Environment of Lynn Woods
Learn about the environment of Lynn Woods. This section discusses the various abimals and plant life of teh Lynn Woods. Click a link below to learn more:
by Lisa Capone-Condon
(originally published in September 2004 newsletter)
One late May evening, I was among a handful of people watching as a female coyote, captured earlier the same day in an Everett cemetery, bolted from the cage that had held her while researchers examined and radio tagged her for further study. As Jon Way of Boston College's Urban Ecology Institute raised the cage door, the animal sprinted away from the small gathering of humans, slowing to look back over a russet shoulder before disappearing into the brush.
Viewing a wild coyote close up anywhere is a noteworthy experience. To see one run off to her pups somewhere in a city burial ground—a stone's throw from traffic, commerce, and urban backyards—was a thrill on several levels. While we are so used to sharing our neighborhoods with squirrels and skunks that they hardly merit a second glance, here was something truly wild—a creature that represents an untamed world we thought we had lost, or maybe didn't know we ever had.
Coyotes trotting through urban North Shore communities might seem unusual, but it's not as uncommon as residents might think. For about two years, Revere High School science teacher David Eatough and his students have been participating in Way's study of coyote habits in communities just north of Boston. The study is the first research project in New England to focus on the habits of coyotes in urban and suburban settings, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife. It will augment state wildlife officials' understanding of "urban" coyotes, and has the potential to dispel myths about dangers coyotes might pose to humans. As human communities sprawl and pockets of wildlife habitat shrink, many animals—coyotes included—have adapted to living among homes, office buildings, and highways.
Eatough reports that people generally have little to fear from these wild canine neighbors. Coyotes usually steer clear of humans unless people feed them, either intentionally or by carelessly leaving pet food, barbeque scraps, or other tempting tidbits outside. In other words, coyotes are unlikely to bother you unless you invite trouble.
"The data we collect continues to support our belief that coyotes do not want to interact with humans. The fact that coyotes have lived in urban areas such as Everett and Revere for a least a decade without most residents being aware of their presence is testament to how successfully coyotes avoid interactions," said Eatough. "Seeing a coyote in residential areas or during the day are not signs that coyotes have lost their fear of humans. It is a clear indication that humans have destroyed and encroached into areas coyotes have lived in."
At Lynn Woods, Ranger Dan Small reports that he sees coyotes about once a month, and finds their scat frequently along the park's trails. They are most common on the golf course, and between Pennybrook Road and Birch Pond— an area people tend to avoid, giving coyotes plenty of space to be left alone, Small said.
In Everett, Way and Eatough have been tracking the movements of the female coyote, "Maeve," since May and have now also radio tagged her mate, "Jet." The study of this pair and their offspring continues, promising important insights about wildlife management in the region.
Science aside, there's something comforting in the fact that centuries of development, industrialization, and urban sprawl haven't eliminated the ability of this land to support wild creatures like coyotes. Just knowing Maeve and her family are out there—just beyond our reach—makes the landscape of the North Shore more valuable and complete.