It was late at night and I was driving my family in our Suburban along a fast-paced stretch of highway in remote southern Utah. We’d been traveling most of the day and had another half hour to go before reaching our destination.
Two coyotes darted into the road from my left. I braked, missing the first coyote but hitting the second one on the right side of my front bumper.
I knew the coyote was dead. And even though these animals are considered pests in Utah (wildlife officials pay hunters to kill them) I am a tender hearted soul and I felt badly.
Certainly there are less painful ways to go.
With absolutely no shoulder on the road, I didn’t pull over but kept on driving. About twenty minutes later we entered the first of several small towns that we had to drive through. When I reduced my speed, I was horrified to hear a rattle and thud coming from the front right side of the car, exactly where the coyote had hit.
Had I been driving all this time with the poor coyote’s body hanging onto my bumper or stuck in my wheel well?
I was so relieved to see, upon getting out of the car, that our front fog light had fallen off. It had broken upon impact and worked its way loose.
I was endowed with the name of “coyote slayer” by my family, and I felt on edge the rest of the trip. In Navajo mythology, the coyote plays an important role in many of the creationist stories. Legends say if a coyote crosses your path, turn back and do not continue because the animal is a warning of something bad ahead. I’m grateful to report the rest of the trip was uneventful.