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The Animal Care Team at Irvine Nature Center is always busy. When they’re not caring for Irvine’s 60-plus Animal Ambassadors, they’re fielding interesting finds and calls from our neighbors about injured or found animals.

A few weeks ago, some Good Samaritans entered the nature center with something small and furry cradled in the front of their hoodie. It was hard to see what the tiny brown fuzzball was, but it was clear from the cooing and “awwwwe-ing” that I heard that it was something adorable. When I was finally able to squeeze in among this animal’s new adoring fans, it was clear what the fuss was about. A coyote pup was sleeping soundly, its tiny belly rhythmically moving as it breathed. It had been found alone on the side of the road and I had never seen a pup that small in person. The whole experience got me thinking: coyotes are a relatively new arrival in our area, and their impact has been significant.

W. Brooks Paternotte took the helm of Irvine Nature Center as executive director in July 2013 and immediately began building on the strong 35-year foundation. Brooks is a Baltimore native who was a teacher, coach, advisor, dean and Head of the Middle School during his 13 years at Boys’ Latin School in Baltimore. He is also an instructor and ambassador of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and is a Leave No Trace Master, as well as an avid outdoorsman and a features writer for FlyLife Magazine.