Coyote Pups

Coyote Pups







Hyannis-based retailer Powderhorn Outfitters launched its first coyote killing contest on the Cape in January 2018. The second annual contest ended on March 10 of this year. These two contests awarded cash prizes to hunters who brought in the largest coyote and the most cumulative weight. Raffle tickets were also awarded for each coyote weighed in at the store. In both contests, protesters bearing signs expressing their condemnation of the competition lined the road outside the store.

Public Outcry: Animal Protection Over Murder for Sport.

After hearing the public outcry on the issue, Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, along with state Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown, and others in the Cape delegation were able to bring the issue to the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

A coalition of leading wildlife protection organizations joined Cyr and Peake in a two-year crusade to ban wildlife killing contests in the Commonwealth; their efforts were realized on December 18, 2019 when  MassWildlife staff and the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted to ban the killings.

This brings an end to events like those sponsored by Powderhorn Outfitters in which participants competed to kill the largest, smallest, or the greatest number of animals for cash and prizes. Winners of wildlife killing contests often proudly post photos and videos on social media that show them posing with piles of dead animals, often before disposing of the animals in “carcass dumps,” away from the public eye.

Wildlife agencies and professionals across the country have expressed concerns about killing contests not only because they reflect badly on responsible sportsmen and sportswomen, but because they also contravene modern, science-based wildlife management principles.

Science-Based Wildlife Management in Massachusetts

“This is a terrific example of constituents engaging with state government and challenging us to do better,” Cyr said. “I’m glad to see action was taken,” Cyr said of the new regulations. “We were able to end these wildlife killing contests in the Commonwealth and make sure that we have scientific based wildlife management.”

In 2018, more than 70 renowned conservation scientists issued a statement citing peer-reviewed science that refutes claims that indiscriminately killing coyotes permanently limits coyote populations, increases the number of deer or other game species for hunters, or reduces conflicts with humans, pets or livestock.

In fact, by disrupting coyote pack structure, randomly shooting coyotes may increase their populations and lead to more conflicts. Nonlethal, preventive measures are most effective at reducing conflicts with wildlife.

Wildlife Killing Is Destructive to Ecosystems

Wildlife killing contests are also destructive to healthy ecosystems, within which all wildlife species play a crucial role. Coyotes and foxes in particular provide a range of ecosystem benefits, including controlling rabbit and rodent populations and restricting rodent- and tick-borne disease transmission.

In just the past five years, California, Vermont, New Mexico and Arizona have taken a stand against cruel, unsporting and wasteful wildlife killing contests. California banned the awarding of prizes for killing furbearing and nongame mammals in 2014; New Mexico and Vermont outlawed coyote killing contests in 2019 and 2018, respectively; and Arizona prohibited the events for predatory and furbearing species this year.


Coyotes are still legally slaughtered for sport on Cape Cod

While we add this new measure of protection for Cape Coyotes, our reveling is tempered knowing this decision has done nothing to change the Coyote hunting season length, methods used and unlimited bag limits per hunter.

Consider this from sage Provincetown animal activist, Peter Souza:

“Wildlife, especially the Coyote, living on Cape Cod are constantly struggling to survive in extreme conditions.  Any semblance to living a peaceful existence is destroyed by a 6 month daily free for all killing season using any caliber desired, up until midnight. Case in point, the Coyote; a Wiley and Magnificent apex predator, Steward of the Capes ecosystem, has been the brunt of unimaginable atrocities. The killings and torturous practices inflicted by hunters as legal, will continue until the Coyote is granted full protection. This holiday season I humbly pray we bestows the gift of life to the coyote, a life void of terror, a life to raise and nurture their young, to let them live and thrive among the beauty and splendor that Cape Cod has to offer. Let us ensure the coyote will not only be here for our future generation but also for theirs. Today’s generation will determine the fate of the coyote, I pray we don’t let it be too late.”

Birds in winter

How can we do our part to help them survive the harsh winter?

  • High energy, nutritious food
  • Access to clean water
  • Refuge from winter winds, rain and snow

1) Stock up on bird seed. Birdseed mixes containing sunflower seeds and nuts are high in fat and calories and provide high energy fuel for maintaining body heat and strength. Scatter seeds in sheltered places on the ground for ground feeders. Keep birdseed dry to prevent bacteria and mold buildup.

2) Provide suet cakes. Suet is an important source of high energy nutrition and is especially valuable in cold weather, as it provides the easily metabolized fat that birds use to stay warm. Animal fat is easily digested and metabolized by many birds, including woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, jays and infrequently, wrens, cardinals and warblers.

3) Provide access to fresh clean water. Water is just as important in winter as in summer. Birds need water to stay hydrated, but also use water to preen feathers, important to maintain good insulation against the cold. Even in places where there is abundant snow and ice, birds are forced to burn calories and sacrifice precious body heat to melt the snow.

To keep water from freezing, consider an immersion style water heater for the birdbath.  Also, help birds stay safe and dry by adding several stones and branches to the bird bath to allow for perching and keeping feet out of the water.  Bird baths with gentle slopes are recommended.  Some birds do bathe in the winter.  Do not add glycerin to prevent water from freezing.  It can stick to feathers and destroy their insulation value.

