One of the reasons that coyotes can exist in the ‘burbs is because of the increase in “green space,” or new areas designated by communities to be free from economic development as well as game management (hunting and trapping.) Like the whitetail, their population is rapidly expanding.
Like the whitetail deer, coyotes are amazing survivors. And, also like the whitetail, their population is expanding, moving into the suburbs and urban areas.
One of the reasons that coyotes can exist in the ‘burbs is because of the increase in “green space,” or new areas designated by communities to be free from economic development as well as game management (hunting and trapping).
But green space is going to be red space if the current pace of the coyote population increase goes unchecked.
Coyotes are genetically the same as wolves and dogs and will interbreed. There are instances of “coy-dogs” and “brush wolves,” but the strains of canine generally keep their chromosomes separate in a reproductive sense. They are territorial critters and where their boundaries overlap, the fur flies.
It seems that Mr. and Mrs. Smith in the suburbs not only have to worry about whitetails munching their prized ornamental bushes and shrubs, but they now must be careful for a new threat: the lurking danger of coyotes, ready to have a kitty cat or pooch “over for dinner.”
Coyotes drop their pups in the late winter and early spring. With a hungry litter to feed, the parents will be prowling far and wide to feed the little bellies back in the den.
Right now, coming in March and April, it is safe to say that there are thousands of litters of coyote pups ready to hit the ground.
Deer and car collisions have increased to alarming proportions. Whitetails at their worst are obnoxious pests, dining on the most exotic and expensive shrubbery around the houses. And this is weighed against the aesthetic beauty of the whitetails’ presence that we all enjoy.
Coyotes will slip into the neighborhood at night and finish off Rover’s or Garfield’s bowl of food on the back porch, or Rover or Garfield as the entree.
The earliest laws passed at the beginning of the 19th Century by the first town board meetings in Western New York was to set a price for a bounty on wolves. Wolves were not so much a direct danger to the early settlers, but a pest, killing their animals.
The wolf has evolved into a very intelligent survivor and is coming back, reclaiming the territory where it once thrived.
“I’m back,” he howls.
Left unchecked and unmanaged, the eventual result of the coyote population boom will be as horrific as it will be historic.
Those of us living next to green space will be under siege from coyotes and deer. Fences are a waste of money. I would hate to wager on which critter can get over, under, around or through a fence the quickest: Mr. Whitetail or Mr. Coyote?
One thing that hasn’t changed in the 200 years since settlers moved into the Northeast and Midwest is, for the most part, wild critters are tougher to catch and eat than our domestic animals, whether they be fish or fowl.
Wild animals are tougher and faster. Pets and livestock are, relatively speaking, slow, fat and kind of stupid; in other words, easy picking or the low-hanging fruit. And, besides, they generally taste better too.
Added to this eventual and unstoppable ecological disaster will be nature’s retribution to those of us who have not learned her mandate: “If you don’t accept the responsibility of managing your natural surroundings, then I will.”
Nature’s way –– the natural way –– is catastrophic, boom and bust. And one of the Four Horsemen is disease.
Don’t think that the exploding coyote population is immune to mange and rabies. Dealing with a hungry coyote is one thing, but taking on a rabid one creates a scenario of an entirely different magnitude and dimension.
The notion and idea of green space comes from a wonderful and almost universal instinct we all have to be in nature, especially for those of us who do not have the woods close at hand.
But if we choose to create this artificial environment, we can’t be myopic to the inevitable consequence down the road: the red space –– the shadow in the underbrush, skulking and licking its paw in a pile of fieldstone.
Oak Duke: firstname.lastname@example.org