In a reply to my last post, The Return Hypothesis:We Are More Than We Think, Sangit Agnihotri writes, “Very true. Yet it is now so difficult to return to nature after building up a technocratic civilization.”

This comment is not only a common response to my hypothesis but also crucial. If it cannot be addressed creatively, then the hypothesis is dead in the water. Let’s extend Sangit’s observation even further by raising related questions.

  • How can we humans return to the cycle of life when most of us are urban dwellers surrounded by concrete?

  • How can we incorporate the untamed aspects of ourselves when there is so little left of the wild?

  • Must we go back to being hunter/gatherers in some romantic version of the noble savage in order to make this hypothesis valid?

  • Why is a deep connection with the eco-fields so important to our spiritual evolution?

 To address these questions in a beginning way, I want to tell the story of the coywolf, arguably the most successful land mammal on Earth. Maybe I exaggerate, but let’s see.

A Fence Post Strategy Backfires On Humans

The coywolf narrative begins for me in the 1940’s. As a boy I saw miles of fence posts with beautiful animals hung on each post. When I asked about the tragic sight, I was told these were coyotes and needed to be eradicated. But why kill them, I asked, and why put them on the fence posts afterwards? The men who hunted explained to me that the coyotes were a nuisance, and other coyotes would see their kind nailed to the posts and would learn a lesson. Such explanations fired my already questioning nature.

I examined the creatures. I noticed that some were smaller and some, larger. The larger ones especially captivated my eight-year-old eye. Even to this day I can see their beautiful bodies, long legs, large ears and reddish coat. Their fur was a mixture of buff, tawny, cinnamon, and brown streaking along the long body and reaching an apex on a black tipped tail. Hanging on the fence post, they stretched out taller than I was, at least from black nose to black tipped tail.

Such was the practice in rural ranching and farming in Northwest Texas where the grizzly, buffalo, and wolf populations were completely wiped out in my parents generation. The Southern Plains had been basically wild until the turn of the 20th Century. Now, as a boy I witnessed the next step in erasing the untamed not only from the ecoscape but also from human consciousness. The so-called coyotes were simply next on the blacklist. Such was the advance of civilization where I lived. Whether it was forests, water, or even mountains humans engaged a strategy of mowing the landscape down to the nub, then allowing the soil to be blown or washed away. In most cases well-meaning people did not know that their version of civilization was killing an essential, spiritual side of themselves.

Only a funny thing happened on the way to extinction: the strategy failed with coyotes. The coyotes had their own strategy, their own intelligence, an intelligence greater than themselves. And this intelligence may be exactly what we need at this moment in the planet’s narrative to guide us humans back into the life cycle.

The Coywolf’s Evolutionary Strategy

The coyotes I saw as a boy on the fence posts were evolving into a hybrid breed. The small ones on the fence posts were likely coyotes, but the larger ones with the long legs and large ears were a hybrid of the coyotes and the Mexican gray wolf. This hybrid had the cleverness and individuality of the coyote, the strength of the wolf, the wolf’s capacity for pack or community, and the coyote’s ability to monitor its number of offspring. When the ranchers in my area sought to eradicate the coyotes, the coyotes chose two strategies. First, they expanded their litters of puppies. The more they were hung on the fence posts, the more they reproduced. As the dangers lessened, the litters shrank, an important point for humans to take in. Second, they joined with the gray and eventually red wolves to produce a super canid capable of thriving in urban life.

This hybrid coywolf then migrated over the ensuing decades from Texas to Canada and New England where it bred further with Eastern wolves to create one of the most successful land mammals on the planet today.

Call Of The Urban Wild

Back to Sangit’s question. How can we return to a natural order when we have built an urban, techie culture? Is it possible that the coywolf can call us to a balancing both our natural, untamed aspects with our urbanized selves? Is it possible for the best of our western civilized aspects to lie down with the indigenous past? Are the coywolves nature’s way of calling us to human hybridization? Are they telling us we can actually adapt to urban life and grow stronger through this  hybridization? 

Wildlife ecologists at Ohio State University studied coyote populations in Chicago over a seven-year period (2000–2007) and found that coyotes have adapted well to living in densely populated urban environments while largely avoiding contact with humans. Since this study was published, it is likely that some of the creatures they were studying were actually coywolfs. But, for the moment, I will refer to them as coyotes. (

They found that urban coyotes tend to live longer than their rural counterparts, kill rodents and small pets, and live anywhere from parks to industrial areas to suburbia. The researchers estimated that there are up to 2,000 coyotes living in the greater Chicago area and that this circumstance may well apply to many other urban areas in North America. Certainly, that is the case in the Austin area where I live where a large coyote/coywolf population that balances suburban white tail deer and feral cats through predation. (

Unlike rural coyotes and coywolves, urban dwellers have a longer lifespan and tend to live in higher densities, but rarely attack humans , according to one report. This point is important because the urban myth is that coyotes and coywolves are likely to attack children and runners. The governor of Texas carries a gun with him and shoots at the animals as he takes his daily run since he views them as a threat and nuisance rather than a possible model of evolution. The coywolves are urban/wild and need to be treated with considerable awareness and respect, as well as energetic connection.  They are beautiful and somewhat approachable but still wild.