4) Provide shelter from wind and cold. Birds find shelter in hedges, evergreens, brush/leaf piles, even under decks.  Leaves, branches, and grass in a brush pile provide excellent insulation and shelter not only from the harsh weather, but also provide protection for smaller birds from predators like cats and hawks.  Shelter closer to the ground is warmer.

5) Keep cats indoors. Though this is a highly controversial topic, with flawed statistics, keeping cats indoors does impact predation of birds.

Recipe for a Homemade Holiday Bird Treat


Bundt Pan

Large Pot

Wide Ribbon

3 Blocks of plain suet  (available at various garden centers, home improvement stores and on the Internet)

½ cup of peanut butter

9 cups of bird seed

Assorted dried fruits and berries


  • Over low heat, melt the three blocks of suet in a large pot. Stir constantly. Do not allow to boil.
  • Once the suet is melted, add the peanut butter and let the combined mixture fully melt. Stir as needed.
  • Combine the liquid suet mixture with the bird seed. Mix well.
  • Spray the Bundt pan well with cooking spray and layer the bottom with berries and fruit
  • Fill the Bundt pan with the liquid suet mixture.
  • Let stand in the refrigerator overnight to harden. Once hardened carefully remove the mold from the pan.
  • Tie a ribbon around the wreath and hang outdoors for the birds to enjoy. Make an extra wreath and give to a friend.

Note:  Some reviewers have noted that the mixture was difficult to remove from the Bundt pan and that putting it in the freezer solved the problem.

by James Downey

One evening in September, a guinea fowl living in the woods across the street from my house in South Harwich was struck by a car while crossing the road. It was the male of a large feral family consisting of a hen and her 10 keets.

I found it injured in my driveway and as I approached it, the bird hobbled into very thick shrubbery. I raced to my computer and googled phone numbers of local animal rescue organizations. To my frustration all I got were recordings. It was late in the day and the sun was setting,

I made one last attempt to Friends of Cape Wildlife. To my surprise someone answered!  Peggy from Hyannis and Debby from Chatham soon arrived. After frantically searching for 15 minutes or so in almost total darkness, Peggy was able to grab the guinea and place it in a container.

The ladies cared for the guinea through the night and took it to a veterinarian the following morning. Surgery repaired a damaged leg and today the bird is back with it’s family and doing great. If not for Peggy, Debby, and the Friends of Cape Wildlife hotline, I don’t think this injured bird would have made it through the night.

by Beck O’Brien

While the Atlantic waters of Cape Cod might be infamous for one species of predator with frightful jaws, for pond-goers it is a run-in with the common snapping turtle that is generally met with shrieks. And while giving snapping turtles their space—whether at the pond, river, or marsh—is generally the rule of thumb, what happens when one tries to cross the road? Is it safe to help?

Photo by Heather Fone

My dad (Kevin) ran into this situation several years ago while exploring the dirt/sand road between Great Hollow Beach and Corn Hill in Truro in his Toyota 4Runner. Today, this road is used for walking and biking and has obstructions on either end to discourage vehicles from entering.  At the time, Kevin was able to drive directly onto the path.

More than halfway down the road was an obstruction perched atop the crest in between divots created from years of tires compressing the sand. It was a creature as big as a dinner plate, with a ridged shell, beefy, wrinkly legs, a thick spiky tail, and a large head. For Kevin, turning around was impossible and backing up did not feel like an option. So he got out of the car and tried yelling at the snapping turtle as one might yell at a raccoon in their trash: “Hey! Get, get! Move it along!”

This did nothing to phase the snapping turtle, who was enjoying a nice sun bath. Kevin then decided to pick it up. Grasping the turtle with each hand on either side of its shell, Kevin lifted it a few inches above the ground. Hisss! The turtle stretched out its head, opened its mouth, writhed its limbs, and made a loud cat-like noise. Startled, Kevin dropped the turtle and swore.

Two bicyclists came by and offered no assistance. Kevin found a stick and pushed the turtle’s shell from behind. Again, the turtle squirmed all its limbs, stuck out its head and hissed. At this point, Kevin felt trapped. If the turtle wouldn’t move, how was he going to get down the road?

A common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) rests in the middle of a road. The snapper is commonly seen crossing roadways near bodies of water that the turtles inhabit during the nesting season as the females look for a place to lay eggs.

“It’s just me and you!” He told the turtle. He proceeded to prod it with the stick. It was still agitated but began to slowly climb over the

crest it was sitting on towards the other side of the path. Kevin got the turtle to the point where he could swerve the car a bit to the other side and avoid hitting it.

Using a blunt object to prod the snapping turtle—like the stick Kevin used—is a safe way to encourage it across the road, according to the Turtle Rescue League. Never try to grab a turtle by the tail as that can damage it’s spine.

