City dwellers are more used to seeing two-legged predators than four-legged ones.
So when folks who live in the city or the nearby suburbs see a bear or a coyote prowling the neighborhood, they sometimes get a little concerned.
A few days ago I got an e-mail from a reader in Charleston's Fort Hill region. He said he had seen coyotes roaming around, and just the evening before had heard a pack of them howling in the woods behind his house.
He wondered if Charleston residents were fully aware that coyotes have set up shop well within the city limits.
Truth be told, many folks aren't aware. So here's the scoop:
Coyotes have been present in and around Charleston for more than two decades. They are extraordinarily adaptable animals, able to live close to humans without being noticed.
I did an interview in the mid 1990s with Tom Dotson, at the time the Division of Natural Resources' wildlife biologist for the Charleston region.
Dotson told me that the hills just south of the Kanawha River, in Charleston and immediately surrounding it, probably held the state's largest single concentration of coyotes.
"It makes sense when you think about it," Dotson said. "The area has a lot of houses and a lot of woods. There are lots of garbage cans to raid and lots of mice, chipmunks, squirrels and small house pets to feed on. There's an extensive road network with lots of roadkill. A coyote can make a pretty good living there."