Invasive Species – The Northeastern Coyote

To start this off, I have to give a small backstory about where I am from. I was born and raised in Newport, Rhode Island. Now, when I tell people that I’m from Rhode Island, usually their first response is either a little quip about how small my state is or they ask me what it’s like living on an island. I usually respond with, “Well, Rhode Island actually isn’t an island.” And then they get disinterested. However, the ironic part, is that I do actually live on an island IN Rhode Island. This island is called Aquidneck Island and was originally all native america farmland before it was settled by foreigners aka “Pilgrims.” 

          For years, this island had an amazing range of wildlife and farm stock. This was due to the fact that it was an island and that no predator could reach it unless it knew how to swim really really well. So for a long time, there was a plethora of wildlife and the only apex predator that existed were the Red-tailed hawks. 

         However, this all changed sometime in the late 20th Century. One winter, there was a huge blizzard. It may have even been the blizzard of 1995 even. Either way, that particular winter was so cold that it actually froze one of the rivers that protected Aquidneck Island. It was the Sakonnet River to be precise. As if the coyotes had been waiting for this too happen, the second they could cross the frozen river, they did so. 

         That spring, there was such a noticeable drop in wildlife that it literally seemed as if some sort of animal plague had come through and wiped out all of the smaller animals. Every year since, the numbers of coyotes have grown. The river has not frozen over since, but because the coyotes have no natural predators on the island, they flourish. It has gotten so bad these days that even pets and people have started being attacked. 

        There is now an island-wide bounty on all things coyote. However, it seems that they are still growing in numbers. Something will be done, but only time will tell if it will be done soon enough. The most terrifying part about these coyotes is that when they are on the hunt, and they catch something, the entire pack howls like mad dogs and they can be heard for miles. It has certainly changed the ecosystem in which I live in, but hopefully balance will be restored soon enough.

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7 thoughts on “Invasive Species – The Northeastern Coyote

  1. Dang, this is such an interesting case of invasive species taking the initiative to travel somewhere other than their native habitat! Generally, this kind of thing is the result of human interference, whether that entails bringing a plant/animal out of its typical environment or changing the topography of the land in some way. This is a combination of smart coyotes and a blizzard so big it sounds like a freak accident, if you can call a sudden shift in weather patterns an “accident.” I hope that something can be done about the coyotes and that there’s an improvement in the range of wildlife on your island!

  2. That sounds horrible! Not just for the animals and people but the coyotes too. I live in New Hampshire and although we have coyotes they don’t bother us much at all.

  3. Coyotes can be a real problem as an invasive species.Their aggressiveness paired with their intellect can be a very dangerous combination. I live about 2 hours north of here and we’ve had a problem with them because some of their habitat was cleared out for development, but in your case the problem seems a lot worse.

  4. I find this really interesting! The first thing that comes to mind is the period where temperature dropped dramatically a long time ago. It’s a little vague in my memory, but I remember something about animals migrating all over the planet thanks to water freezing and creating bridges, so seeing this happen again is kind of cool.

  5. Personally I love coyotes! I know that people feed them and thus they learn that people can be a source of food. So it’s really our fault. We are teaching them to stay.

  6. I find the coyote’s crossing as a sort of form of natural selection as they probably crossed the river in some sort of escape from the blizzard, probably to find some kind of shelter and just happened to come across the island, but since it’s caused an imbalance in the ecosystem, it’s probably going to end up negatively in the coyotes starving from the lack of food that they’ve razed from the island.

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