October 28, 2017

Of coyotes and predators

I was at work on Thursday when I was approached by one of the customers. It’s a customer that seems to think he knows me from somewhere, and every time I see him, he’s very personable and has something he likes to share about either his life, what’s going on around him or what’s happening on his farm. It’s a little unnerving at times, but I’m fairly sure he thinks I’m someone else. Either that or he’s someone from the past that I’ve completely forgotten. I don’t think that’s the case, however.

On Thursday he came up to me, greeted me in the same way he always does and seemed really happy about something. When I asked him what it was, he proceeded to tell me about the coyote he had killed earlier in the day. And of course, after telling me about it, he -had- to show me a picture of the dead animal, complete with a blood stain on what looked like ground that had been recently cleared by a bulldozer or some other earth moving equipment. Now to me, it looked like someone had killed a dog, and left it to lie on the ground. Rather than tell him what I really thought about the picture, I stayed as nonchalant as I could, and made all the appropriate noises until he finished up his retinue and moved on.

I’m sure by this time you can tell that I’m not really all that much in favor of guns, hunting or eliminating predatorial animals from where we all live. Admittedly, I’m not. I grew up in a household where neither my father nor mother were interested in guns (my father served in the US Army during World War II, he didn’t talk about his experiences in the war and the one time I asked, he very politely rebuffed me, my mother took me aside later and told me to drop it) and the few times hunters came onto our property accidentally, my father had a chat with them and they left.

I’m certain the question could be asked, am I in favor of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution? Yes and no. I believe at the time it was enacted, there was a need for it since the US had recently been in a revolution and at that time there was a need for citizens to keep and bear arms. There were instances where a homeowner would need to be able to defend him or herself on the frontier, and/or from situations that no longer exist these days for the most part.

Unfortunately, it tends to be interpreted quite broadly, as citizens have a right to keep and bear arms OF ANY TYPE AND PURPOSE when it’s not necessarily required or needed. One doesn’t need to hunt with a semi-automatic weapon or protect their home with the same. As former Associate Justice John Paul Stevens wrote several years ago, if the Amendment’s language could be amended to say “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.” it would change the whole meaning of the Amendment and allow for some reining in of the hysteria that’s been going on for centuries. The NRA, of course, would never allow this.

Getting back to the topic at hand, I don’t believe our intrepid customer had the right idea when he killed the coyote. Sure, he saw a predator (his farm has cows in a barn, and the cows also graze in fields that border woods) and did what is allowed legally in defending his land. But the coyote didn’t have a choice in the matter. He only did what coyotes do. They hunt, to feed their pack and to survive. Nature designed the coyote to be a predator. That’s how the species survives. Though nature, of course, doesn’t take into account the legal ramifications of a higher predator being able to ‘even the odds’ or even jump over the odds when a gun is brought into the situation. The coyote was perceived by this gentleman as a threat. He eliminated the threat to his farm. He’s the hero, right?

All I saw was a dead coyote on the ground. I didn’t see how it was anything to celebrate.