Paul Colburn
Eastern Coyotes in Connecticut
Master Wildlife Conservationist
May 11, 2021

Canis 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.

Eastern Coyote

Coyote pounce

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).  

Goudarz Molaei
Bracing for the Worst: Climate Change and Accelerating Invasion Potentials
of Mosquitoes and Ticks

Research Scientist, CT Agricultural Research Station
April 27, 2021

Ticks 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 disease-carrying parasites.

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 biting frequencies.

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 America.

Jerry Monaghan
A Census Deep Dive into the South
U.S. Census "Door Knocker"
April 13, 2021

It’s 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 adventure.

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”.

Justin Piccirillo
Hubbard Park - the largest municipally-operated park in New England
Art teacher, political cartoonist, musician, genealogist and historian
March 30, 2021

It’s 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 Hubbard, former 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)

Children's Playground (wading 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 presentation.