I was one of the last of the free range children born in America. In the late 70’s and most of the 80’s, my brother and I could be found every weekend in the woods, either with the Boy Scouts or behind our grandparents’ house in Elizabeth Township. There were only two rules: We had to come back when the sun started to set; and we were ordered not to shoot any living things with our Daisy Pump Action BB Rifles. Moving into adolescence and beyond, I left the Great Outdoors for the distractions of the Big City. Now that I am settling into middle age, I am sick to death of the Big City and am searching desperately for Great Outdoors’ phone number, hoping she will answer my calls after all this time.
CLP Main’s collection boasts a wide number of titles for nature lovers of all types: hikers, hunters, campers, fishermen, photographers, and future mountain man hermits such as myself. I was scanning the shelves for some material on Pennsylvania’s wildlife and habitats and imagine my surprise when I found this gem: Eastern Coyote: The Story of Its Success.
So I stay away from nature for a decade or two and come back to find out that Pennsylvania is home to a growing population of coyotes. It’s not exactly a new development; coyotes have been migrating east for some time now. But in my rarefied, city slicker world view, coyotes are emblematic of the American West, scavenging amidst the mesas and plateaus, and of course, Wile E. Coyote.
Apparently the coyotes began to trickle into Pennsylvania around the turn of the century. Scientists believe they came to the Eastern US via a circuitous route through Canada. While in Canada, some coyotes interbred with wolves, resulting in our Eastern coyotes, a breed larger than their Western cousins. These highly adaptable creatures are capable of taking down larger prey, including Pennsylvania’s Whitetails. Virtually everything about these predators is subject to controversy. How these coyotes will impact PA’s habitat and how they will conflict with the ever encroaching edge of new development are topics for great debate amongst scientists, residents and government.
For the larger issues involved with the clash of wildlife and suburbia I found this:
And no discussion of coyotes is complete without a mention of this wonderful title on offer at CLP Main:
Peter Coyote’s biography: Sleeping where I fall.
That guy was into everything, the hippie movement, biker culture, the arts, etc… It’s a great read.