WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Where the wild things, surprisingly, are

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Where the wild things, surprisingly, are

“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.”

Aldo Leopold

I, for one, cannot. I am still in awe of the many wild critters I come across every day of every week.

Of course, I discount the “once” wild Canada geese that can be found in many of the parks in our area and even on school grounds, golf courses and the yards of some homes.

But in my morning trips to the Meriden Dog Park to let our pet Charlie take a morning outing, I have seen deer on Hicks Avenue, plus wild turkeys, hawks, turkey buzzards and, one time, a coyote.

And then there are the songbirds chirping away during the morning hours. My favorite is the red-winged blackbird, with the mockingbird and its many different sounds coming in a close second. 

One morning, a wild turkey tried to make its way into the dog park, but one of the bigger dogs scared it and it took flight.

I have even watched a pileated woodpecker banging away at one of the trees in the small dog park. There is no mistaking its shrill cry.

And turkey buzzards are everywhere. I have seen them on many occasions and have even seen them gliding around over the center of our fair city.

I hope that is not a sign of things to come.

Seeing so many wild turkeys comes as sort of a surprise because of some reports of local turkey hunters not filling their turkey tags this year. Some hunters I talked to have filled their tags or at least one tag every year. Not this year. Although they had male turkeys answer their hen calls, something seemed to keep the big boys out of shotgun and bow range.

The pond at Beaver Park where the Meriden Dog Park is located also has a couple of swans calling it home, along with small variety of ducks.

Nature is everywhere, but so many folks simply do not take the time to notice the many wonders she has created. Or is it because they are simply taken for granted?

Regarding the coyote I saw in the area of the Meriden Dog Park on Hicks Avenue: Seeing it did not surprise me. I know of quite a few coyote sightings within the city limits. I imagine some folks seeing them crossing a road in our area might even think they are seeing someone’s dog.

I have been up close and personal with a few coyotes in my many years in the woods, and they can be as quiet as a whitetailed deer in their hunting forays.

Our CT DEEP reports that coyotes resemble a small, lanky German shepherd but have wide, pointed ears, a long muzzle, yellow eyes and an uncurled bushy tail carried close to the ground.

Here in Connecticut, the first coyotes were found in the 1950s. Since then they have multiplied and can be found just about anywhere. People should be reminded that they are not pets and should never be enticed into staying in an area by feeding them.

The DEEP tells us coyotes are opportunists and can adapt to just about any habitat, including developed areas like wooded suburbs, parks, beach fronts and office parks.

I have to tell you one of the largest coyotes I have seen in this area was on Research Parkway in the area of Protein Sciences while Edna and I were taking Charlie for a walk. It was a good-looking animal, but one that would think nothing of making a meal out of our pup.

Generally a coyote’s diet consists of mice, woodchucks, squirrels, rabbit, turkeys and deer. They’ll also eat some fruits, carrion and, when it is available, garbage,

The DEEP tells us that some coyotes will prey on small livestock and poultry. Also, reports of coyotes killing small pets have increased in recent years. 

In our area, unsupervised pets like outdoor cats and small dogs can be easily taken by a roaming coyote. The DEEP reports also stated that many pet owners are unaware of the presence of coyotes and the threat they pose to their pets until it is too late. The pet is either severely injured or killed by a coyote.

Regarding pets, coyotes can be quite bold. Our niece had one come right up on her porch to grab a pet cat. Fortunately, JoAnne yelled at the coyote and it dropped the cat and took off.

Public concerns about coyotes attacking people and children are becoming more common as their population increases. Although ithe risk has been termed extremely low, it has happened and there are statistics to back it up.

If you are aware of coyotes in your area, do not allow pets to run free. Never feed coyotes and I do mean NEVER! This means bird seed below feeders, pet foods and fallen fruit. Secure garbage cans and compost in animal proof containers. 

Always walk your dogs on a leash. If approached by a coyote while walking your dog, keep the dog under control and calmly leave the area.

Do not turn your back. Coyotes are territorial and many reports of bold coyotes visiting yards, howling, or threatening larger dogs can often be attributed to this territorial behavior.

You should also be aware of any coyote behaving abnormally or exhibiting unusually bold behavior, like approaching people for food, attacking leashed pets with their owners, stalking children or chasing joggers or bikers. Report any of those incidents to authorities immediately.

There is much more to the coyote information, but I thought that since they seem to be very prevalent in our area you should be aware of the possible dangers they could present, especially to pets.

And here is an added thought: We do need trapping and hunting of coyotes and certain other game animals if we want to keep their numbers under control. Unless of course, those who oppose trapping want to take on the job of neutering and spaying all the male and female wild critters that have the capability of injuring pets and humans.

See ya, stay safe and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be.

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