I share my neighborhood with a number of creatures, including a pack of coyotes that may have moved in because of an apparently-thriving feral cat colony.

For the past couple of nights, the coyotes have been making a racket, and when coyotes make a racket, it is impossible to ignore them. What I have been listening to is what is called a “group yip howl,” and it is meant to make the group sound bigger than it is. The sound includes not just yips and howls but what one researcher calls “screams, gargles, and laughs.” Other sounds that may be put to use are yodels and “neurotic whines.” Use what you got.

All of these sounds are employed in quick succession over a period of five minutes or so, making some believe there’s a slaughter going on. But the real purpose is to stake out territory; by employing all of those vocalizations, two can sound like many, and the phenomenon can travel from pack to pack.

Here is a fairly subdued version and another scarier one.

Again, the purpose is to declare a presence that won’t be abridged. To lay a claim and voice that claim actively.

I have been thinking about this phenomenon a lot lately as I see the pile-on of stakeholders who refuse to be shut out or shut down when a governing body does something that they object to—in North Carolina, for instance, or Georgia. How do you create a noise big and diverse enough to cause others to pay attention and adjust their behavior?

Of COURSE, I am not comparing highly thoughtful activists to coyotes – it’s a very loose metaphor – but how many noises do you have in your vocalization box? Are you using what you got?