WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The courses Mother Nature takes can be cruel

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The courses Mother Nature takes can be cruel


“Let nature take its course.”

This seems to be the battle cry of so many animal rightists who are against any type of animal control, like hunting and trapping, when it comes to wildlife being overpopulated.

In a sense, this is true, BUT they forget to mention that this type of control by Mother Nature can be very cruel. Over the centuries we have seen this to be true.

Animal reproduction in the wild is one thing we have not really found a way to control, other than with regulated hunting and trapping. This is especially true when you look at the numbers in many of our smaller species of wild critters.

Have you seen any dead squirrels, raccoons, skunks or opossums laying on a paved road that were killed by a motorist who never even stopped to see if the critter they hit was dead or alive? Could that be a part of nature taking its course?

Two of nature’s means of population control are starvation, after an overpopulation has destroyed the edible habitat, and disease, such as rabies, distemper and mange.

While starvation is always there for larger animals like deer, moose and bears, they can also have their numbers depleted by diseases, some from small insects, and their deaths are not humane.

Raccoons, skunks and other smaller animals have rabies, distemper and mange to deal with, and any overpopulation of the different species can result in massive die-offs.

To many, the disease names are nothing more than a word. Take rabies. The disease is caused by a virus and is primarily carried by foxes and skunks. However, raccoons, possums, mink and even bobcats can be infected.

If you have been a reader of this column, you might remember an article I did on a fellow villager, Rudy Metzger, who was camping in Florida and was attacked by a rabid bobcat. He was able to dispatch the bobcat, but had to get anti-rabies shots after the attack.

The information I have says that rabies is virtually 100 percent fatal to both animals and humans. The disease is spread by contact with the saliva of the infected animal and can be contacted by all species of animals, both domestic and wild, including people.

I find it amazing at the number of folks right here in our area who think it is OK to leave food out for raccoons, fox and even coyotes. (You don’t have to leave food out for the black bears; they will simply come into you home and take what they want.)

An animal in the last stages of rabies often will froth at the mouth due to paralyzed nerves in the throat. Death finally comes when the diaphragm becomes paralyzed and the victim suffocates.

You should also know that infected animals in the terminal stage of rabies have either ”furious” or what is known as “dumb” rabies. In the furious stage, they have been known to attack just about anything. In the dumb stage, they may act tame.

Quite often, wild and elusive animals such as foxes and coyotes will walk right into a backyard or groups of people and appear totally unafraid. Bottom line? You cannot tell by an animal’s looks if it has rabies or not.

Then there is distemper, a disease also caused by a virus. Pet lovers should know that it is extremely contagious to dogs and cats and it is carried by raccoons, skunks, opossums, mink and even bobcats.

I have been told by Wildlife Control officer Don Dandelski that there have been quite a number of distemper cases among wild animals, especially raccoons, right here in Meriden.

There are two kinds of the virus. One infects cats only and can be carried by bobcats. The other infects dogs only and is carried by fox and coyotes. However, raccoons, skunks and mink are susceptible to carrying both the feline and canine distemper virus.

Distemper is a disease that is almost 100 percent fatal in both wild animals, dogs and cats. Distemper is a cruel, long and drawn-out way for an animal to die.

So, once again, ask yourselves is nature taking its course in a humane way to control the wildlife population?

Mange is yet another disease that, without treatment, can be 100 percent fatal to animals. I have seen animals with mange, a couple of them domestic that were treated by a veterinarian. I’ve seen some in the wild — a couple of foxes and a coyote that were not able to be treated other than nature taking its course.

Mange is caused by mites that burrow into the skin of the stricken animal and can easily spread to other animals.

Mange is an ugly disease. Stricken animals begin chewing on themselves and mutilating their bodies. Open sores develop and become infected. The skin thickens and oozes pus.

In 6-12 weeks the animal will die from bacterial infection or starvation. I am told that if this death was quick and humane it would not be so bad, but it is one of the most painful, cruel and devastating diseases known in the animal world.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me wonder who the real culprits are, Mother Nature taking her course or the legislators who listen to the wrong people and prevent our DEEP Wildlife Division from doing its job.

Yes, Mother Nature, if left alone, can correct overpopulation, but is this really the humane way?

If you should ever have any doubts about wildlife in your yards, give D & D Wildlife Control owned by Don Dandelski a call at 203-235-1318.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.