If the internet is good for nothing else, it’s food for thought. Because we cannot believe everything we read, I was skeptical when I read about a thing called a coywolf. Now those of you in the know will laugh at my ignorance, because sure enough, it’s a thing. However dot com, when I first read of it, it seemed to me like one of those animal-urban legends I’ve heard before. Let’s discuss.

A coywolf is exactly what the name sounds like; it’s a combination of a coyote and a wolf, produced from interbreeding. Evidently it’s a thing. I reckon kinda like how you get a mule, right? From a donkey and a horse? While the joke possibilities are limitless, so also, apparently, are the breeding ones.

For several years, I’ve heard of the black snakes breeding in with the rattlesnakes. Have you heard about this? Supposedly the snake will then look like a harmless blacksnake but be poisonous like a rattlesnake. Scary, right? Especially for those of us who tend to have the reptiles in our house. #NOSNAKESIN2020. That’s my campaign promise to you! But I digress…

Who knows what to believe? If coywolves are a thing, then why can’t the black-rattlers be? I tried to look the latter up online, however, and I’m told that the snake thing is a myth. A modern, animal urban legend. I’m told. Online. But I was also told it’s a thing. So what the heck do we know?

I used to think Snopes was the veritable online gospel. Until I read online that it’s not. And why should it be? Is it not “fact-checked” by us mere humans, who are also awash with emotions and attitudes and opinions and agendas? How then can it be pure from these? Mmhmm. You know that’s right.

Let’s get back to the matter at hand. Those weird wolves and confused, deadly snakes. The coywolves, or woyotes if you’re sassy, are not like the mules I compared them to. Mules are sterile, but the coywolves can actually breed. It’s a whole new species! Which makes me have to ask….scientists will tell you that this world is 4.6 billion years old. And they waited until the last century to breed? (That’s coyotes and wolves, not scientists). WHY? So many questions. I would ask Snopes, but I heard he’s at the ER with a snake bite.

What other urban legends and crazy gossip are we to believe from the animal kingdom? We have always been told that Mr. Woolyworm is the best meteorologist since Punxsutawney Phil. The more dark he is, the worse the winter will be. More specifically, if he is dark at the head, the beginning of winter will be bad, and vice versa. Clearly this isn’t very accurate because I didn’t see any purely brown woolyworms, which this sissy winter would’ve definitely called for.

And what about that hornet’s nest? I’ve always heard the higher the hornet’s nest in the tree, the more snow we will have. Clearly, again, this is false. For months, I dreamed of snow days when I drove through the Skillet up Price Ridge and observed that hornet’s nest on the power line. Who else saw that? I thought, yes! We’re in for it! And here we are….graduating around Easter.

If we are to explore both animal misinformation and truths to be found on the internet, it seems appropriate to consider the old wolf in sheep’s clothing. This is, of course, a Biblical reference to Matthew 7:15: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You mean you can’t believe everything you hear? Or read?

And so it came to pass, in the days of Gates and Zuckerberg, that a terrible plague covered the land. Confined to boxes and screens, it drew the people in, such as the pulling of a great water, a tidal flood of lies…and the coywolves howled with laughter.

A teacher and mother, Meagan Morehead Bradshaw lives on a farm in Bland County; contact her at meaganmorehead123@gmail.com.

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