Eastern Coyotes in Connecticut
May 11, 2021
latrans (a.k.a. coyote) is a wild animal to be feared, right? Wrong.
Speaking to 28 Y’s Men of Meriden by Zoom on May 11, Paul Colburn,
Master Wildlife Conservationist and avid outdoorsman, presented a slide
program on the habitat, diet, behavior and reproduction of eastern
coyotes in Connecticut.
Not native to North America,
coyotes first populated the American Midwest centuries ago, but expanded
their range into New York by the 1930’s and were first spotted in
Connecticut in the 1950’s; today, they number 4000-6000 in the state and
populate every town. But they have a bad (but undeserved) reputation as
being evil and sneaky, resulting in one being killed every minute in
America. Actually, they are mid-sized predators that hunt small game for
survival but who avoid humans and quickly retreat when encountered.
In general, coyotes are not
a threat to humans. In the past century in North America, only two human
deaths have been reported: a child in America and a small woman in
Canada, despite millions and millions of encounters between the two
species. Coyotes live 5-7 years and range up to 10 miles in Connecticut.
Primarily carnivorous, they will also eat berries, apples and acorns.
But their primary meat diet comes from small rodents and rabbits, along
with occasional domesticated cats (keep them inside at night), chickens,
sheep and pigs.
Unlike bears, coyotes form
true family units, mating for life. After breeding mid-winter followed
by birth of about seven pups in springtime, they soon are taught hunting
skills by their parents; months later, they are gently “dispersed” out
of the nuclear family to make room for the next birth cycle and to form
their own families. And some advice for humans: never let pets run loose
at night, never feed coyotes (to avoid habituation), secure all garbage
cans, and watch for erratic behavior (possibly a sign of rabies).
Bracing for the Worst: Climate Change and Accelerating
of Mosquitoes and Ticks
Research Scientist, CT Agricultural Research Station
April 27, 2021
and mosquitoes – not our best friends to say the least. Presenting by
Zoom to 29 Y’s Men of Meriden on April 27, Goudarz Molaei, research
scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and Yale
School of Public Health, outlined the worsening population of these
A major cause of the expanding density
and range of these parasites can be traced to global warming. Human
illnesses in America have risen from 27,000 to 91,000 annually in the
past three years. Climate change has caused these vectors of human
diseases to increase in density, with involvement of wider human
populations. Warmer temperatures result in longer seasons of mosquito
and tick activity with increased overwintering survival, increased
reproduction ability, extended distribution range and survival at higher
altitudes. Additionally, increased temperatures result in increased
For mosquitoes, increased
precipitation leads to an expanded quantity of breeding sites. Commonest
in America are the Asian Tiger mosquito and the Asian Bush mosquito.
Globally, hundreds of millions of humans have been infected by these
parasites with Malaria, Yellow Fever, West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease.
In America, Eastern Equine Encephalitis is the most pathogenic
arthropod-borne disease with a 40% mortality rate; in Connecticut, it is
especially concentrated in the southeastern part of our state.
Asian Tiger mosquito
Lone Star tick
The Lone Star tick and the American
Dog tick, concentrated along the Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Cape
Cod, have been the chief tick parasites in this country. But newcomers
have arrived; the Asian Longhorned tick, first discovered in New Jersey
in 2017, has now spread to 15 states and has become a serious livestock
pest. And the Gulf Coast tick, proliferating along the Gulf and
southeastern Atlantic coastlines, was first identified last year in our
state, to which are added “hitchhiking” ticks from Africa and South
A Census Deep Dive into the
U.S. Census "Door Knocker"
April 13, 2021
not a job for the faint of heart; you might get arrested and handcuffed
by the local sheriff. Addressing 31 Y’s Men of Meriden by Zoom on April
13, Jerry Monaghan, recent Census Bureau enumerator (a.k.a.
“door-knocker”) used a PowerPoint show to relay his 48 days’ experience
in rural districts of Louisiana and Georgia, where he worked to gain
personal information from mostly Black households in the Deep South.
