This was not supposed to be a column about coyotes. Really. This was supposed to be a measured and thoughtful examination of the current socio-economic situation in Dallas, with critical thinking and deep and significant analysis.

But the coyotes kept getting in the way.

We have had a long and colorful history with coyotes at the Advocate. Not that we’ve actually seen any, of course. But we’ve heard about them — call it coyote mania. All we need to do to boost traffic on our website is to run a coyote post on the blog.

And we’re not the only ones. The TV stations and newspapers in the Dallas area love coyote stories: Coyotes that have been spotted in various subdivisions; coyotes that have run off with small cats and dogs; coyotes that have threatened young children playing in the backyard. At the end of July, Channel 5 did a piece about a woman who let her dog play with a coyote, which then proceeded to kill it. And then there was the governor and his Texas coyote quick draw.

Still, for the most part, I’ve been able to keep coyote mania in perspective. But I’m afraid it’s now time to panic, and to go into coyote mania overdrive. I know someone who actually saw a coyote.

I was taking my morning constitutional with my friend, The Big Guy, and we were walking north on Abrams just below Lovers with one of my dogs. That’s when a DART bus — yes, a DART bus — practically screamed to a halt next to us and the driver all but slammed open the door.

“I saw a coyote!” he said.

I don’t know about you, but if a DART bus practically screams to a halt next to you when it’s early enough in the morning so that it’s still dark out, the last thing you expect to hear is that the driver saw a coyote. A passenger heart attack maybe, or an attempted robbery. Needless to say, the Big Guy and I were left more or less speechless.

The driver said he saw the coyote near the railroad overpass south of us, where the animal was running across the street. He saw that we had a dog with us, and he wanted to warn us. Which was quite decent of him (though, given my dog’s ability to ignore almost everything around her save eating, sleeping, and howling at UPS trucks, I doubt the coyote would have been much of a threat).

Hence my newfound coyote watchfulness. If we’re at the point where coyote mania affects DART drivers, an otherwise levelheaded group, then I’ve obviously not been paying enough attention to what has become a serious urban problem. Because it doesn’t get much closer than one degree of separation, does it?

So, because I am so public spirited, a few suggestions on how to deal with the coyotes:

• A convention center hotel for coyotes. How better to get them off the streets than their own hotel, with a fine restaurant, a decent bar, and plenty of meeting space? I’d even be willing to consult on the wine list.

• A coyote heliport. If the city, despite its financial distress, can afford to run a heliport for big shots, why not one for coyotes? Maybe we can attract coyote big shots, who could explain how coyote development would increase after Dallas votes to go wet.

• Name a street after Wile E. Coyote — which, if nothing else, would demonstrate to the coyotes that we consider them key members of the community. Or not, given how the city council works.

Until then, I will keep a watchful eye for coyotes, coyote news, coyote spottings, and coyote rumors. And, of course, I will panic at every opportunity.

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