This is a fox. He visited us while we were staying in a cabin on Prince Edward Island a few summers ago. We thought he was cute. We thought he was less cute when we discovered that he'd gnawed the straps off our daughter's rather expensive sandals that she'd left out on the porch overnight. And thus we learned that these cute little critters can be pests.
We live in what is officially described as a village. Before we moved here, I didn't know that such things as villages existed in Canada. When I look out the front windows of our house I see, across Route 114, and behind our neighbours' houses, fields--fields where cattle graze during the summer. When I look out our back windows I see woods at the edge of our rather wild yard. Deer come down in winter and nibble on the wild rose, apple and lilac branches in the yard, causing us to wonder if we will have any blossoms this year. Most people in the area drive pick-up trucks. All this to say, that we are living in a rural area.
However, I didn't realize just how rural we were until recently receiving a village newsletter informing the village people that a Varmint Officer was going to be hired. Varmint. Until this point, I had thought a "varmint" was something that one would see in cartoons from the 1950s and '60s (eg. Wile E. Coyote, a personal favourite of mine), or hear referred to in fine TV shows, such as Roy Rogers or the Lone Ranger.
My trusty dictionary informs me that a varmint is "an irritating or obnoxious person or animal." Who knew? It seems I would have more than a few varmints in my acquaintance! But it leads me to wonder just exactly who the varmint hunter will be after.
It would seem that our little village problem has made it into the city newspaper. "Borough Acts on Coyote Problem: Puppy killed, residents upset over roaming coyotes." The article goes on to describe a woman in a near-by county who "engaged in hand to hand combat with a coyote that tried to snatch her puppy...". (Now that's a sight I would like to see--woman and varmint engaged in hand to hand combat!). Our village mayor is quoted as saying, "I don't want to cause panic...(but)...What if next time it's someone's kid?"
The paper also informs us that "DNA testing showed that the Eastern coyote gets its huge size--far bigger than western coyotes--from interbreeding with wolves during their migration east." So our eastern breed not only have hands but are humungous!