The animals generally are nocturnal and prey upon “rabbits, rats, geese, fruit, insects and family pets”. One study found that urban coyotes had similar antibodies and pathogens as coyotes in general, and had a survival rate in the city of 72% for any given year, much higher than their rural counterparts. Reports of mysterious, even spiritual encounters, between humans and coywolves suggest a growing respect is possible.(

Bottom line: the coyote/coywolf population continues to adapt to urban life, live with large human populations, contribute to the balancing of the eco-fields, and still maintain a basic element of the wild. This research jolts and points us to a possible paradigm shift for humans.

Is it possible for us to hear the call of becoming hybrid humans who integrate the wild with the civilized in creating a new civilization? Is the evolutionary development of the coy wolf one of nature’s way of developing human hybrids? The elements of this deeply evolutionary and spiritual call for humans to return are implicit in this blog.

In my next post I will flesh out in a more explicit way some of the characteristics of the human hybrids who learn from the coywolf.  Then, I will examine other instances in current evolution in which the Sacred Mystery calls  us to develop a new human hybrid.


  1. Thank You for recognizing these important Teachers Will. I am often examining myself in the mirror of Coyote, and find them so much more than simply Tricksters. I am part of this same Circle of Humans we call Earthtribe, and feel my deep Connection with the Earth, Sky and All Our Relations. I am a Pipe Carrier in our Tradition. I am also a hunter.

    I consider myself an ethical, intelligent, and adaptable man/hunter, Coyote is a good Teacher of this. Hunting has become an essential part of my Connection to the Food that nourishes me, the Earth that supports me, and finding my place in the Greater Circle.

    I was brought up in connection to the “outdoors” as a place of wondrous gifts, infinite opportunity, and deadly consequences. Part of my heritage was learning to hunt, first learning the skills, then honoring the rewards. At age 15, when it was very important for me to fit in and become a Man, I became the first (ever) young man in our family to state that the killing was too hard for me, and that I would do my hunting with a camera instead of a gun. Over the next few years I was left to my own ways, as there were no teachers for this “killing is too hard” way of being.

    I found my way to the Earthtribe in the moment when I had three sons of my own, all under age 8, that needed more teachers than just me to learn how to live in Connection, the oldest just now turned 30.

    For all of my experience of Connection, there was a “wildness” that was missing. I’ve had lots of adventures that held the potential for deadly consequences. But I was giving my sons dubious half-lessons of how to embrace their own wildness. I held my breath for several seasons until my youngest son finally heard that rock climbing without ropes was a senseless risk.

    At age 50 I began to hunt with a gun again. The rewards of Connecting with the Deer, and recognizing their Sacrifice for my Nourishment was profound…My unavoidable Connection with Coyote in that Circle leaves my with more Hunger than Nourishment.

    I find that Coyote and I are competitor/predators, we hunt the same meat. Is there Plenty for All? Yes! in both physical and Spiritual terms…yet I can not shake my need to test myself in this Relationship…it is not a fair competition, if they win, I go home, if I win, they don’t go home. I have killed Coyote and eaten Coyote, it does not hold the same Nourishment for me. The Nourishment is in the pursuit, I have had Coyote “in the crosshairs” and simply watched in awe of their majesty, and have left frustrated that they beat me somehow..

    This is The Reflection that Coyote offers me. It is my “Wildness”, my unpredictable dangerous self that I would rather kill than live with. It is an unfair saddle that I am trying to put on them, they don’t deserve to carry my shadow…but their wildness is inside me too…is that Connection? I offer my Prayers of Thanks to all my Teachers, Coyote’s Lessons are hard for me.

    1. My husband would take me with him to Spur Ranch 30 miles south of Marfa, Texas. The deer were so tame that one only stood in the bed of the pickup and waited. The coyotes were strung along the barbed-wire fences, slaughtered because they would hunt, as well. They needed the rabbits, sheep, new born calves and deer to survive. The slaughter by the human predator to find meat and prevent the coyote from finding its sustenance leaves me contemplating the spiritual aspect of this scene. The predator in man spreads into so many areas. If something is in conflict with our desires, then we hunt/kill. This inner shadow is so deep for we are animals also. However, we reflect, so we have choices. I wonder what my inner choices are? How do I survive? How do I make room for other species, or do I? Many questions…

  2. I, too, remember the coyotes strung along the fences, although I saw them in deep southwest Texas ranch land. It always impacted me with grief and was a powerful reminder of death and destruction.
    Your reflective questions challenge me, for I grew into adulthood in the metropolitan area of Houston. As an adult, I have moved into a small country town that is now attracting more and more people from the surrounding larger communities. People seem to be seeking a quieter, more reflective life. I and others are planting gardens, looking at water collection and solar panels in order to adapt to over population and damage to the planet. Is that anywhere enough for the spirit in each of us? The connection to the Creative Force, the Sacred Mystery, appears to be very buried in our busy technological lives. Your questions call me toward awareness and lead to more questions.

    1. Reginah Brown Dove WaterSpirit

      So True, Lillie dear. This is how I got to New Mexico 30 years ago. Now people are bumping into each other…the roads are like Bumper cars at an amusement park. I spend time each day, sometimes twice, walking along the Rio Grande River with Blanka, my little dog. We watch the Sandhill cranes visit for the Winter and if we luck out, we see an Egret! The ducks are our little friends albeit I think Blanka would like a substantial lunch.

        11:25 PM (13 hours ago)

        to Will, Yost
        Will I have just been re-reading your blog on the coywolf and again feel the acute pain I suffered every time I would see these beautiful animals hanging on the posts around my family ranch land. Even worse were the stories bragged by the ranchers of how they trapped and beat the wolves (that’s what they called them ) so that they would scream and keep others away.
        It broke my heart then and still.

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