One warm evening after a day of painting my living room I left the front and back doors open to get rid of the paint smell. Meanwhile my neighbor was cooking up an aromatic storm. Following his nose, but finding the wrong house, a raccoon turned up in my dining room.

Another critter-encounter reminded me of my early years in the Sunset when there were quail and bunnys all over Golden Gate park. The influx of feral cats killed off these defenseless animals. It has been decades since I had seen either bunny or quail. One afternoon I was jogging in the Park when a quail darted out of the underbrush and led me on a brief jaunt. I was surprised, but was certain that the jogging bird, zig-zagging in front of me, was indeed a quail.

Finally, late on night I was walking my dog in the Park. Casually trotting along a path underneath a light, unaware of my presence, were two dogs. The smaller one was about 15-20 pounds, the larger maybe 30 pounds. My first thought was that a homeless person was also walking his dogs. I was in the shadows and the animals didn't see me. But I didn't see anybody accompanying the dogs. When I looked back the critters were heading into the underbrush. It was at that instant that I realized I was looking at two coyotes.

Maybe the coyotes will feast on the feral cats and the bunnys and quail will make a come-back in the Park.

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