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Our dogs sing.  Ok, they bark too (and too much at times) but they are also known to break into “family sings”.  The song consists of howls with some warbles and yipping added in.  We believe that they have learned the lyrics and the tune from the coyote cousins who frequently visit.

Zoe sings a different melody.  When she first broke out into her long drawn-out howl it sent shivers down our spines.  Now, I’ve only driven across Minnesota once after the 1997 nationals in Michigan but I supposed that there could be wolves there and that Zoe could have learned to sing from them.  I had to ask Garrett.  His answer:

“We do have wolves here…very few coyotes around as the wolves kill them off.  The wolves’ ranges stop just south of our land a little ways so the coyotes are quite populous further south of here and are quite daring.

“I’ll take the wolves any day.”

I had to wonder about the last part of that statement.  There has lately been an outcry in Eastern Oregon where wolves are reappearing, migrating from Idaho.

But an article in the Oregonian in the last couple of days shed some light:  “Decline in big predators wreaking havoc on ecosystems, OSU researchers say”.

Excerpts from the article:

“The report, whose authors included two Oregon State University professors, found that the range of all the largest terrestrial predators in North America — including wolves, cougars and bears — has declined in the past 200 years.

Meantime, the range of nearly two-thirds of smaller North American ‘mesopredators’ has expanded, including territory for coyotes, several foxes, skunks and raccoons.

* The reduction in wolves has led to a surge in the number of coyotes that attack pronghorn antelope and sheep, the researchers said. Attempts to control coyotes have cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The smaller predators are more populous and harder to control. They also adapt more readily to human development — munching on garbage and pet food, for example.

The study has particular significance for Oregon, where the wolf is gradually returning and state officials and wildlife advocates are battling over plans to control cougar populations.

It’s not clear which mid-level predators benefit from declines in cougar populations, Ripple said. But it’s clear that coyotes thrive as wolves decline.”

Speaking of cougars, there is another article dealing with them: “Oregon proposes expanding its cougar hunts”. The Medford area is one of the places in the study.

We have bears, too.  Sometimes a poor little baby bear will make the mistake of wandering into town: see Mail Tribune article “Wayward Bear Drown”s.

P1030083_edited-1I shot this picture through the car window on my way home from work yesterday.  Taken near the intersection of Table Rock Road and Highway 234.

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