Powell, Ohio is home to some of the wealthiest people in the greater Columbus area. Multi-million dollar homes grow like weeds in fields that were once part of small farms. Powell also lays claim to some impressive wooded lots, many of which attract those homeowners longing to escape the claustrophobic confines of urban living. But there’s trouble in those woods…trouble of the canine variety.
Coyotes have been inexplicably vilified by people for ages. For the most part the tiny Coyote, rarely tipping the scales over 40 pounds, is a skittish animal that preys upon small rodents but in some areas where habitat and natural food sources become scarce the coyote becomes an opportunistic feeder willing to rummage through trash, raid gardens and even gobble the occasional small pet. Attacks on humans are quite rare and have only occurred in extreme conditions. Pack hunting has been observed in isolated instances but the coyote, though highly social within its species, tends to hunt alone. They are timid animals that shun human contact. Rabies is a disease that can trigger dangerous behavior in any infected animal and seems to be the cause of aggressive behavior in coyotes.
This information is readily accessible today. A quick search on the web will reveal a number of websites more than happy to offer an objective view of the coyote and people in Powell most assuredly have internet access. They should be able to disseminate the truth and figure out how to live with the coyote in their midst. http://www.clemetparks.com/updates/notices/#coyote
It’s not complicated. In fact living with wildlife rarely is. All that is required is an acceptance of certain responsibilities. Responsibilities one would think a person willing to drop 3.5 million dollars on a wooded lot could readily accept. Securing garbage, protecting gardens and keeping an eye on small pets is all it takes and those are habits everybody should practice. The underlying rule is simple: don’t feed the animals. If people avoid that, contact with coyotes is minimal.
But people in Powell can’t be troubled with such monumental tasks. People in Powell want to feed the birds and the squirrels so they can enjoy nature, but they don’t want to contend with reality. Why should they be forced to invest in animal resistant trash receptacles when it would be easier for them to have somebody extirpate the offending wildlife?
Not long ago a man in Powell lamented to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch that he was regularly accosted by an aggressive deer on his way to the top of his drive to collect the morning paper. He seemed to think that the authorities needed to do something to address the issue of deer in his yard, a yard that happened to be adjacent to a large suburban park that encourages a healthy ecosystem. His story seems rather unlikely given that millions of deer encounters occur each week with the same result: the deer bounding away at amazing speed.
The coyote, however has sparked a firestorm. Self-righteous residents want action taken. At a recent meeting one woman, surprisingly inbred-looking for the esteemed village of Powell, pointed out that she lives right next to the woods and her children are at risk. Indeed they are, but more likely that risk comes from the nearby highway or the registered sex offenders in the area. The risk from coyotes is miniscule.
Even so, who put those children at risk? It’s not as if some eco-terrorist unloaded a truck of coyotes in Powell to upset the lives of the privileged and pampered. Islamic extremists in the midwest have proven to be surpisingly inept and don't generally deal with wilf animals. Coyotes have always been there. It’s just that urban sprawl has encroached on their habitat and the poor pups haven’t figured out how to handle it. Coyotes don’t get zoning notices.
Ironically people in Powell are also the fist to complain about raccoons, geese, groundhogs and squirrels; animals that have all enjoyed explosive population growth in light of a paucity of natural predators such as the coyote and its cousins the wolf and the diminutive fox. It’s the irrational fear demonstrated by the residents of Powell that virtually eliminated the predators at the top of the food chain. During the agrarian period of this country’s economic history farmers filled that role to keep their spreads flush. Now nature is making a comeback and people are getting in the way. Some of these people are collectors of animals much more dangerous than the coyote. One Powell resident is facing charges for letting an alligator escape in a local pond and not too long ago a missing boa constrictor turned up at a construction site. Sorry, but one pet alligator is infinitely more dangerous than a million wild coyotes.
It’s unfortunate to see the same sense of entitlement that rendered so many species extinct rear its ugly head in Powell. These people are the invaders. They made the choice to build expensive homes on large wooded lots. The least they could do is take it in stride and appreciate the cycle of life.