It can be heard at almost anytime, but especially after sunset. On calm evenings from the late summer throughout autumn, the high-pitched yelping cry of the eastern coyote occasionally echoes across the landscape under the cover of darkness.
While the Adirondack coyote is known to make its tormented-sounding bark during any season, at this time of year they tend to be more vocal. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Wildlife and Wildlands Network will host a Wolf Activist Workshop at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington in Thursday, September 3rd. Kathy Henley of Wildlands Network, who will moderate the discussions, said the event will focus on direct action in support of wildlife.
Among the topics expected to be discussed are a general introduction to wolf ecology and behavior in the northeast, the uniqueness of why the eastern coyote/coywolf, successful campaigns that include meeting with elected officials, and using letter writing and social media for advocacy. » Continue Reading.
Unlike Little Red Riding Hood, most of us can tell the difference between a wolf and Grandmother. But beyond that: our wolf identification skills are probably not as good as we think.
Consider the names bandied about the popular media today: gray wolf, red wolf, coyote, coywolf, coydog. Which of these are species? What is the real deal with hybrids? What does it mean for conservation? » Continue Reading.
The distinctively feline tracks through the snow in our woods last winter intrigued me. They would follow the narrow ski trail a ways, then meander into the trees or, sometimes, seem to disappear altogether.
There was no way, I thought, a house kitty was so far from home in the deep of winter, and besides, these tracks were a bit large for your average cat.
A new paper from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) looks at the social aspects and public attitudes with regard to a potential mountain lion re-colonization in the Adirondack Park.
The paper finds that more than three-quarters of residents and visitors would support the idea should the animals return on their own. Fifteen percent of Adirondackers polled said they had personally seen a mountain lion, despite the fact they were extirpated from New York State by around 1885. Some 80% said mountain lions still live in the Adirondacks, despite the paucity of evidence for an established population. » Continue Reading.
An Adirondack environmental group has asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to consider reintroducing wolves and cougars in its State Wildlife Action Plan, which is currently in draft form and expected to be finished later this year.
“We cannot rely on natural recolonization for cougars from the west,” Peter Bauer, director of Protect the Adirondacks, wrote in a July 14 letter to the DEC. “Aggressive hunting seasons are starting to reduce the overall populations and it’s unrealistic to think that enough males and females will reach the Adirondacks to establish a viable population. New York leaders should take a hard look at reintroduction of cougars to the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.
When you think of foxes (if you ever do), you likely picture the ginger-coated red fox, like Mr. Tod from Beatrix Potter’s fantastical children’s tales, only without the dapper suitcoat and tweed knickers. It is the less common gray fox, however, that has been wandering the woods and fields near my home – and climbing the trees. » Continue Reading.
Thousands of cougar sightings have been reported in the eastern United States (including the Adirondacks) and Canada in recent decades, but the Fish and Wildlife Service says these animals are either dispersers from western populations or pets that have been released or escaped captivity. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued guidance on preventing conflicts with coyotes. With the onset of warmer weather, many of New York’s resident coyotes are setting up dens for soon-to-arrive pups.
Coyotes are well-adapted to suburban and even urban environments, but usually avoid contact with people. However, conflicts with people and pets can occur as coyotes tend to be territorial around den sites during the spring through mid-summer as they forage almost constantly to provide food for their young. » Continue Reading.
“She’s so cute!” a little girl coos to the snowy white owl. The owl blinks languidly, ignoring her admirer. No doubt she is used to human attention, as she is one of the more popular raptors housed at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science Nature Center (VINS) in Quechee, Vermont. She likewise ignores the decapitated rat in her food bowl, chirruping softly as if dissatisfied with what’s on the menu. I wait patiently, hoping to witness the moment when she gulps it down.
