Thursday, July 14, 2005

Urban Coyote Blogging, Again

It seems like I am doomed to Coyote blog (here) (here) and (here). And, it looks like I’m going to have to do it again.

It’s not because I hate coyotes. In fact, I’m glad predators are returning to our forests and plains. You can’t have a balanced ecosystem with only prey animals and no predators. No, I have to do it again because the Boston Globe has yet another report on coyotes in cities and their article highlights the ignorance gun fearing states have when it comes to dealing with wild animals.

This time Saugus, Massachusetts is where people fear their coyote neighbors. The article opens with a woman and two young children. While driving home she came across a coyote chasing a neighbor’s dog when the coyote stopped in front of her car. Repeated horn blowing didn’t budge it until our furry woodland friend decided to run off.

So far, Saugus' Police Department has had seven coyote calls in the past three weeks. The article gives a little natural history on coyotes, a description of a coyote carrying off a wild turkey (while not as big as their supermarket cousins, a wild turkey is a good sized bird), a sighting of pups, and near the end there’s a report that a three-year Cape Cod boy suffered a coyote bite in 1998.

I throw in the last to discuss a few instances of head-in-the-sand thinking exhibited by officials as reported by the article’s author, Cristina Silva. Officials claim coyotes aren’t dangerous. State biologist Peter Mirick says it is uncommon for them to attack people. I grant you that one human coyote bite in the past seven years shows that coyotes don’t attack humans often, but it also proves that it can happen. Further, coyotes are pet killers as Mirick admits, ''They do, however, definitely eat some cats and dogs from time to time."

The biggest question I have about the article though is, “While coyotes have always lived in the area, development in recent years has made the coyotes more visible and less afraid of humans,” a statement made by Saugus police officer Harold Young. First, I doubt coyotes have always lived in the area. Second, many liberals, and those fooled by liberals, blame development for the increasing brazen behavior of coyotes and other wild animals.

It’s not development. Saugus is only a little north of Boston. It was founded in 1629. This area has been settled for a long time. It’s congested as well with 916.2 people per kilometer--about the same as Bangladesh and more than twice as dense as Puerto Rico. Most open space has been built up except for parks, cemeteries, and a handful of mostly organic farms. While there is new construction, most happens where something else once stood.

Coyotes have found a suburban niche. After all, we feed them with trash, roadkill, our pets, and perhaps one day our children. If Officer Young is right that they're becoming less afraid of humans, it’s not because of development, it’s because we give them nothing to fear.

The problem with coyotes, bears, and even alligators is not that they’re here. The problem is that too many citizens have demanded that state government disarm us and government responded. Few Massachusetts’ citizens have carry permits, few own a gun, you must have a permit to own pepper spray, and even more would be aghast at a "civilian" using a gun even to save a child's life. They may want the authorities to do something as a woman in the coyote article demands, but there is little sense of individual responsibility.

I’m not recommending hunting coyotes in suburbs, but I am saying that anyone with common sense will understand that self-defense is a human right. That a gun is a significant self-defense tool and that using it against a predator (four- or two-legged) is not evil. But, first you have to have a gun to defend yourself. Honking horns, swinging a broom, or other "improvised weapons" won't substitute for a gun.

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