Valentine’s Day is here and romance is in the air. Or is it? Not if you pay attention to the animals.

A few nights ago as I was settling in to sleep I heard a commotion outside. I went to the window, opening it to hear better, and saw a pack of coyotes at the end of my driveway. I knew they were in the area, we hear them at night, but rarely have I seen them so this was unusual. There was a lot of growling followed by occasional yelping and I sensed a fight was about to ensue. I called to my husband to come see but he was dozing off and disinterested. The growling and yelping went on for several minutes, followed by sounds of aggressive attack and it was very unsettling.

I know wild animals are part of nature but to witness any form of violence, even in the animal kingdom, sickens me. They were about 100 feet away from me and there’s a large bush in front so I couldn’t focus on what was happening (I wear glasses for distance) but given the sounds I heard I fully expected to find a bloodied animal carcass at the end of my driveway the next morning. Eventually they took the fight into the woods and the next morning I was surprised to see no evidence of the fight at all.

Later in the day I was hiking with a friend and mentioned the scene outside my window and she immediately advised that the coyotes were in fact, mating. ( Sweet mother of Mary, really? Actually, I should’ve recognized the signs….my husband and I engage in a similar ritual, growling, yelping, you know foreplay, every third Thursday of the months that start with ‘J’) Apparently February is mating season for coyotes, who knew?

I later googled coyote mating rituals and sure enough, the aggression I overheard is quite natural. I’m guessing the growling is the male and the yelping is the female? ((talk about rough sex) That fact aside I could never have imagined that the coyote mating ritual was so violent (ok, maybe violent is the wrong word but what I heard was anything but consentual) On the other hand I suppose if they have to wait for the one month in the year to get lucky they’re probably pretty randy by the time it does come.

And what happens if February comes and she’s not ‘in the mood?’ Can they defer the ‘appointment’ or is the opportunity lost until next year? (Although judging by the growling I heard I’m betting she doesn’t have much of a choice)

I guess it just startled me because I naively assumed animals would have some tenderness in their mating ritual, like humans do. You see images of deer nuzzling together, or lobsters claw in claw walking along the ocean floor. Do they toss all the niceties aside when it’s whoopie time….wham bam, thank you Mam? (I’m guessing too that the whole concept of Valentines Day is lost on the animal kingdom?) No sweet-talk, no flowers and candy, just get down to the business of procreation, belch, and move on.   I guess for animals the mating ritual is purely functional, or maybe they enjoy the aggression (some like it rough)

Witnessing nature in this way was an eye-opener for me. Not every being is warm and fuzzy. In fact, the females in the animal world are sadly deprived of romance and helpless to change it. (On the other hand, they also only have to put out once a year… you could put up with anything once a year) And in hindsight the male coyotes get off pretty easy because despite their ‘rough play’, they pretty much walk away unscathed after the deed is done. There are some animals that kill the male after mating, mmmmmm, all-in-all, not necessarily a bad idea…… (is that to ensure they don’t fool around with another?)

Whatever your ritual for love, I hope you have fun, and romance, and shower that love on another. And if you must growl and yelp, keep it to a minimum,,,,,and for heaven’s sake, don’t do it on my driveway.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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