Coyotes and Other Wild Animals "Introduced" in Illinois

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

By Joyce Morrison
The Illinois Leader


Brittany came storming in this morning upset because a huge coyote had been stalking her sheep pen, and her ewes are due to lamb.


Brittany is our 16-year-old niece, and she raises sheep for Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H projects and is quite good at taking care of her animals.


Like any good shepherd, Brittany's first instinct was to get her dadís shotgun and go after the varmint, but her mother wouldnít let her without her dad being home. So her BB gun had to suffice.


Kids on the farm grow up with a gun near the back door. The shells are tucked away in a location nearby. Farm kids instinctively know "the gun" is never to be touched except in an emergency, and they are taught gun safety at an early age.


Pet dogs and cats frequently disappear where we live. They are vulnerable to coyotes. In the St. Louis area of Ladue, where there are exclusive estates, families are devastated because coyotes have moved in and are killing their small pets.


When we begin to mess with the balance of nature, we create problems in the natural food chain, and that is what is happening in Illinois. Add to that the Endangered Species Act, and we have real problems, which does not allow animals on that list to be killed. The ESA does not require that an animal be proven endangered to be listed.


Coyotes were "brought in" or "introduced" to Illinois many years ago. Since they have no known predators, they have flourished. We have seen coyotes in our back yard where a number of outside farm cats come to be fed - or to become coyote food. Needless to say, it does not make me happy to see our pets missing and believe they have become the meal of the day for some coyote.


Coyotes are not protected, and they can be killed But they are very illusive and difficult to track. They have become overpopulated and very destructive and are known to even go after baby calves. The yipping of coyotes at night is especially eerie.


To see a deer was a rare sight when I was growing up in west central Illinois. In fact, I was an adult before I saw a deer in the wild. They are now a common sight - even from my kitchen window. Car accidents have risen considerably in rural areas due to overpopulated deer being hit while crossing the highways.


Turkeys are another "added" wildlife in recent years. It is not unusual for us to see about 30 turkeys on our hillside daily. They are harmless, and we enjoy watching them.


Bald eagles have also been "introduced" into our area. When we first started seeing them it was a delightful sight, these beautiful, majestic birds of prey soaring through the sky. We believe they were placed in our area as a tourist attraction, and they have thrived. The "eagle watchers" now see 200 to 300 eagles on a dayís outing.


As awesome as this sounds, we have to give thought to how much these big birds eat. As long as they can catch fish from the river, it is no problem. But when the river freezes over, all small game that has not been eaten by the coyotes and hawks are in trouble. I have often wondered if they know the difference between a cat or puppy and a wild rabbit. Somehow nuisance animals such as groundhogs, raccoons, skunks and possums thrive, but rabbits and other small animals are becoming scarce.


Timber rattlesnakes are labeled as "threatened," so they cannot be killed. Personally, I doubt if these snakes could ever be killed off, and I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind wanting to have baby rattlers in their yard. Consider letting your children out to play, or pulling weeds in a flower bed, knowing there were rattlesnakes freely living there - and you canít kill them, so they will keep multiplying? This is real "fear factor."


The Brown Tree Snake was introduced to Guam by aircraft. Native jungle birds are now extinct because the snakes have killed them. These snakes also kill humans. Biologists are now using chemicals to try to eradicate the nonindigenous snake, according to John Nelson, expert in the area of property rights.


This would be Guamís problem, except we may soon encounter a similar problem. There is an unsubstantiated report that a helicopter seen hovering over a wooded area in Missouri dropped two boxes. Supposedly, a curious hunter went over to find the boxes contained Eastern Massasaqua Rattlesnakes, which are endangered and cannot be killed.


Sightings of cougar have been reported in Illinois. F. Wayne Baughmanís game tracker camera caught the picture of what appeared to be a cougar on a Pike County farm. A couple of years ago another cougar was found after it had been killed by a train in Southern Illinois. The question remains whether these animals have been "introduced" to Illinois, or if they have been pets released into the wild.


Pictures of wolves howling at the moonlight appear almost romantic or mystical. Seeing them attack and eat an elk or a baby calf or lamb is not as romantic. Daily I get pictures and reports of the carnage caused by wolves, and yet it is illegal to kill them. You are supposed to "contact Federal authorities" to deal with the problem.


