photo by Andy Marks
NEVER FEED WILDLIFE!
So what is the significance of this statement?
THERE IS GREAT SIGNIFICANCE, a significance that goes beyond the “common sense” reasons.
Katy Payne in her book Silent Thunder, writes “I was thinking about what is lost when wildness is lost, and realizing that habituation is not just a slight modification of wild nature. It is a huge step toward tameness, in which all kinds of odd circumstances are accepted as normal.” Feeding wildlife leads to habituation.
WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE TAKE SOMETHING AWAY FROM WILD BEINGS WHEN WE FEED THEM…..we take away Respect!
Mary Oliver writes, “It makes impossible the other view of nature, which is of a realm both sacred and intricate, as well as powerful, of which we are no more than a single part.”
So look into the eyes of this truly wild Coyote …..
SO WHY IS BAITING WILDLIFE TO MAKE IT EASY TO KILL THEM…..LEGAL? As biologists we are always encouraging our communities not to feed wildlife ….and that means wild birds and Seagulls….and yet feeding bears dunkin’ donuts, and luring Coyotes toward huge bait piles of none other than the remains of farm animals bodies…is all legal?
THE WILD COYOTE PEERING OUT AT YOU FROM THIS PHOTO IS ASKING YOU “WHY?”
Monarch on Milkweed
One of our farmers in Maine shared with me a while back, that before the Coyotes expanded their range into Maine, he could not keep the deer our of his garden….suffering economic loss year after year.
But after the Coyotes arrived on his farm, the deer did not “hang around” and eat up all his vegetables. Instead they kept on the move……Now this is what happens when there is the BALANCE of the predator and the prey on the landscape.
Our deer herds have lived with wolves for thousands of years here in Maine, and their behavior has been shaped by that relationship. And so our deer herds today know how to relate when coyote is present on the landscape.
SO WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH MONARCH BUTTERFLIES AND THEIR SURVIVAL ???
Well….large carnivores like Coyote keep large herbivores like deer ON THE MOVE…preventing them from eating up the VITAL WILD HABITAT of invaluable insects like butterflies and bees, as well as many of our bird species. So wherever our native plants are present, these species can survive and perform the important work of pollination, and for birds…insect patrol.
That is why we want to support our Organic farms here in Maine who grow our food without herbicides that poison and kill these important species, but who also support the presence of coyotes on their farms, who by their presence protect the habitat… preventing the deer from eating it up.
And what about your land…..? Know that your property, whether it be farm or not, can be a place of healthy habitat for these important insects….and you want to PROTECT COYOTES THAT SHARE YOUR LAND WITH YOU. WHEN YOU PROTECT COYOTES, YOU PROTECT MANY OTHER SPECIES.
To understand how VITAL THESE CONNECTIONS ARE, this year was the first year in memory that the people of central Mexico did not observe the iconic return of the Monarch on November 1. Instead they straggled in a week later after their long migration…..LESS THAN 3 MILLION….COMPARED TO LAST YEAR…..60 MILLION.
All of life is connected….and how we live our lives….and the farmers we support for the way they farm….touches the lives of many species.
photo by Bruce Marsh
Here is one of our Maine Coyotes….going about her important work in this ecosystem of one of our Maine landowners. Our coyotes can have large territories, but within their territories are what is called their core areas, the places where they spend most of their time. So too, our urban coyotes in our cities in Maine, like Bangor and Portland, have core areas as well.
So here is just how amazing our major carnivores, like Coyotes, are….how they affect health in our ecosystems, and affect other species…..just by their presence!
Dr. Stan Gehrt, out of Ohio University, has been conducting urban Coyote research in Chicago for the past 12 years or so…..and this is his latest finding ~ The researchers have found that domestic cats are recognizing Coyote’s core areas (which are green refuges within the cities) and staying away from them, in order to survive. Instead the cats are spending more time closer to human abodes and buildings.
THE AMAZING RESULT ~ Bird species that would otherwise fall prey to domestic cats in these green refuges, are protected by coyote’s presence there. And as a biologist, I would suggest that if we were able to do that research here in Maine in our rural areas, we would begin to see the same happening.
So if you would like to support that wonderful diversity of bird species on your land, protect the Coyotes that share your land with you!……as this Maine landowner, who took this photo, does.
“Skyote” by Maine artist Gwen Sylvester
SPRING IS HERE! AND SO IS THE DIVERSITY OF LIFE EVER SO NOTICEABLE……..Out come the black flies, out come the ticks, and out come the many, many rodents who pro-create in great numbers!
IN COMES COYOTE! ……VERY BUSY WITH RODENT PATROL as you can see in the beautiful art piece created by Maine artist, Gwen Sylvester. How significant is this ecological work of Coyotes…..very significant!
We need coyotes here to keep the system in balance, to keep our rodent populations in check…..this we know through research is vital to controlling Lyme disease here in Maine.
