Like the whitetail deer, coyotes are amazing survivors. And like the whitetail, their populations are expanding, moving into not only the rural woods of  Northeast, but into the suburbs and urban areas as well.

       One of the reasons that coyotes can exist in “the ‘burbs,” is because of the increase in “Green Space,” 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 generally the strains of canine 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 now must be careful for a new threat, the lurking danger of coyotes, ready to have their pet kitty cat or pooch “over for dinner.”

       Coyotes drop their pups in the late winter and early spring. And 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 in the Northeast and Midwest, it is safe to say that there are thousands of litters of coyote pups ready to hit the ground.  

       It’s a shame that game management is not practiced throughout New York State, as pockets of non-hunting areas allow wildlife populations to get out of control. Coyote as well as whitetail populations are literally “out of control” near the small cities that offer Green Space.

       Deer and car collisions have increased to alarming proportions on the edge of Green Space with resultant life-changing tragedies to some unfortunate families.

       But mostly, 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 himself as the entrée.

       The earliest laws passed at the beginning of the 19th Century by the first town board meetings in Western New York was to set the 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.

       And unchecked, unmanaged, the eventual result of the coyote population boom will be as horrific as it will be historic.

       The onus is on the DEC to prevent what they surely must have forecast.

       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 Northeast and Midwest is that for the most part, wild critters are tougher to catch and eat than our domestic animals, whether they be fish, or fowl.

       And besides, wild animals are tougher and faster. Pets and livestock are relatively speaking; slow, fat, and kind of stupid; in two words, easy picking, the low-hanging fruit. And besides, they generally taste better too.

       And 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.”

       And 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, 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 forget the other side by being myopic to the inevitable consequence down the road, the Red Space; the shadow in the underbrush, skulking, licking its paw in a pile of fieldstone.


Oak Duke: