Local Wildlife Thrived as We Sheltered
Journeys into River Edge
: Recently, we have read with interest how the COVID stay at home has impacted our environment. For example, not only has air quality improved, but we have seen instances around the world in which wildlife species have reintroduced themselves to locations for the first time in many years as a result of the absence of human activity.
Locally, it has been an interesting Spring. There seem to be more squirrels and rabbits than usual (perhaps less road kill?). Deer are a common site especially in the early morning hours. Moreover, chipmunks are around in far greater numbers than most folks can ever remember. There is a fox that has taken up residence in town and can be seen roaming up and down Voorhis and Wayne Avenues past early morning walkers, runners and cyclists. A beaver or two has also been seen, as well as a number of groundhogs (A family of groundhogs in residence in a backyard on Bogert ?).
This modern day return of wildlife got us to thinking about whether this new wildlife is similar to or different to what was here before.
Granted, we did not look all that hard, but where we did look did not shed much light. One still is left to imagine.
In the histories of River Edge little is written. It does say that fishing and hunting was abundant. These histories as well as others about the colonial period generally in New Jersey speak to the importance of the fur trade first in Dutch times, then once England took over. For example, when Henry Hudson discovered the area for the Dutch East India Company upon sailing into the mouth of the Hudson Bay, he was actually in search of the fabled Northwest Passage to the Orient. The rivers Hudson explored did not lead to westward waters, but as a consolation he founded trade with the Native Americans for furs, and claimed the area for the Dutch Republic. In 1621, the States General of the Dutch Republic granted a monopoly on fur trade to the newly formed West India Company within the Dutch claim along the Hudson River.
Business was good:
“Beaver pelts were especially sought after for the fur trade. Marten, fox, otter and mink were also bartered. In 1624 (the year New Amsterdam was first settled), Dutch settlers shipped 1500 beaver and 500 otter skins to Europe. Thereafter, the fur trade grew enormously under the Dutch”.
That’s all we could find. We are only left to imagine.
So we turn to you.
What wildlife do you see in town these days ? And, can you add to our insight about what species might have called this neck of the woods home way back then (before cars, subdivisions, condos and strip malls) ?
We would be interested in your take.
In the meantime, be careful of the virus and of wildlife.