Friday, July 27, 2012

Still Warm

This morning, a coyote was hit on M-28, fifteen miles east of Marquette. It lay sprawled in the center of the two-lane highway, head dangerously close to passing tires, teeth bared. A small puddle of blood had pooled on the pavement beneath its face. I moved the body off the road, carrying it by its legs, and was taken aback to find that it was still warm.

For a moment, I didn't take any photographs. I looked upon this coyote with wonder and pity, touched its scraggly summer fur, removed a dog tick from its ear. An hour earlier, this coyote had been a living, breathing entity, a predator of the northwoods, a hunter in the forest. Like untold numbers before it, this animal had met its end on the highway, and it had died with a look of terror and contempt in its eyes.

Coyote I

Psychologically, photographing this coyote was not easy. Despite the body being motionless, it still looked as if it could awaken, shake the whole ordeal off, and retreat back to the woods. Of course, it was dead; its snout was smashed, its ears bled, and its pupils were dilated, unseeing.

I photographed the coyote for nearly twenty minutes – an incredibly long period of time spent along the highway. Cars raced by, giving me a wide berth, their tires noisily hitting the rumble strip at the center of the road. There were spans of time, however, when there was no traffic, and it was blessedly quiet – just the coyote and myself, silent save for the singing of crickets and the distant calling of crows. At last, I moved the body even further off the road, into a grassy ditch, where I took my favorite photograph of the morning:

Coyote VIII

From the road, the coyote was invisible. All that remained was blood splatter; soon, that too will wash away.


  1. This was definitely one of your hardest photo sets to look at, but still one of the most beautiful. The coyote really did look like it could stand up at any second, the photos really captured that. It also reminded me so much of a domestic dog, that it was a little uncomfortable to look at.

  2. Such a shame. As automobile design evolves, maybe one day roadkill will be unacceptable--and there will be a way of avoiding or preventing it. Guidance systems are not very far away in the future for automobiles, and they ought to help a car miss at least an animal as large as a coyote. -- Baggy Paragraphs