On the heels of the last entry… Why have coyotes been eradicated from our mid-Atlantic region? It’s complicated. Actually, the real reason is that they are NOT indigenous to our region. Since my youth, I have been informed that coyotes and gray wolves used to roam this region, that is, until the European invasion of human infidels. (That is in regard to nature, but perhaps that is a poor means to describe it.) Anyway, I have been informed repeatedly that the coyotes and gray wolves were killed off by farmers in order to protect their own domestic animals from outside predation.
That information was wrong. And it is indeed complicated. Again, coyotes are not indigenous to our region. They are, however, quite adaptable creatures that have spread this far east from more western areas, predominately west of the Mississippi River. In the mid-Atlantic region pre-European infidel humans, coyotes were not to be seen, AND, neither were gray wolves! Shocking? Well to me it was! You see I was reading through the Maryland Department of Natural Recourses website, and I was quickly becoming alarmed that all that I had been told in the past was not true! Coyotes not indigenous! Wolves not indigenous! Why does this disturb me? WHAT THEN IS THE NATURAL PREDATOR OF THE F@#$ING GROUNDHOGS?!!!
For me, THE main creature of focus as an organic vegetable farmer are GROUNDHOGS! Those nasty, cowardly creatures are a constant bane, and I had for such a long time thought that if the natural predators returned to the area, a proper balance might be restored. Alas, the complication sets in…
Coyotes. No, they are not natural to this area. However, as I witnessed over a week ago, they are here. What does this mean? What does this lead to? I was struck by what the Maryland Department of Natural Resources had to say on the matter. Here is the website link: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Hunt_Trap/furbearers/coyote.asp and here is the quote: “Public opinion concerning coyotes evolves in a very predictable fashion. As coyote first appear in an area, they are novel and receive a great deal of interest. As population densities and associated nuisance complaints increase through time, public opinion quickly changes from novel fascination, to ‘I do not want this animal in my neighborhood’. Few, if any other wildlife species evoke as widespread and passionate disdain by the general public as coyotes.”
When the coyotes first appear in a region they are “novel and receive a great deal of interest”. Well now, I am guilty of that for sure. The next stage is the disturbing one, when the coyote is deemed as nefarious. For many years, feral cats have prowled the field boundaries hunting mice and such. Earlier this year, the normal very large tabby along with a black cat was frequently seen. That has not been the case for months. This is most likely due to having coyotes in the area. Coyotes do not tend to discriminate between prey. Domestic pets are most likely next up on the menu for them.
Egad! Here I thought that a natural predator of groundhogs had finally reappeared… only to find out… that these creatures could be a greater problem still! And to think, all I want is to contain the groundhog population!
It is amazing to me, how every development in the “natural” situation that surrounds me has so many negative implications. Coyotes… an invasive species. How many plant species are invasive and not native? I can’t even get past the Canadian thistle before I am exhausted by the thought! Ugh! Oh how we have destroyed the natural alignment of this region!
To pause this rant, WHAT WERE the natural predators of groundhogs? If coyotes and wolves are stricken from the possible list, the largest current predator is the fox. While on a good day, a fox, be it gray or red, could probably take down a full sized groundhog, that would be far too much physical exertion to justify killing a creature that could not be consumed on the spot. Since foxes do not travel in packs, their portion size demand is much smaller. And then take into account that a groundhog can easily reach the size of a fox… WHAT WERE the natural predators of groundhogs?
After the realization settled in that the “natural” situation was much more complicated than I had expected, I let history lead the way, if you will. Groundhogs have always been in the immediate area. The issue is that whatever the natural predator was, it is no longer around. And as I perused further into the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website, I suspect I found the answer…
Look around… Okay, I am assuming that you, the reader, live in the mid-Atlantic, mid-Maryland locale which is the focus of this entry. If not, try to imagine… I guess. Anyway, look around this area and what do you see? Is it urban sprawl? If not the sprawl, horse farms, that is, paddocked open land where horses graze? If not horse farms, are there cattle farms with equally open terrain? If not cattle farms, are there flowing fields of corn or soy beans, or wheat, or other grass crops? Only occasionally will you see a thick forest. But a thick forest is where we need to start to figure out this complicated problem of the natural predators for those… confounded groundhogs.
Of what was just mentioned, what is indigenous to this region? Urban sprawl… no. Horses… no. Paddocked open land… no. Cows… no. Corn… no. Soy beans… no. Wheat… no. In fact, grass land was in relative short supply as well. What was the natural terrain like? It was the great woodlands! Large, indeed, immense hardwood forests consumed the terrain. This is quite difficult to imagine hundreds of years after the European infidels chopped down the majority of the trees, but such is the case. And back in those days, they had groundhogs as well. But there was at least one other predator that lurked within those trees that is no longer prevalent at all… the bobcat.
Bobcats are known groundhog predators. However, bobcats only tend to lurk in heavily forested areas. And thus, we arrive at today. There are very few forests, ergo very few bobcats, and I should mention mountain lions here as well, and LOTS and LOTS of F@#$ING GROUNDHOGS!!!
Ugh! What the European infidels have done to North America! We are a despicable species, that is for sure. After having destroyed the natural habitat, which truly simply wants to grow large deciduous hard wood trees… I can’t even go on. And after all of this simplistic reflection on the complicated nature of, well, nature, there are still… TOO DAMNED MANY GROUNDHOGS!!!
But, now, back to the coyotes. I found out today that a coyote had been found dead by the side of a highway near by a while ago. It was tagged and when the tag source was searched, it originated from a coyote breeding business out west. The purchaser of the coyote? An insurance company. Is it possible that the reason coyotes are appearing in our region is that insurance companies, who are tired of paying for car damage due to deer collisions think that by adding coyotes to our region will solve the problem and save them some money? At what other costs? All of this is complicated enough, but add human infidels and… ugh.