Yesterday, I was conducting a tour of the grounds here at stately Goon Manor, and I was reminded of the conspicuous absence of canis latrans, variously known commonly as "jackal" or "coyote." A couple of years ago, we would hear them yipping nearly every night. I could follow the canid conversation of each local pack announcing which side of the vineyard was their territory.
But no more.
The fields are filled with rabbits who wander untroubled around the gardens; the turkeys travel in their mindless earthbound flocks without a care in the world. I'm sure that the deer -- timid and with little use for the short grass by the road -- still swagger peaceably through the woods to the saltmarsh. The neighbors' dogs call out now and again while cats -- feral and otherwise -- wander around the barns, attracted by vermin or perhaps the ghosts of long-gone cattle.
But no coyotes.
They have left, it would seem, for greener pastures.
Which is why I was dismayed to see the weekly overwrought zoophobia feature in the World's Worst Online Newspaper, SouthCoastDotCom. This go-round, the S-T (while still allowing a commentor to use "Joker Obama" as an avatar) assaults readers with a .jpg of a dead goat.
I cannot understand what makes the North Dartmouth coyotes so bloodthirsty. These tedious weekly "journalistic" forays into an allegedly dangerous quarter-mile of real estate in North Dartmouth paint a truly unpleasant picture. Not of the coyotes, but of the occupants of at least three houses.
On Aug. 8, he shot a coyote that had attacked Nikki, his 9-year-old black Labrador retriever, and also shot another coyote that was acting menacingly around a cow on the farm. Gwozdz, a hunter, said he won't hesitate to shoot again.Yeah, I know that I'd be very comfortable in a neighborhood filled with yummy and freely-available food. The only nuisance? The lazy drama queens ("They stole my kids' toys!!1!") and halfwit swampbillies who won't invest in proper fencing. What kind of yokels live in the woods and leave their pets' food laying about?
"They're wiping out all the livestock," he said. "How much can one man take?"
He is also worried that, "if they are getting that crazy during the day, they will go after a kid next. ... Enough is enough."...
...Residents of Collins Corner Road aren't about to take any chances. One person said she was trapped in her car by coyotes in her yard while another said they terrorized her from her porch.
Gwozdz's wife, Kristen, is reluctant to allow their two children to play outside after the coyote attacked their dog during a family barbecue on their 714 Collins Corner Road property.
Neighbors said coyotes have become "very comfortable" in that area.
And what is this malarkey? "Collins Corner Road residents acknowledged they have not reported these incidents to Dartmouth's animal control officer because they don't think the town can do anything about the coyotes."
(I wonder if these are the same residents who acted out impertinently at that meeting with the congressman last month. Oh, that's right, the ones who assaulted Barney were from someplace else.)
I turn in all earnest neighborliness to my friends up by the reservoir and advise you that your very last recourse should not be contacting a local rag that consults the Rupert Murdoch NewsCorp StyleBook before deciding what story to put on the front page. "If it bleeds, it leads," is not a motto to live by proudly.
Owning a farm does not automatically habituate one to the more sensible elements of rural life. But I've lived here for a few seasons -- admittedly, a former dairy farm that's now a vineyard -- and I can't imagine why anyone would be so angry at these nocturnal yodelers. Besides the apparently unavoidable livestock molestations. A few coyote facts:
- they are omnivores and can eat anything, including grass and bugs
- they often eliminate unsightly roadkill
- they are very good swimmers
- they can live anywhere, even on the Moon
- they are not wolves, but share an uneasy trade agreement with them
- they are immensely clever, but they cannot spell or operate motor vehicles
- they travel and hunt in packs, but sometimes miss the best group deals because they don't use common online travel resources like the one Shatner uses
Why so cavalier? How can I be so nonchalant when the rest of town seems petrified betond all reason?
Very simple: I know about dangerous wildlife neighbors. Not just because my current abode once accomodated coyotes.
Because at my old house, the lawn was full of SHARKS.