Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shoot it. Shoot It.

I wanted to shoot it but he wanted to Shoot It!

This is another Nature Update, of sorts. For those who've been following on Facebook, you already know that we've had confirmed coyote sightings in our yard close to the forest line. (See recent posted photo.)
My first reaction to the sighting was amazement and wonder. I know these creatures always live here but it is relatively rare to see one because they are very stealthy and primarily nocturnal. So, of course, I shot it. Then I posted the photo for everyone to see.

The fellow next door, who does not usually pass more than a pleasant "howdy" with me, walked over to share his story regarding the coyote. Judging by that conversation, my liberal, hippie, nature-lover response is the less common of multiple options. What immediately occurs to my neighbors is to shoot them. Shoot them dead, that is. Relax animal lovers. To the best of my knowledge, no animals were hurt in the making of this story. Though, I can not guarantee how long that will hold true.

In any case, this large powerfully built young fellow, who I know to be a long-time hunter, had been startled by the coyote while walking in his yard. Clearly he was down wind of the animal and moving quietly in the grass and had gone briefly unnoticed by the coyote. This highly unlikely scenario had put the two in relatively close proximity. Rather than enjoying the wonder of the moment and realizing that he was sharing space with an amazing member of the animal kingdom who meant him no harm, he became fixated on destroying the creature. He'd come by to "warn" me that there were "coyotes in the woods". He advised me that I should be concerned for the safety of my dog. It was all I could do to refrain from laughing out loud at that suggestion. Perhaps if I owned a shih tzu, this would be a concern. The only rational statement he made was that it was unusual to see a coyote during daylight. I will concede that if you see a normally nocturnal animal in daylight and it acts strangely or seems unafraid of humans, there is a possibility it could be rabid (though this is quite rare with coyotes here). In this case, the coyote immediately ran to the shelter of the forest upon noticing the man.

What strikes me about the whole thing is that it all comes down to this fear response that seems to persist in some. And, look, I get it. When frightened I do not act as my best self. However, the customary flow (for me and many folks) is: the further I get in space and time from the negative stimulus, the more rational thought begins to supplant fight-or-flight. Though, clearly, my emotional flow chart is not a model that works for everyone.

All that said, jesushbloodychrist! Why is it that so many Pennsylvanians purchase homes in or adjacent to the forest and then act as though they are under siege by every creature who resides there? And, oh by the way, does anyone else suspect a correlation between that sort of relationship to nature and a more generalized militancy?

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