Three coyote pups as they were first discovered in a Livingston Campus parking lot.

Pu-Pu-Pu-Puppy Power!!!

By Jessica Teal

It"s whenever you"re not looking for it that the best stuff is found. The RR Team was driving rather aimlessly through Livingston on a recent summer late night and for once, we were not seeking coyotes, foxes, or any other sort of creature. We were just looking to reflect on the day"s discoveries, which is getting pretty difficult to do these days what with our flocks of fervent admirers, amateur park rangers, and would-be paranormalists always in tow, stalking our every move. Yeah, it"s a tough gig, being a Rutgers Rarities celebrity, always playing to the crowd, being a media all-star and all. Well, anyway, as we turned into Lot 44 and I was regaling Co-Investigator Ray with yet another exciting recollection of how I "almost" once worked for the Thomas A. Edison Papers Society (housed next to the Day Care on Livingston), Ray"s bored but keen eyes noted some little animals at play in the middle of the lot. "Ahhh" Said I, "Kittens, yum!- and look how they're licking each other!" "Not kittens", replied Ray "Coyotes."

Indeed, my too-cool-for-school friend was correct. It was three very small, very fuzzy coyote pups nuzzling and pouncing on each other in the middle of Rutgers Lot #44 on Livingston Campus, about five yards from the dumpsters and the edge of the woods. The pups were absolutely adorable and clearly 100% urbanized as they barely flinched at our car"s approach. They even seemed to like to stare into the headlights as we slowly circled them, recording their frolics. "Where are the parents?", we wondered. "don't they realize that the day care facilities aren"t open late at night?". As we debated on the adult coyotes" probable whereabouts and the likelihood that they would make an appearance some time soon, we noted the approach of the RU security cops who patrol the campus very thoroughly at night and who are starting to feel like old friends to the Rutgers Rarities Team. "I see you found the coyotes puppies" the approaching officer said. As it turns out the RU cops see these little guys all the time in this lot and often keep an eye out for them and their larger brethren on the Livingston roads. "We try to protect them", the cop responded when the RR Team asked him if the police ever do anything about the coyotes. This answer suited us just fine as we also feel that these creatures deserve to have their semi-natural home on campus, free from the potential dangers of the human element.

We were fortunate enough to be able to record the pups for nearly an hour before they trotted back into the woods. While we never even caught a glimpse of the parents, we realized how easy it was to miss seeing these woodland dwellers as they blended right into the shrubbery. This gave us more food for thought on the topic of the pups" safety. A lot of people, myself included, speed up and down these roads with little thought of any greater danger than a berserk deer streaking by or a cop hiding out. Now there's another and, for me at least, greater reason to take it slow on Livingston. These puppies are absolutely fearless about crossing, running, or even playing in the streets. They seem to have an unnatural affinity for the pavement and like to sprawl in the lot and on the street. They do sort of trot off if you pull up really close to them, within a few feet, but they don't always bolt from oncoming cars and one even nestled up in a small ditch right next to the shoulder of the road and seemed to take a quick light snooze in the manner of a cat. I actually approached this one on foot, thinking that if I got very close and startled the little coyote, he or she would probably retreat further inland away from the road and I was right. As I approached the pup, it opened its eyes and moved a few steps back. It then curled back up, nose to tail, and regarded me with a disdainful, sleepy eye before snoozing again.

Coyotes are out and about, breeding, and having happy little families on Livingston. The RR Team feels as if we're lucky to have such awesome little beasties in our campus "backyard" and we hope that anyone reading this will also have the good fortune to see them with their own eyes on campus. Hopefully, my attempts to suggest some greater speed control on these roads will be taken seriously as we"d love to see these pups survive to become healthy adults who will provide some rabbit, deer, turkey and goose control of their own. I don't think it"s too much of a stretch to imagine that a symbiotic relationship could exist between the coyotes and humans on Livingston campus- I, for one, am beginning to hate the damn deer, and who wouldn"t gladly cheer on our coyote pals to gobble up the stupid geese that just crap everywhere anyway? Right? Right! So take it easy on Berrue Circle and keep your eyes peeled for our small, fuzzy friends...they are definitely here and we want them to stay!

Editorial Comment by Ray Brennan
These images were taken using a digital camera, but better images and footage were captured using a digital camcorder. The rest of the pictures are coming soon - check the updates for availability.

Three cute little furballs hudling together and cleaning each other like lost kittens.

One pup isolated itself more than the other two who preferred to hunt and play on the edge of the woods and (unfortunately) on the double yellow lines. The lone coyote pup, usually curled up (left), makes a rare appearance on all fours (right).

Up the hill and under the tree, a coyote pup naps peacefully. If you're reading this, we apologize for disturbing your sleep with flash photography.

No longer bothered by the RR Team, the coyote pup finally catches some Z's.

©Rutgers Rarities and Unexplained Phenomena, 2005