Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Coyotes, Bobcats, Owls, Snakes
Luke, the new cat in the neighborhood, was out looking for lizards last week when he was attacked by three coyotes.
The coyotes were not quiet, and their yipping alerted a human who rushed to Luke's rescue.
Luke survived, in spite of his punctured lung and lacerated hind leg.
The attack stirred up a community frenzy about dangerous animals. Some wanted to build a perimeter fence and electrify it. Others wanted to form a posse to chase down the rogue pack of coyotes. Others just decided to keep all pets inside, locked up, safe from an indifferent, wild, predatory desert.
They did not, however want to get a dog to roam the "ranch" as a deterrent to trespassing coyotes.
Whenever a pet suffers an attack, we have the same conversation about what to do about them dangerous critters.
While I sympathize with the pet owners (I love my cats, dogs, chickens, tree frog, gerbils, and other animal friends and have lost several and still grieve), I differ from my neighbors in how to respond to wild animals. I accept the consequences of how we relate to open desert, at times, they do not.
It's a territory thing. Animals will test the boundaries of a territory whenever one opens up. Our little co-op ranch of seven acres is an open territory in that there are no dogs or other animals to claim it.
The people who live here don't want to shoot trespassers like coyotes, javelina, bobcats, or hawks, so we don't really count as defending a territory.
What I find interesting is the contradictory desires to both have a territory and to be unwilling to do what territorial creatures do -- aggressively defend the space.
We're all pretty nice, liberal, environmental, and self-absorbed. We want nature -- close, beautiful, balanced -- but in a sanitized form. We like desert fauna, in theory, but not too close or dangerous.
As Luke heals, the conversation will die down again, leaving us in our unresolved zone of contradictions. We won't have a fence, a dog, and the posse will hang up its spurs. Coyotes will watch from the edges of the settled spaces, waiting, watching, expanding the territory of our ambivalence.
It's a thorny place to live, but, to me, worth the cost.