Reports are emerging from the town of Bolinas in Califorinia that at least two coyotes have been attacking cars along Highway 1 in an unusual manner. The coyotes have taken to staring at motorists as they drive through a twisting, turning section of road, before attacking their cars and then skulking off back into the wilderness. The coyotes run up to the cars, usually at night, forcing the drivers to stop as the animals then stare and sniff around the vehicles.
The encounters have been experienced by several motorists. “It’s a terrifying, yet beautiful thing to behold,” said on unnamed driver.
Experts aren't sure what's causing the abnormal behaviour, but the least probable of three possible scenarios is rabies. It seems that the attacks have been going on for a period of time longer than an animal infected with the virus could be expected to live. Lisa Bloch, director of marketing and communications for the Marin Humane Society, said that “If this is going on longer than a week or so, then it’s likely not rabies.
“And we don’t suspect rabies, just because it is pretty rare.”
The attacks have been reportedly occurring for the past three weeks.
A second possibilty is that the coyotes have perhaps eaten fly agaric mushrooms (amanita muscaria) which have hallucinogenic properties. Bloch could not completely rule out the possibility that coyotes are having psychedelic experiences. Bloch, however, also suggested a more prosaic, third, possibility - that motorists have been feeding the coyotes from their cars.
“One possibility is that the coyotes have been fed, and this is a real problem for us in Marin,” Bloch says.
“It’s possible that someone was feeding them and thinking that it’s cool, and magical and mystical to have a coyote eating out of their hand,” she explained.
Animals start acting aggressively, Bloch says, once the food-proffering hand has been introduced.
The Humane Society is working on the car-chasing, staring, coyote problem, Bloch says, and is asking for the public’s help. Anyone who has seen the staring coyotes should contact them. “We encourage people to report it right away if they see any kind of behaviours, any wildlife acting strangely, biting the tyres of a car. We would go and check it out,” she says.