Will Rogers once observed that California was like a bowl of granola- what ain’t fruits and nuts is flakes. Having lived there (relax- I’m no longer contagious), I can laugh at that while acknowledging the joke’s essential accuracy. Every so often, however, a news story comes along that makes me wish Will had been a little less truthful.
The story in question is about a coyote attacking a little girl in San Bernardino County. The story itself is not the the biggest problem. The big problem is the local talking heads on the idiot box (for those playing at home, I’m referring to TV “News” reporters) who commented on the story after reporting the basic facts. The following is an actual quote:
Male TV Personality: “Scary story. Wow. If I came outside and found a coyote had its teeth in my kids neck, who knows what I would do?”
Here’s a clue for you: If you were an actual human being and not a stuffed shirt peddling a journalistic, infotainment-like art product, you’d do exactly what the mother in the story did- you’d attack the animal with whatever was at hand until it let go of your kid. This is what any human on this planet would do … except- apparently- TV “personalities” in California.
How far removed from the basic human condition does someone have to be to utter that sub-moronic quote? It’s a running gag that normal human rules of behavior do not necessarily apply in California, but this is fucking ridiculous!
Humans do not- as a general rule- tolerate predation. Animals which once preyed on our species are now either extinct, nearly extinct, or have learned from painful experience to avoid humans at all costs. When animals decide humans are kinda tasty or easy prey (much the same thing), communities of humans get together, hunt down the offending critter, and kill it. Generally, a whole bunch of other critters of the same type get croaked during the hunt- just to be on the safe side. We- as a species- don’t like being considered “food”.
The mother’s atavistic response to the coyote trying to drag off her kid was (probably) almost instinctive. I’m certain she didn’t hesitate for a second before running after the animal. This is a basic human reaction to any danger to our young. It’s a survival trait shared by many animals.
But not TV newsreaders, apparently.
In most of the rest of the country (and most of the rest of the world, too), this episode would have been followed by armed humans keeping watch over the area both night and day, accompanied by vigorous attempts to track down and destroy the animal responsible (and any other potentially dangerous creatures in the area at the time). But this is California. A few traps were set, people were cautioned to keep their pets and kids indoors, and the police took pains to warn people against shooting any coyotes found near their homes.
A brief digression is in order. Coyotes are primarily scavengers. Humans- even human children- would not be primary prey for a healthy coyote. Humans- including children- are generally too large for any but the most desperate coyotes to consider a prey animal. The most likely reason that this particular coyote tried to carry off a child is that the animal was sick or injured (or both). Unable to compete for regular meals with other animals, it went for what seemed to be a totally helpless 10-kilo bag of meat when its protector was momentarily absent. This sort of attack is news precisely because it is so rare. It’s rare because only desperate animals (mostly) go against thousands of years of humans are dangerous conditioning.
An animal in those kind of dire straits is unlikely to change tactics. Posting armed humans around likely food sources- especially at night- has a very good chance of eliminating this animal. Traps are also likely to work on this animal (healthy coyotes are usually good at avoiding traps). But the police in San Bernardino County don’t seem to like the idea of people actively protecting their kids and pets.
It must be a SoCal thing. Up near the Oregon border or in the Sierras, folks would have no problem dealing with this kind of issue themselves.
Current status: Bewildered
Current music: Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult