By Josh Turiel and Jim Dowd – official pet lovers of the Clam…but KT has cats so her too.
The North Shore is filled with nature (and condos)…(and about a million Dunks franchises). Glorious, beautiful, majestic nature. Red in tooth and claw nature. Because where there’s nature, there’s predators. Hawks and eagles. Seals. Coyotes. Big snakes creepy dudes in Salem keep in aquariums and household kittycats that (some of) you let out of the house. Not so much bears around here, but they’ll be back too at some point.
They all prey on other animals in nature to make a living. That sweet little pussycat (some of) you like to let outside? It’s a freaking serial killer. It kills rodents, birds, and all sorts of critters, and it does it for fun. Oh, and when sweet little kitty leaves a mouse on your steps? It’s trying to show you how to hunt, because it’s convinced you’re pathetic and weak. Also feeding time was exactly thirty six seconds ago, so get on that.
If you drop dead tomorrow in your home, Fluffy’s gonna EAT YOUR FACE. Just saying. “Probably starved to death because such a shitty hunter. Dumbass.” is what she’ll think as she decides which of your earlobes to start with. I mean Hell, it’s 37 seconds past feeding time.
And when kitty’s in the yard hunting, bigger, badder predators are hunting it. Like coyotes. Modern-day coyotes here are the result of cross-breeding between wolves, coyotes, and the occasional domestic stray dog. They’re smart, big, and they’re like Honey Badger – they just don’t care. They’re not afraid of people but they are going to stay away if they can help it, because they’re smart.
They are kind of the punk rock of animals- the 70’s punk rock back when everyone, including the hit TV show “Quincy” was afraid of it. Before Green Day, is what we’re saying. And we’re old enough to remember real punk, so get off our goddam lawns. Also No Hope and other slogans.
Coyotes are all over Cape Ann and the North Shore, and now is the season when we have our ANNUAL COYOTE FREAK OUT because we’re spotting them more as they become more active and fatten up themselves and their new pups for the year. And because we’re all such nature lovers with our cats and small dogs that we let out in the yard, and because we’ve got so many urban farmers with our backyard chicken coops, and all our unsecured trash and bird feeders we’re providing an all-you-can-eat buffet for these beasties. Why go hunt smaller mammals in the woods when they can sneak into your backyard and have a nice chicken parm dinner, but without the sauce, cheese, and breading? And eating your Pomeranian? Well, you left it on a long harness in the yard. The coyote can floss with that, and good old Wile E. thanks you for the attention to his dental hygiene.
And we know chickens are pets, we have lots of sympathy for pets, seriously. But this is just nature. It’s how nature works. Niches: animals find and exploit them. And unless we want to go through the extra work of securing things, they’re going to find a way to exploit weaknesses. Think of them as very furry Vladimir Putins.
Look, we’re not going to get rid of coyotes, even if we try. Poisons won’t work, shooting them won’t work (because there are too many, they’re too hidden, and we don’t want a bunch of people shooting in the heavily urbanized areas where they live). Traps won’t work, and they’re cruel as hell, anyway when they do work – most traps aren’t even legal in this state because we’re somewhat enlightened here.
And frankly, we shouldn’t try and eradicate the coyotes. Predators are healthy for an ecosystem. They might be scary, messy, and awful inconvenient, but we need them. We share this state with the big critters, so be smart. Protect your chicken run with a solid wire fence that’s well-anchored to the ground and can’t easily be dug under. Don’t leave the dog out in the yard. Fluffy may “want to be free”, but keep the damn cat inside and she’ll suck it up. Josh’s three cats (none of whom are named Fluffy, thank you very much) have no knowledge of the outside world and his family keeps it that way. They seem pretty happy anyway.
Unlike many Clam posts, this isn’t meant to call anyone out or anything, especially anyone who’s lost a pet. But for real, go the extra mile securing trash and protecting pets. We’ll all be happier that way. Except Fluffy, because now it’s 43 seconds past.