The sleepy beach town of Bolinas has something lively to talk about this week, as reports emerge that a coyote (or coyotes) has been attacking cars along Highway 1 in a manner so bizarre it has residents scratching their heads. The attacks are weird enough that one seemingly outlandish explanation, that the coyotes are eating hallucinogenic mushrooms and vision questing their way into interactions with drivers, is being considered.
A report in the Pacific Sun details the late-night encounters had by numerous motorists.
"A coyote has taken to staring down automobile drivers as they drive through this twisting, turning section of highway," notes the paper, "before attacking the car and then skulking off back into the wilderness. The coyote runs up to the cars, usually at night, forcing drivers to stop as the beast stares and sniffs around the vehicle."
“It’s a terrifying, yet beautiful thing to behold,” one driver told the Sun.
Experts aren't sure what's behind the abnormal behavior, but they are sure of one thing: It's not rabies. It seems that the attacks have been going on for a period of time longer than an animal infected with the virus could be expected to live. Lisa Bloch, director of marketing and communications for the Marin Humane Society, told the Sun that "[if] this is going on longer than a week or so, then it’s likely not rabies. And we don’t suspect rabies, just because it is pretty rare.”
The attacks have been reportedly occurring for the past three weeks.
“We are trying to figure this out,” Bloch helpfully informs us.
The Sun notes that the fly agaric mushroom (amanita muscaria) grows in the area and has hallucinogenic properties, and that Bloch recently warned residents about the possible side effects of their pets eating the wild fungus.
Bloch, for her part, suggested a more prosaic possibility: Drivers have been feeding the coyotes from their cars.
“It’s possible that someone was feeding him and thinking that it’s cool, and magical and mystical to have a coyote eating out of his hand,” she explained.
Which, when we consider that this is Bolinas we're talking about, seems in the end the likeliest of explanations.