Country living is a continuing adventure

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Living in the country, we are reminded every day that there is more to life than the pursuit of income and the struggle to understand events taking place in distant places.

There is an inexorable ebb and flow of wildlife activity that reminds us that survival is an uncertain and risky business for those born without opposable thumbs.

In the mornings, we see fawns like this one nibbling on new growth just a few yards from our deck. In the late afternoons, we see herds of deer silhouetted against the green meadow of a neighbor’s field. These graceful animals create the sense of a gentle pastoral existence.

However, in the long dark hours before dawn, we hear coyotes howling in the woods around our house. The yelps and eerie howls that echo from one quadrant are soon answered from another quadrant. This concert is occasionally interrupted by the high-pitched screams of coyote prey and the frantic yapping of the coyotes in at the kill.

Our cats no longer explore the nearby woods, which is a relief because coyotes are fond of house pets as a change from their customary diets. This USDA photo shows a coyote taking down a sheep, so I imagine they take a toll of the deer in the area.

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I need to investigate a huge brush pile which was created when we cleared away trees for our house lot. I knew we were creating a habitat for small animals, but we may have created a perfect setting for a coyote den. If so, I will have to lay about with chain saw and shovel to remove the coyote welcome mat.

These cunning "singing dogs" need to move out of our immediate neighborhood because we have already noticed a significant reduction in the chipmunk and rabbit population and one of our neighbors has lost a couple of her cats. We don’t have any cats to spare, so the coyotes will soon be history, at least around here.

Keep an eye out for them as they are moving into heavily settled areas now. Earlier this year, a coyote was captured in Central Park on the island of Manhattan. Your neighborhood may be next.

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