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Dayton’s first inhabitants deserve respect

Ruby McFarland
Dayton Historical Society

Some of the earliest inhabitants of Dayton Valley still have descendants around to remind us that we are slowly pushing them out of their habitat. I watch the little crown sparrows in my yard and know most of them were born in my bird houses or under the eaves of the house. They are descendants of crown sparrows living here before the first pioneers.

On a still, hot summer night, one is aware of another inhabitant when listening to the blood-curdling yip of the coyotes – probably chasing your cat. Coyotes adapt to most any situation and can be found in downtown Los Angeles. They were here first and, because it’s easy for them to find human food or family pets, rabbits in our area exist in great numbers.

It’s plain to see there is becoming an imbalance in nature, not only here, but everywhere humans decide it’s a good place to live. When wild animals become a nuisance, we get all upset and want to get rid of them, but remember, they were here first.

I hope we don’t lose some of the great wild animals we have around this end of Nevada. When I first moved here, I went on walks in the fields around my house. It wasn’t unusual for me to find tracks of all sorts of wild creatures. I was surprised to find mountain lion tracks and wondered at the time if I was in danger.

There was a time when you could find mountain lions, bobcats, antelope, deer, bear, ducks, geese, swans and an abundance of all kinds of birds in this valley. There are still a few of most animals surviving in Dayton, except antelope. I hope the little pockets of wildlife aren’t disturbed so we can still see them around forever.

There are many animals that adapt to humans, including deer, coyotes, quail and geese, sometimes we think of them as a pain in the neck to have around because they can become destructive to our pets and gardens. Please try to remember that they were here first and deserve to be honored as the first inhabitants of the valley.

— Ruby McFarland is a 17-year resident of Dayton, a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.