Friday, February 27, 2009

From the Archives: Urban Habitat

One of the more interesting urban legends (which happens to be true) is the story of the coyote that decided to hitch a ride on Portland's MAX light rail - recently reemerged on the Seattle Transit Blog.

:: image via Seattle Transit Blog

Some more info via the strange Dogs In the News - from February, 2002 : "Authorities reported on Wednesday that a wild coyote was chased off the tarmac at Portland International Airport. The traveling prairie pooch, realizing that it wasn't welcome to fly the friendly skies, proceeded to the Tri-Met Airport Terminal Station where it boarded the light-rail train bound for downtown. ... Closely related to the domestic pooch (Canis familiaris), the coyote (Canis latrans) shares many of a dog's behavioral traits, such as a remarkable intelligence and capacity to learn. However, coyotes generally fear people and will avoid human contact. The "Commuter Coyote" described in this article (Canis latransit) is currently being researched by Scoop biologists. Stay tuned for further scientific developments."

The most interesting byproduct of this encounter, the human/wildlife interaction aside, was one of my favorite songs, "Light Rail Coyote," by the now retired Sleater-Kinney. From the Portland Mercury: "The song is a wonderful portrait of Portland as both an urban and rural landscape that houses punks, strippers, bookstores, and even the occasional public transport riding coyote.

Out at the edge of town
Where airfield runs water down
Coyote crosses old tracks
And hops on the Light-Rail Max"

Check out the link for some more info and listen to the tune. While it is perhaps a stretch to connect the demise of one of the grrrl punk superstars with declining habitat values - it is telling that a band of intelligent women - took note of a very urban issue, and a very Portland one at that, to make some art. Their last album, 'The Woods' came out in 2006. Much like the coyote, we will never see them again.

:: image via MySpace - Sleater-Kinney

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