She is crouching beneath the rock’s overhang. Her long, bushy tail is curved around her newborns. She growls deep and fierce, showing teeth and fangs. We’d seen her mate, cold and stiff among the tumble of rocks below, a single splotch of blood at his temple.
“They shoot coyotes on sight here,” Beth whispers to me.
“I’ve heard as much,” I whisper back. The she coyote’s wolf-like eyes bore into mine. My heart, a mother’s heart, pangs for her. She will starve now, she and her pups.
“The hunters should have finished the job. She won’t leave them. Now they will starve or be ravaged by other animals.” Beth grimaces.
“We should do something, Beth. Bring food. Leave it where she can easily get it.”
“That will bring other predators, Kate. It’s nature’s way.”
“And we’re the predators in this case, Beth. Why must they be killed? I don’t get it. Coyotes have as much right to live as any other creature on this earth,” I whisper, though my words have an edge to them. I’ve held the female’s stare. Her growl is reduced to a low rumble in her chest. Does she sense we will not harm her? Does she sense we are females, mothers?
“I hate this too, Kate. I’m not sure what, if anything, we can do to help her.”
“We can try, Beth. I, I just can’t go on as if nothing happened, knowing she and her pups are at risk.” I slowly sling off my backpack. Opening it, I take out my plastic lunch box. Tearing the turkey sandwich into small bits, I set them out near the over hang.
“Okay then, let’s do this.” Beth tears off bits of her sandwich. “If she and her pups are still here and still alive tomorrow, we’ll leave meat.”
“She’s a mother. We’re mothers. I mean, within our chests, our hearts beat the same. We are creatures of this earth, all of us.”