Let’s talk coyotes. These canines are, in essence, nature’s bottom-feeding, opportunistic garbage disposals on four legs. Their tenacity is admirable as they compete with the cockroach for post-apocalyptic dominance. In virtually every state I have hunted, coyotes are considered targets of opportunity and hunters are encouraged to exploit that opportunity when given the chance. Having grown up in Southern California, I have seen coyotes come down from the hills to dine on small pets like chihuahuas and cats. They would make forays into the suburbs not because their land was encroached upon, but because the neighborhood provided easy protein pickins’. Those who have not encountered this phenomenon are likely to classify the ubiquitous coyote with truly endangered animals like the Great Panda. That is until their Shih Tzu is snatched up by a ’yote for its evening meal. Until that happens, there’s always social media.
I had the following exchange on social media with a lady we shall refer to here as “Karen.” Our discussion about our local coyote population in Northern Virginia is an instructive follow-up to my last article on handling anti-hunters.
Karen: (written with lots of self-righteous indignation) WE TOOK THEIR HOMES AWAY!
Me: Ah no, they moved into ours. Like it or not, we are part of the food chain.
Karen: That’s pretty backwards, Max. Maybe YOU think we will never run out of natural resources and being at the top of the food chain means we don’t need responsibility, but if we go that route, the joke’s on you. (I had no idea what she meant by this.)
Me: Karen, you read a whole lot into what I said. I have lived around coyotes for most of my life. They would come down from the hills for the easy pickins’ provided by the suburbs. Ask anyone who has lived in LA about the coyotes. I know it’s a rather big deal for many, but for me not so much. These are some of the most durable and adaptable animals to ever walk the face of the earth. What’s backwards is the notion that they need our do-good protection. Don’t you worry, the coyotes will be fine.
Karen: Max, I respectfully disagree. In general, all animals need and deserve our protection. There are too many things against them including loss of habitat, lack of food supply, over hunting, abuse, climate change, and even politics. For example, we live in a state that makes it illegal to feed a hungry animal, or medicate a sick one, but it’s legal to kill it. We have to do better. If we can intervene to kill, we can intervene to protect. There are many people that care about animals, but too often they are a silent majority. (Huh?)
Me: Karen, exactly where is this so-called over-hunting taking place and what species specifically? You’re making an emotional appeal here with little fact. You shouldn’t feed a “hungry animal.” This will make the animal human dependent and ill equipped to survive on its own. This is never a good idea no matter how it “feels.”
"If that’s too much 'feelings' for you that’s ok. We can agree to disagree. (Until her teacup Yorkie makes its way through a coyote’s digestive system.)"
Karen: Max, I think I will leave it at that, since you’ve waded into the “emotional” women waters and are accusing me of being in my feelings. A quick google search on which animals have been hunted into extinction or are on the brink of extinction can provide that information. This is why hunting is regulated (Do you see a contradiction here?). If it wasn’t, we’d have irreversible damage. We trust people with guns to know when they’re not creating an imbalance in nature, but we can’t trust a person to medicate a fox with mange. IMO, the archaic system we function under could use a little updating, but what do I know? I’m just a woman lost in emotion (You said it, lady.)
… Let’s pause here a moment. Karen stated that animals are over-hunted. In the next breath she stated that hunting is regulated in order to prevent over-hunting. So which one is it? This is what happens when people are ill-informed and susceptible to their own emotional outbursts. Karen laid out her argument to protect animals from over-hunting and then made the assertion that regulated hunting protects the species numbers. She cancelled out herself in one sweep.
Me: Karen, no, you made it about women. I said you’re making an emotional argument and you are. Yes, hunting is regulated, therefore no animal in the U.S. (and especially not varmints like coyotes) is being over-hunted—your assertion. Instead of focusing on the topic at hand, you made a false accusation of sexism, which is absolutely absurd. I’m still waiting to hear what animals are being over-hunted in the U.S. …
Karen: Max, I said “animals in general” and “you’re accusing me.” I think you missed those parts. Some people take pleasure in killing animals and others take pleasure in protecting them. I will never see them as a target, vermin, or a nuisance. To me, they are precious, worthy of life, and certainly worth defending. If that’s too much “feelings” for you that’s ok. We can agree to disagree. (Until her teacup Yorkie makes its way through a coyote’s digestive system.)
Me: Karen, you still haven’t provided any evidence of over-hunting. The ecosystem isn’t so black and white. For example, hunting not only pays for a bulk of animal conservation, it also keeps populations in check because unchecked, they starve, they get hit by cars (deer in particular) and generally lead a miserable life. No emotions, just fact. Hunting maintains the balance.
Karen: Max, you’re so hung up on the hunting piece. I’m very familiar with the concept that hunting organizations (What organizations?) push, but hunting is not conservation. I don’t know why you need a list of animals that are over-hunted. Wolves are one example. Last year, wolves were taken off the protected list and around 300 wolves were killed in just 3 days! (There goes that emotion again.) You should look more into the “hunting is conservation” myth. It’s a huge part of the problem and part of the backward archaic system I was referring to in the first place.
Karen then posted a link to an article I will not post here as it would be an utter insult to readers’ intelligence; the article was written by a hunter, in case it’s of interest.
Me: Karen, I’m not “hung up” on hunting. YOU brought up over-hunting and it’s a topic I’m very well-versed in. (Never heard of the guy who wrote that piece, by the way.) Yes, there was a quota for the wolf hunt, like virtually every hunt. So they weren’t over-hunted. The three days shouldn’t shock you as some seasonal hunts are short in length. By the way, you should do some reading about the reintroduction of wolves and the problems that has caused—serious reading, not Disney-esque emotional drivel. It’s not a myth, but you seem to have already made up your mind.
... And with that, Karen virtually marched off in a huff, never to return to the scene of the emotional crime she committed with impunity. While I cannot in good faith encourage you to argue with the rabid anti-hunters online, sometimes—just sometimes—it’s an argument worth making. You may sway someone engaging in such a “discussion” if you keep a cool head and call them on their inconsistencies. We are locked in a cultural war I dare say we are losing, so on occasion, we need to drop the gloves and wade in.