PROTECT THE COYOTES ON YOUR LAND FROM HUMAN EXPLOITATION.
photo by John Tangney
In our Native American myths, Coyote was the teacher….the teacher of how to live respectfully in the community, and how to treat all life on the earth.
And so today Coyote continues to be the teacher …teaching us how to live on this earth home. You and I are born into a society in which certain human behaviors have become institutioanlized….have become the norm….and never really thought about a whole lot…until Coyote arrives.
And one of those human behaviors is to give freedom to our domestic cats to go out and kill millions of our native songbirds and other small mammals….none of which they need to survive….because when they come home…you feed them. So often when I am speaking to communities or I read articles in the paper about coyotes, coyotes and cats seem always to be a favorite subject of concern. People are sending their cats out….and you know that when they reach the threshhold of your door…they become the predators….and Coyotes are finding them roaming around at night, and they kill and eat them….in order to survive.
So what is this keystone carnivore trying to teach us here? Yes, just as their presence changes the behavior of their prey animals for the health of the ecosystem, Coyotes by their behavior are pointing out that we need to change our behavior for the health of the ecosystem. How well do we listen, how well do we learn? Seriously think about your responsibility as a cat owner ~ to spay and neauter your cats, and keep them inside….remember that ALL DOMESTIC ANIMALS have given up the free and wonderful behaviors that they would enjoy when they were once wild…and so our cats, too!
I have attached a link that shares with you the unbelievable number of songbirds that domestic cats kill in this country. When you adaopt a cat, please remember not only your responsibility to their life, but to the lives of the wild one as well.
Cat with Bird in Mouth
Most often, when conversations about Coyote come up, you can be pretty sure that Coyotes and Cats will always come up, too. But let me share this with you…Coyotes are once again here to teach us how to live on this Earth…just as they taught our Native Americans through their myriads of myths. Coyotes are trying to tell us not only that our domestic cats should stay inside, but also that domestic cats have lost their wild ability to control their own populations…and we need to undestand that, and act accordingly.
The following is an article from Science Daily that I think spreads light on our need to oversee our domestic cats’ behavior ~ Somthing Coyote is trying to tell us.
“If you are like many people, and allow your cat to roam outdoors, there is a distinct possibility that at this moment, Fluffy is stalking an unaware bird, ready to pounce with deadly accuracy. “But wait, Fluffy is well fed”, you say. That doesn’t matter. Cats do not always hunt because they are hungry. They hunt because of an innate instinct for hunting. They hunt because it is, dare I say it, fun. “Well, Fluffy wears a bell and that will serve as a warning”, you say. No again. A bell is useless. Wildlife does not recognize the sound of a bell as a danger signal and even if they did, most cats learn to stalk and seize their prey silently, despite the presence of a bell on their collar.
Cats as our companions
Cats are companion animals, just as dogs are. They were domesticated thousands of years ago in Egypt and were brought to the United States a couple of hundred years ago. Cats evolved from wild species but are now considered their own separate species, Felis catus. Although they retain many of their wild characteristics such as appearance and the urge to hunt, they are now as domesticated as dogs are. Would you allow your dog to roam freely in the neighborhood?
Cats impact on birds and other wildlife:
You have no doubt read about the decline of our native birds. Many bird populations are in a serious and steep decline due to three major causes: habitat destruction, window bird collisions and cat predation. When you add up these losses, the math is chilling. Hundreds of millions of birds are killed by cats each year, and between 100 million and a billion die from window collisions. Factor in habitat loss and you are now looking at an unsustainable loss of these species.
Cats also kill prey animals such as mice, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits and other small mammals, competing with native species such as hawks, owls, foxes and other larger wild predators that depend on these animals for their survival. Statistics show that the combined numbers of birds and small mammals killed each year by cats is close to one billion. Allowing a well fed house cat to compete for wild food sources places native predators at a disadvantage.
The Dangers Cats Themselves Face
You may be wondering if it is cruel to deprive your cat of an outdoor life. Absolutely not. Cats that are allowed outside are more likely to lead shorter lives. Exposure to transmittable and deadly diseases (such as rabies, feline leukemia, distemper and FIV), the constant threat of being hit by a car, as well as being attacked by a dog or a larger predator such as a fox are very real and likely possibilities. In addition, there have been many publicized cases of cats found stabbed, burned and shot by humans. Letting your cat outside can also be a risk for you: cats can contract diseases such as rabies and toxoplasmosis, both of which can be transmitted to humans. Furthermore, an outdoor cat may carry parasites, such as ticks, fleas and worms into the home. Why expose your cat and yourself to these risks?
Enriching your Indoor Cat’s Outdoor Experience
When you really think about it, the greatest gift you can give your cat is to allow it to live a pampered, spoiled life inside your home. For more information on how to keep your kitty a happy indoor kitty, please visit the following website: http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/materials/outin.pdf