During the 2020 Census, Monaghan,
retired from an active multichannel career as co-founder and former
president of the Association of Bridal Consultants as well as teaching
design and practicing marketing for the Army Reserve for more than a
quarter century, answered a call for Census workers, initially working
in New England. Counting America’s population (currently 330 million)
relies on armies of workers. But on 24-hours’ notice, Monaghan was
abruptly transferred to rural Louisiana and later to Georgia, a 48-day
Working 10-hour days first in the LA
community of Jones (population 250) and city of Monroe and following
COVID guidelines, breakfasts were obtained at local McDonald’s and other
meals at local diners, while lodging was at local dwellings as hotels
were not open. On one occasion, a sheriff arrived following reports that
an unknown White man was in the area asking questions. Monaghan noted
that while a few residences were nice, the majority reflected the deep
poverty of these mostly Black families. Using GPS to locate some homes,
as a federal employee he could ignore “No Trespassing” signs, query a
neighbor if no one responded at the home, and note that fines up to $500
could be levied for refusing to cooperate. One resident, citing COVID
risks, warned Monaghan to “Stay back, I’ve got it”.
Louisiana mobile home, desperately in need of repair, with a new
Infiniti SUV parked outside
Adjacent, competing Baptist churches in Louisiana
With less than 24 hours’ notice, he
was transferred to Tifton, Georgia, a 12-hour drive. Most residents were
quite friendly, but again severe poverty was prevalent. At one
residence, the entire front yard was coated with empty beer cans. Common
answers to what happened to your mailed census form included, “I’m too
busy”, “I did it online”, “I didn’t trust it”, “too much snooping” and
“you’re a government worker”.
Hubbard Park - the largest
municipally-operated park in New England
political cartoonist, musician, genealogist and historian
March 30, 2021
a truly remarkable piece of land: Hubbard Park, at 1800 acres the
largest municipally operated park in New England and hallmark of Meriden
since 1898. Speaking by Zoom to 37 Y’s Men of Meriden (a record online
attendance) on March 30, Justin Piccirillo (art teacher, political
cartoonist, musician, genealogist and historian) projected a slideshow
to outline the extraordinary history of this gift to Meriden by Walter
president of the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company.
Hubbard, born in 1828, attended the
finest schools and purchased his first shop in 1851; he subsequently
married, but following her premature death, he never remarried. His
family owned Meriden’s “Hanging Hills” and following the city’s 1882
decision to allow recreational areas, he embarked a year later on a
round-the-world trip to view the finest parks, followed by construction
of Hubbard Park. Opened in 1898, Hubbard donated it to the city in 1900.
Images included Crow Hollow, the
Grecian Temple (gazebo), Fairview Observation Point, the Dovecote
(decorative home for birds) and the Waiting Station (later known as the
Skating House). After Hubbard observed some youngsters aggressively
selling peanuts, he banned commercial sales within the park. Other
slides included the Pavilion and Mortar on Mortar Hill (the mortar being
melted by government order for scrap after WW I, with the unintentional
detonation of a cannonball), Face Rock (face-shaped in a stone wall with
marbles placed for eyes), Merimere Reservoir and the construction of
Castle Craig, designed by 19 y/o Stuart Davis Douglass.
The park, initially very popular,
later became subject to decay and vandalism for more than 10 years, but
underwent restoration by Craig Shroeder, followed by ongoing attention
by several Meriden Parks and Recreation directors. Today a favorite for
hikers is the Halfway House (so named due to its location halfway up to
Castle Craig). And of interest: in 1982, the Mayor of Cincinnati offered
$10 million to purchase Castle Craig! Nowadays the park hosts several
outstanding annual events including the Daffodil Festival and the
Festival of Silver Lights.
Early car in Hubbard Park (1900)
pool, fountain, secured boat named Frolic,
trout pool (1898)
Hubbard and his wife are buried in the
chapel (which he also built) at Walnut Grove Cemetery. Piccirillo has
described this story in his Feb. 2021 book “Hubbard Park”. An energetic
question and answer session (lasting over 30 minutes) followed this