. . . at the edge of a clearing in the Inyo National Forest in California's Eastern Sierra when a couple of forest rangers drove up in a pickup truck. Startled, the animals separated. One, a maturing fawn approaching adult status, bounded off and away. The other, a coyote ``as large as a wolf,'' stared balefully at the jeep.
``It was saying, as clearly as anything, you just cost me a meal,'' said one of the rangers, a friend. ``It was the largest coyote I've ever seen.''
He told the story yesterday afternoon by telephone. I asked if the deer had been injured. He said no, it seemed to escape without wounds. The coyote trotted off to try again.
In the evening Nancy and I took a walk on the Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Links. There were, as usual, deer everywhere, small herds or mobs of five to seven deer, two to three of those fawns, usually several of the adults on lookout. As the sun descends, the odds of a mountain lion stalking the deer increase.
A good distance away from the nearest herd, a doe and her fawn huddled alone in a patch of fairway near a grove of Monterey Cypress. It seemed strange they were on their own, so far off from the others.
As we approached they stood and moved away, the doe nose-nudging the fawn, whose front left leg had clearly been broken and bowed outward. The fawn moved painfully on three legs, the hoof of the broken leg gingerly grazing the ground, it's head down, the doe trailing protectively.
That explained them being apart from the other deer, at least it did to us. If a mountain lion targeted a herd including the injured fawn, there is no doubt which deer would die. Off on their own, the doe and fawn had some chance of not being spotted, of survival.
But unlike the young deer that escaped the coyote in the Sierra, the injured fawn's chances of growing to adulthood seemed slim indeed. The probability of the fawn soon dying a violent death added a touch of melancholy to the gathering twilight.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...