For Wiley our coywolf trouble is brewing far and wide. The past weekend of February 5th – 7th the annual three day coywolf hunt and contest which is sponsored by the Sullivan County Federation of Sportsmen gave a top prize of $2,000 for the heaviest animal taken of the three days and $200 for the heaviest harvested each of the three days. Competition was open to harvesting anywhere in New York State as well as a number of counties in Pennsylvania that are adjacent to Sullivan County. In the past, hunters have brought in their harvest from anywhere according to some of my hunting buddies. Take note of my continuous use of the term “harvesting” the term used by foresters and hunters as it is more palatable to the general public than the terms “cutting” and “killing”. Hunters in general consider Wiley as a top competitor when deer hunting and therefore must be reduced in numbers. In NY Outdoor News it was reported that in Laguna Beach, California “A brazen coyote came into a home and snatched the family’s 8-year-old Chihuahua from a bedroom occupied by a baby girl and two other small dogs.” This kind of report gets much public support for the type of legislation looming in Pennsylvania that would put a bounty on the coywolf. How much political strength hunters and other coyote haters have in that state remains to be seen, but the bottom line is that for Wiley, of late things have been rough and may get rougher. What many seem to be unaware of, or dismiss entirely, is that no matter the pressure mounted upon Wiley (which has been enormous historically) is the fact that Mother Nature is on his side, having the goal of a prey/predator balance in the long run and will give him the tool of increased fertility. This she has done in the past when he was under duress, and now instead of having three or four pups his mate will give birth to seven or eight. Ah, the brilliance and resilience of Mother Nature! Here is a report on the contest in Sullivan County as told to me by an attendee: approximately 72 taken, the heaviest (winner of the $2,000) was 49.5 pounds.
The secret site for the Golden Eagle research project here in Andes has been producing some fascinating trail cam photos of various wildlife attracted to the pile of road killed deer carcasses. The road kills are in short supply this year as the deer population is quite low because of two deep snow winters. Initially a couple of carcasses had been removed from the site by a very large black bear. They are now being staked down using metal rods. Many coywolves and bobcats have also been taking a large share of the free lunch program (as I call it), but so far there has been no fisher recorded at the site. Many bald eagles and a few golden eagles along with the multitudes of ravens and crows have happily partaken of the ongoing feast. There has been one successful capture of a female golden eagle which was fitted with a GPS transponder. Named Marie by the crew she returned to the site the next day and was trail-cam captured happily continuing her feasting, indicating that she was not stressed out over her capture, handling and fitting, a good sign. Good luck, Marie, as your meanderings will now be recorded and mapped out providing information as to where not to locate wind turbines and other types of towers that could be deadly as you and your friends wander and migrate. I just learned that a second female named Greta, weighing ten pounds, has been captured, processed, fitted with a transponder and released. Just think, both of these magnificent birds have seven foot wingspans!
As I write this it is early February and just today I took notice of four robins doing their usual quick short run, then stop-and-stare routine on the front lawn; this the latest winter sighting of robins in thirty years of bird watching. Same day, a single wild turkey, sex undetermined, sauntered up a back field, both of these observations have always been a sign of spring or is it global warming?
There is a great horned owl that has been duly noted perched on a tall roadside stump who continuously surveilles Bussey Hollow Road here in Andes. On the very first day that he was observed on his lookout he was heavily harassed by the local flock of crows and the occasional raven when suddenly all the avian noise and aerial acrobatics ceased. It was then that the “Squawk on the Street” ceased as, apparently, word was passed: “The intensity and length of our loud verbal and faux physical attacking, this all will not matter. So stop and desist, as this needless effort and expenditure of energy is a waste of time and will not annoy in any way that which is made of PLASTIC.” ~