Something is a little amiss in our usual balance of nature here in San Marcos, California. Our most common prey, rabbits, are proliferating unabated and our largest predator, coyotes, are notable for their absence.
For about six months, I have noticed more and more rabbits on our early morning walks. Poor Bingley has too. Every cell in Bingley's body tells him that these long eared, cotton-tailed critters need to be chased. But he has learned over the past three years that I am not going to let go of his leashes, and his strongest instinct will not be gratified.
However, the situation is becoming acute. We now have in residence in our very own garden, not one, but two rabbits: a youngster and an adult. The youngster is particularly brazen--or dumb. Just yesterday afternoon, it hopped right up the length of the flagstone walkway leading from the sidewalk to our front steps. Unhappily, Bingley was looking out the front window observing this travesty, and, I promise you, no amount of cajoling could transfer his concentration from the real rabbit outside to Harvey, the fake rabbit that is usually on the receiving end of his "attention."
I let Bingley out in the back just in time for him to chase the adult rabbit to the fence and watch in frustration as the white tail bounced up the hill out of reach and out of sight.
Then, when John came home from taking Magic and Bingley for their last walk of the evening, he reported that Bingley had flushed an entire family of rabbits from a neighbor's hedge. John was able to hold on to the dogs as five rabbits hopped across the street in front of them, but both dogs were agitated and Bingley was trembling with the need to chase.
I keep waiting for the coyotes to show up. So far, there isn't a sign of them--at least in our neighborhood. No tell-tale piles of fluffy rabbit fur in the undergrowth up the hill. No prickling on the back of the neck with the sense that a large creature is pacing us along the top of the slope that runs parallel with the sidewalk. And certainly no sightings--was that a large, scruffy dog, or...?
About three weeks ago during our morning walk, we heard the blood curdling cries of a coyote kill party. They came from a distance, but they were so loud and prolonged, both Bingley and Magic stopped to listen.
I thought that the coyotes had arrived. But since then--silence. And the rabbits keep on doing what rabbits are famous for doing: multiplying.
Of all the critters that populate our suburban development, rabbits are the cutest. In an ideal world, I wouldn't want any predator to harm them. But experience tells me that it is not a question of whether or not a predator will find them, but which predator will find them. There are two: coyotes and snakes.
Please come back, coyotes.