You may have seen the news last week about a unique visitor in Carytown. We posted it on our Facebook page. Early one morning, the Richmond Wildlife Center started receiving calls about a possibly rabid fox hiding under a car.

A bit of investigation revealed that instead of a fox, an adult female coyote was scared and hiding under a parked car just a block off of the busy shopping street.

Should we call her “Cary”?

NBC Coyote StoryShe seemed otherwise healthy, and after some coordination with other wildlife groups, Cary was trapped, taken someplace safe and away from traffic and humans, and released back into the wild.

But was the appearance of a coyote really that unique?

There’s every likelihood that Cary the Coyote wandered out of the James River Park System, somehow crossed the highway, and found her way to Carytown. If you follow Urban Wildlife_JRPS (and you really should) you could see amazing footage from some of their trail cams. We’ve seen birds, deer, racoons, foxes, bobcats, and, yes, coyotes.

And Cary isn’t even the largest non-human mammal to venture into Carytown. Folks around there see the occasional deer, and less than a year ago a black bear was caught wandering East Cary Street.

Way back in the 1960s, a full-sized whale swam up the James River to within 30 miles of Richmond. A few years ago, a fin whale swam up the James into Newport News. Unfortunately, both of those stories ended sadly.

But they point to something significant.

Wildlife Cam CoyoteA key data point in the health of the James River is the return of the Atlantic Sturgeon. While they wouldn’t dream of spawning in the James in 1960, it has become healthy enough that this prehistoric fish calls it home. The creation of the James River Park System also helped to connect parts of the Lower and Upper James in a vast “greenway” that stretches from the mountains to the ocean.

Even cities as large as New York have seen the return of wildlife once thought gone forever. The Hudson River Valley, right next to the Big Apple, sees the occasional wolf.

We know what you’re thinking:

“Coyotes and bears and bobcats? In MY park?”

Sure. The James River Park System is a natural habitat, and that means all of the creatures great & small that might like to call it home. If you see something in the Park that gives you the willies, give it a wide berth. Quietly walk away. Make some noise as you wander the trails to avoid surprising anyone (or anything). If you feel threatened, make yourself seem bigger, and use your adult voice to alert the curious carnivore that you’re not to be trifled with.

After all, we can share the Park.