Sunday, May 17, 2015

Seniors 3, Coyotes 1

I’m big on animal rights; it’s the subject and background of my one-and-only novel. But a while back we had a situation here where I live that posed the question much more ambiguously.

Coyotes had decided they liked it here, too. Not senior or retired coyotes, but physically fit individuals, capable of taking small dogs and large cats. In response, the city wanted to start trapping and killing them. There was a raucous town hall meeting at which animal righters squared off verbally against anti-coyote partisans. I wasn’t at the meeting, but the result was a clear win for the trapping/killing policy.

In some ways it recalls the earlier eradication campaigns aimed at the rabbits in our neighborhood.  Probably the same people decided that one, and soon the rabbits were gone (for a while, anyway; they’re back now). The reasoning had to be different, of course, since rabbits are prey, not predators, so you heard about them eating the flowers and dropping pellets on the walkways. These were judged to be capital offenses, deserving of  CIA-style sanction with extreme prejudice. Usually some un-named organization, not unlike the CIA in its own way, is contacted in these cases to quietly dispose of the offenders, under cover of darkness.

I’ve always objected to the rabbit genocide, but I’m still of two minds about the coyotes. In matters like this you have to pick your fights judiciously. Part of the anti-coyote group was undoubtedly pet owners who might in other instances be counted among the animal rights cohort but who, in this case, could lose their pets and in some cases already had. One confirmed kill involved a coyote slipping through a momentarily open apartment door and snatching a cat from inside. All the arguments about our crowding them out of their habitat don’t stand up well against that.   
Some time after the meeting our little local newspaper reported that three coyotes had been trapped and killed. That’s not many, but predation seemed to drop noticeably. I think it’s because coyotes are smart. I don’t know that they read the newspaper, but I do think they can see handwriting on the wall, and they passed the word that the pickin's ain’t easy any more in this part of the forest.

They can outrun and probably even outsmart a lot of us seniors individually, but if we ever come together, you don’t want to mess with us.