Wolves are being "recovered" or replaced in numerous states. The ranchers in the west thought they were safe from wolves until someone got the brilliant idea they should be reintroduced.


Range Magazine told the plight of the Humphrey family while on a camping trip. Wolves attacked their dog and then started for them. Defending his wife and two daughters, Mr. Humphrey shot one of the wolves. They reported the incident when taking their badly injured dog to find a vet.


Eco-radical groups in Arizona insisted Humphrey be placed in prison and fined to set an example as to how serious it is to kill a wolf. After months of emotional trauma fighting for his rights, Humphrey finally won his case.


Since wolves run in packs, they can do a lot of damage to a herd of elk, cattle or any other helpless animal. They are bold and will attack horses and livestock in pens right next to a house. Dogs have to be kept shut up or the wolves will kill them.


Mexican Gray Wolves were introduced into Yellowstone Park in 1995 as part of the Endangered Species Act. They have since been placed in the wouthwest, midwest, and northeastern states.


The Canadian Gray Wolves were taken to Yellowstone Park on a trial basis as well as being introduced in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.


These wolves are an exotic sub-species which weigh 135 pounds and run in packs of 14 or more. It is estimated there are around 700 there. It takes 2,500 elk per year to feed 100 wolves, reports Tom Beergerud from British Columbia, Canada. These are wild animals and very dangerous. They are tracked with radio-controlled collars placed on them when they re released.


It is only a matter of time before we see wolves in Illinois, if they are not already here.


Wisconsin had wolves "introduced" there and they are feeling the effects. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported 92 calves killed in 2001 from nighttime wolf raids. Calves were found with hindquarters shredded, still alive, trying to suckle. A pregnant cow was found ripped open and her fetus torn out. "Calves have been found with crushed throats - dead without losing a drop of blood. Killed, they believe, simply for the thrill," reports the Journal-Sentinel.


The idea of placing wolves, snakes, coyotes, cougars, or any dangerous animal where people live and raise livestock does not come from the people who live there. It is the brainchild of environmentalists who live in the city, where they will not be troubled with the devastation that accompanies these "protected" animals.


The following was written by a spunky "senior citizen of long standing" who lives in one of the western states plagued with wolves. She writes: "I strongly suggest to all those city folks who want wolves to prosper and multiply that the wolves be put in the CITY where there are stray dogs, tons of fast food, litter on the streets and alleys. Lots of food for them. The wolves will adjust to eating rats and mice and cats and dogs instead of lambs and calves. AND the bonus... no drug pushers on the corners, no street gangs at night, no prostitutes on the street cause they would be afraid. Yep, they really need to put those wolves where there is more food and a wide variety of food and where those pretty wolves would not have to hunt so long and far to get something to eat."


My husband and I are not hunters and we love watching the animals - domestic and wild. The animals are not to blame when environmentalists relocate them to non-indigenous areas and overprotect them until they become a problem and eventually have to be killed.


But hopefully, new legislation will give protection to the truly endangered species only. Recklessly introducing nonindigenous animals or reintroducing animals into areas without consideration of the outcome should be stopped. This may be "their" way to enforce the "Wildlands Project," but we should recognize what is happening before it is too late. www.twp.org/


Representative Richard Pombo of California has been chosen Chairman of the House Resources Committee. Hopefully, he will be a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, just as little children pretend to be cowboys and cowgirls, many legislators who envision themselves as big game hunters like Teddy Roosevelt want to reserve the land for themselves. Then we have those who are eco-extremist environmentalists who want the rattlesnakes to have full run of the land.


It is when common sense is thrown out the window and we begin to put the wild animalsí rights above human rights that we must protest.


There is another aspect to the Endangered Species Act that has to do with land control. That is a subject for another day....


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What are your thoughts on this topic? Write us and send us your name and town please, to letters@illinoisleader.com or write Joyce at jmorrison@illinoisleader.com.


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Joyce Morrison
Joyce Morrison lives in Jersey County, Illinois. She is a chapter leader for Concerned Women for America and she and her husband, Gary, represent the local Citizens for Private Property Rights. Joyce is Secretary to the Board of Directors of Rural Restoration/ADOPT Mission, a national farm ministry located in Sikeston, MO. The group's SOWER Magazine features Joyce's writing. Joyce is an activist and serves as a member of the agricultural advisory board of U.S. Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL).

 

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