Owls eat their smaller prey whole, or tear larger prey into chunks with their beaks and talons. Sooner or later, that owl will grab the raw rat out of her food bowl with her sharp beak and knock it back like a shot of whiskey. It will slide down her esophagus and into her two-chambered stomach. The first chamber, called the proventriculus, or glandular stomach, secretes digestive enzymes to break down all the easily digestible parts. Much like our own stomach, this chamber will liquefy the soft tissue (the gooey stuff, including muscle, fat and organs). Whatever isn’t digested in the first chamber, such as the bones, fur and teeth, will pass through to the second chamber, called the gizzard. » Continue Reading.
When you ask most folks, which animal is the greatest hunter in the Adirondacks, they’ll usually say “fisher” or “bobcat”, or some other charismatic predator, but I believe the great horned owl may be the most efficient predator that has ever lived on earth – period.
Its approach to hunting is based on a combination of stealth, remarkable powers of prey detection and location, and the application of strength all out of proportion to its size. Victims of a Great Horned Owl’s silent aerial attack typically are not aware of the owl’s presence until they are within the vice-like grip of the owl’s talons. » Continue Reading.
We’ve had several hiking dogs, but two of my favorites were Chino, a wolf-husky mix we brought back from Alaska in 1990, and Roscoe, a nondescript gene pool who looked like a million other mutts you’ve seen, and whose ancestry is anyone’s guess. Our oldest son, Dan, another animal lover, became a veterinarian and later a veterinary cardiologist, partly because of his experiences with Chino. He also does some pro-bono care, which led to our adopting Roscoe as a pup around 2005.
Both of these canids did a fair amount of High Peaks hiking with us. Chino hiked his last peak, Dix, in 2002, and died in 2004, a year before Roscoe came on the scene, and continued the hiking tradition. The other common thread between them? Porcupines! » Continue Reading.
Beware! Pictured here are your adversaries—the official enemies of the state. Don’t be distracted by the pretty colors, lovely feathers, or furry critters. These are vermin, and citizens are urged to kill them at every opportunity. The poster, by the way, represents only the top nine targets from a group of notorious killers, presented here alphabetically: bobcat, Cooper’s hawk, crow, English sparrow, goshawk, gray fox, great gray owl, great horned owl, house rat, “hunting” house cat, lynx, porcupine, red fox, red squirrel, sharp-shinned hawk, snowy owl, starling, weasel, and woodchuck. Kingfishers and a number of snakes were later added, and osprey were fair game as well.
While some of the phrases used above—“official enemies … kill them at every opportunity … new job requirement”—might sound like exaggerations, they were, in fact, official conservation policies of New York State a century ago.
It was all part of a Conservation Commission campaign in the early 1900s to eradicate undesirables (their word, not mine) from the food chain. The above-named animals were deemed undesirable in the realms of farming and hunting. They were just doing what comes natural—killing to eat, or gathering food—but those foods included barnyard animals, garden and field crops, and the vaguely defined “sporting” game that hunters treasured, particularly grouse, pheasant, and rabbits. Lest you think eradicate is too strong a word, the actual order in one state pamphlet was, “Destroy the Vermin.” » Continue Reading.
There’s a steady stream of water pouring off the roof in front of the big window. There are no more icicles, and the shingles are showing for the first time in months. It finally feels like spring.
I sat outside most of the afternoon, relaxing in a lawn chair enjoying a good book. As I sat there soaking up the sun, the snow melted around me. The chicken coop roof is clear after being baked in the sun all day, and the snow fossils of old footprints are melting away.
The chickens have been enjoying the warmer weather and are basking in the sunlight. For a couple of months, I hadn’t gotten more than an egg per day from the three girls, and sometimes not even that. But in the last week, I’ve gotten more than a dozen. » Continue Reading.
The Northeast Wolf Coalition, a group of national, regional and local conservation organizations, has submitted a statement to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in opposition to its 2013 proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States.
In a statement isued to the press the Coalition says it took action in response to FWS’ reopening of the comment period as a result of a peer review report by an independent panel of scientists produced by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at UC Santa Barbara. According to the report, FWS’ move to strip federal protection from nearly all gray wolves in the lower 48 states is based on insufficient science. » Continue Reading.