Worried about getting your finger bitten off? There’s a good chance that won’t happen on Cape Cod. The common snapping turtle’s relative, the alligator snapping turtle, is the one capable of such a feat. It is found in the southeastern region of the U.S. You are, however, still at risk of being bitten on the Cape, especially since the common snapping turtle can extend its neck as long as its body—up to 19 inches.

Caution is key. And if the turtle is in significant danger or injured and cannot be moved, you can always call the Friends of Cape Wildlife hotline: 508-375-3700.







Incubator babies

In the aftermath of a very successful fundraising campaign, Friends of Cape Wildlife delivered a Brinsea incubator to Jennifer Taylor, Animal Care Coordinator, and Stephanie Ellis, Executive Director, at Wild Care in Orleans this spring 2018. The staff and volunteers were excited to receive the new unit.  Jennifer was especially happy about the design of the incubator, saying that due to the height they could create double decker housing, adding a second shelf to accommodate twice as many animals during the heavy baby season.

A second incubator was delivered to rehabber Mary Morelli who wrote “I am one of the lucky ones to receive a new incubator. It is sooooo nice. The old unit I had didn’t work well, and I couldn’t trust it to leave it for any length of time.  The new one is so easy, and I don’t have to worry about the little darlings roasting or freezing. The litter of five squirrels are comfortable now with more room.”
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A very unusual visitor to Cape Cod!   During Hurricane Sandy this beautiful brown pelican was storm blown and ended up on Nantucket.  He was found at the Nantucket Transfer Station eating garbage and was transported to the Cape Wildlife Center for treatment for exhaustion and a wing droop.   The staff and volunteers all enjoyed taking care of this unusual patient and the pelican definitely enjoyed the TLC he received, especially the ‘flying fish’ delivery!  After a couple of weeks of rehabilitation, he was transferred to the Rhode Island Wildlife Center because they also had a storm blown brown pelican and the pair were ultimately flown back to Florida where they were released back into the wild.

Video and photos by Heather Fone Ⓒ 2018

Cape Wildlife Logo

Would you like to be involved in helping wildlife on Cape Cod?

Come to the new volunteer orientation being offered this fall.

Cape Wildlife Center

Saturday October 14 1-3pm

4011 Main Street, Barnstable

Cape Wildlife Center’s mission is to protect wildlife through rescue, rehabilitation, and education. Each year Cape Wildlife Center receives nearly 2,000 patients and answers thousands of wildlife calls from the public. Cape Wildlife center receives only sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. No domestic or feral species are received or treated.
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by Caryn Ritchie

Mike Kochelin is the son in law of my neighbor Carol. I have known him and his family for about 15 years.  He is an avid wildlife photographer, and a recently retired engineer.  He is very much an advocate of all forms of wildlife but he especially loves birds.

A few years back he helped me rescue a swan with fishing line in his neck.  Thanksgiving night we were together having a drink and he asked what he could do to help Cape Wildlife Center and I kiddingly suggested he buy the facility and run it.

He wasn’t ready to do that and asked if there was anything else he could do to help.  I told him we needed to get an osprey, whose nest hit power lines and caught on fire, to Florida ASAP as the weather was getting too cold up here and it needed further rehabilitation.  He volunteered to drive it there nonstop.  The next day I checked with him again when neither of us was drinking, and he was still willing and excited to do this.

Cape Wildlife’s Center Dr. Lynn Miller cleared it with HSUS and plans were set in motion for the transport.  Mike rented a brand new suburban for the trip, while we prepared the bird for travel.  The morning of the trip the osprey was fed well, given subcutaneous fluids, and nestled in his deluxe carrier.  Mike took along some capelin in case of hunger, set his GPS and headed south.

While at South Florida Wildlife Center, the osprey recently underwent an imping procedure. SFWC’s Dr. Renata Schneider performed the imping, in which the osprey’s damaged feathers were repaired by carefully matching and attaching feathers which came from another bird of the same species. This gave the recovering osprey the feather structure he needed to fly well as his new feathers grow in. The surgery was a success.

On February 4th the osprey was set free.

by Katy Ward

WELLFLEET – A pair of orphaned North American river otters were released on Friday at the Herring River tidal gate on Chequessett Neck Road after being cared for and raised by volunteers at the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable. “The release was so joyful,” Cape Wildlife Center Director Lynn Miller said on Tuesday. “Watching them recover from orphanage and grow healthy and strong is very rewarding. We were pretty confident they were going to be OK. It was time for them to head out on their own.”

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This Sweet Girl is a Fighter

by Caryn Ritchie

This sweet girl arrived as an orphan baby opossum. She was given to a home wildlife rehabilitator who specializes in animal husbandry of opossums. It was discovered that this baby had a severe eye injury and no sight in that eye. Other than that injury, she was in good health.

The decision was made for her to undergo surgery to remove her eye. I was there for her surgery, and it was very successful. She spent some postoperative time at the clinic to recover before returning to complete her rehabilitation.

Unfortunately she developed an infection and numerous abscesses. The outlook was looking grim, but she had other ideas.

She fought the infection, healed beautifully and returned to her rehabilitation. There she was taught how to be a wild opossum and was prepared for release as a wild animal.

Don’t you love a happy ending?