Yesterday I posted on urban coyotes. Frequent commenter, blueeyes, made a lengthy comment. I started to answer in a post length comment and realized I’d probably exceed the Halsoscan limit, so I decided to post my reply.
Blueeyes wondered if I thought he was turning into an "eco-troll." I don’t feel his comment was trollish. We’ve exchanged comments about this before and I know he’s informed and passionate about it.
First, blueeyes pointed to advice in the article I linked from the Boston Globe. It mentioned that you could discourage coyotes with cayenne pepper. Blueeyes points out that using pepper spray is not a good idea for various reasons. One could spread powdered red cayenne instead of using a spray, but using either is not ideal. Still, it's typical of the advice many in authority give when they’re confronted with questions about living with wild animals--almost useless.
Blueeyes had three specific issues he asked me about. I’ll ask them in the order he gave, but I’ll paraphrase the questions:
Question A: Coyote attacks on human are not frequent, so what is the significance of increased human-coyote interaction? Coyotes aren't the only animals living with us. Increasingly we’re living with bears, alligators, deer, mountain lions, foxes, etc. even packs of wild dogs. Some are predators, some aren't. We live with these creatures and they have their own set of rules. Too many people are separated from the natural world and only know about nature from Disney movies.
Nature is a great thing. I love being outdoors and I hunt and fish. I’ve also read up on animal behavior and have a modest understanding of animal behavior (you have to if you want a successful hunt). The fact that animals are living among us and that too many people are ignorant of animal behavior is a recipe for disaster. It’s not just my opinion. Here’s an article that discusses changes in coyote behavior as they become acclimated to humans. It also lists coyote attacks in California (.pdf link).
People no longer react to a predator the way our ancestors did when a predator would face a gun, a loud bang, and pain or oblivion. Now, they face people who do nothing to scare it let alone hurt it. In time, that animal is going to associate people with food especially if humand feed it or leave food out for them (see page 5 of the report I linked above). Since children are much more defenseless than adults, when a coyote (or bear, mountain lion) starts to think of humans as food, they’ll go after children first.
Question B: A woman in the Boston Globe article came upon a coyote while driving and honked her horn at the animal, why wouldn’t she use her car as a better weapon than a gun? It’s mindset. People here in New England have become too civilized. She could have used her car, but she may have faced prosecution if someone turned her in for deliberately running over a coyote. Granted, using a gun would have been worse for her.
Too many people have forgotten what our ancestors understood. They knew that killing animals (and people) in self-defense was no crime. Our ancestors went too far when they tried to wipe out mountain lions and wolves. I like having predators in the eco-system; you need them. But, predators have to be reminded that they shall not eat of the hairless ape. Human predators have to be reminded that not all of us are toothless and there’re more of us than them.
Question C: Why is this gun news when there’s so much blog-fodder out there? I blog about what interests me. The fact that predators are making a comeback and that people don’t know how to relate to wild animals anymore interests me. Also, blueeyes quoted a story about idiots firing a stolen gun in Massachusetts woods, but mAssBackwards already covered it. Why repeat something that another blogger covered better than I might have?
Finally, many New Englanders get to me. I’m from the West and lived in Texas before I moved here. I grew up at a time when a truck gun was normal. People in Massachusetts would get an attack of the vapors if they even thought of someone having a gun in a truck or car. In so-called civilized parts of America we’ve gotten away from self-reliance and self-responsibility. Instead, we expect the authorities to do something even when our laws (for instance, coyotes are protected in Massachusetts) ties their hands.
I would oppose suburbanites or cops wiping out coyotes. I do expect that people should be able to protect themselves, other humans, and even their pets with a gun if the danger justifies that action. However, Massachusetts has made it difficult to own a gun and even pepper spray. This is a foolish policy and we’re seeing its results.
Massachusetts is facing backyard predators that don’t respond to our laws and could attack a child or an adult as they become more acclimated to humans. This situation is the ultimate irony for a “civilized” and disarmed population. Even better, it’s a metaphor for two-legged predators that know our laws, but refuse to comply with them. It doesn’t get better than that.