Friday, October 19, 2012


 NFO links to a contest being held in New Mexico, as an incentive for, I assume, population control on local coyotes, with the quaint suggestion that I could possibly win. I'm rusty enough that I doubt I'd make an impact and I can't call a coyote to save my ass anyway, but it's a nice thought.

Reading the comments, though, got me a little twitchy.

Some of the things mentioned were the concept of livestock as "slaves" to humanity, anyone who hunts being a "serial killer" and, one of my personal favorites in the hypocrisy challenge: got coyote problems? Don't kill them. Get dogs.

Let's talk about that last one first. I think protective herd dogs are awesome, I know people who use them, and they work like a charm for guarding your livestock. And your neighbor's. And the wheat field three miles down the road. And that patch of woods that everyone leaves alone cause it's nice to have a place for the wild things to be wild. See, most guard breeds don't just hang out in the middle of the herd waiting for trouble to come to them. The ones I'm most familiar with in this context is the Great Pyrenees, and I know for a fact that they patrol a beat, and depending on the dog and how intense their guard instinct is, that beat can be anywhere from one square mile to god only knows how far they go in a night.

And, folks, for anyone who might be confused about this point, guard dogs don't always just scare off coyotes by pooing in their claimed territory and just being there. Sometimes, the coyotes look at the guard dog or dogs, and think "We can take them" and try anyway. Know what happens then? Either the coyotes kill the dog, or the dog kills the coyotes. And, let me be clear here, getting killed in a dogfight is not pretty. Most of the time, in a dog fight, there's a lot of scuffling and biting and ripping until one party loses enough blood that they just can't be quick enough to stop the other. With a few exceptions in breeds specifically bred to bite and hold on, the strategy of a dog in a fight is to cause damage and get the hell out. So, yeah, coyote in a guard dog's territory pretty much equals someone is going to get torn up. Also, I've met Pyrenees that would track coyote packs. If they got close enough to the Pyrenees's territory that he could smell them, he would go find them, and kick the shit out of them.

Let's presume for the sake of argument that a coyote and a Pyrenees scuffle, but the coyote realizes the error of his ways and gets the hell out of dodge, and the Pyrenees doesn't track him down to finish the job.  Now you've got a coyote that undoubtedly has open wounds, at the very least puncture wounds. You know what kind of wound is most likely to infect and abscess, even in domestic animals that get direct care? That's right, puncture wounds.

So your precious coyote that you're trying to protect from the cruel and inhumane death of a bullet (which, yes, you can get a bad shot, but a good hunter finishes the job as soon as they can, and most who try for coyotes can get a shot that will kill within a couple of minutes at most) is now dealing with massive infection, will be feverish, achy, and miserable for days, or weeks, or months. Just the right level of sick, which happens fairly frequently, thanks to the amount of effort the body puts into fighting infection, and your noble coyote dies, not of infection, but of starvation, as it's body eats itself up trying to fight the infection, and the coyote is too sick to go find food.

I can hear the din now, "but the pack will take care of it!" No, they won't. Social animals are amazing, but in the animal kingdom shit gets real in a hurry. If a pack of coyotes assesses that a member is more of a drain than a benefit, best case, they'll leave it behind. Worst case, they'll kill the draining member themselves, and depending on exactly how much food is available at that particular time, they might just eat them.

To a certain extent a pack might bring food to a sick member. It's more likely when the pack has pups, and they're feeding the pups anyway. But there comes a point when the rest of the pack assesses Uncle Sicky and figures out that he's just more work than he's worth.

Donkeys and llamas were mentioned too. Do you have any idea what a coyote that has pissed off a donkey looks like afterwards? A red, gooey smear. Pretty much the same with llamas. So again, you're trading death from a bullet for a more labor intensive and excruciating death, this time being bludgeoned to death with blunt objects. Well done.

So, now let's look at the serial killer thing. I've killed animals. I get a sense of achievement from hunting, be it prairie dogs or dinner. If what I kill isn't a snake too close to my livestock that refuses to be shooed off, a coyote behaving the same way, or a prairie dog, chances are good that I'm planning on eating it. I don't like buying meat, first off because store-bought meat sucks, and secondly because it's farking expensive.

Anyway, yes, it feels good to me to be skilled at what I'm doing, but you know where most of the sense of achievement comes from? A good, clean kill. And if anyone wants to whine about the poor prairie dog, here's something to balance the scales: the raptors know when you're shooting p-dogs. They hang out and wait for one to drop outside the hole, then come have lunch. So it's the cycle of life, just with a little help.

I don't think I'm a serial killer, for all I enjoy hunting on a certain level. Everything I kill is either for food, or refuses to cooperate with my preferred method of live and let live. Hell, I even give poisonous snakes basking at the base of a fencepost in a corral where my horses will be tempted to stick their noses under the fence to get that juicy weed a chance to move on. Generally, I'll have a long stick in one hand and a gun in the other. I'll hit the ground and make lots of noise as I walk up, and if they don't move, I'll poke em a bit with the stick, with the ultimate goal being to make it uncomfortable enough for them right there that they decide to leave and enjoy being a snake elsewhere. If they do, no harm no foul. If they don't, they've made a bad choice and end up feeding whatever scavenger notices them first.

But if you think I'm a serial killer, oh well. I don't spend any time trying to convince vegetarians to eat meat, I consider that a personal choice. They don't give me the same respect, but then, they also don't give much respect to the animals they claim to want to protect, either. Frankly, they don't have a clue what would happen if humans stopped having a reason to care for domestic animals. Oh, and that cute domestic pig you think you want to save? Let it go feral and you get a huge jump in aggression, to the point that they will attack people who stumble across them in nature. I don't say this as a call to kill all wild pigs, or even in support of raising domestic pigs. I like bacon, whether it's been pampered and fed or not. But, there are consequences to every action, and if you want to advocate for something, you need to be aware of the consequences.

Do some honest research on the horse slaughter ban, and what happened to unwanted horses during that time, whether they were lamed or bought because horses were cheaper than a purebred dog before the new owner discovered that buying the horse is the easy part, feeding and caring for them is the hard part. Anyone who has read any part of my blog knows that I love my horses, probably beyond sense, and I was against the slaughter ban. That, my friends, should be a clue to how horrible the consequences were.

For the last point that was brought up by commenters on the article about the contest, I'll point again to the rest of my blog. Particularly the posts concerning my favorite part of having horses being when they come up to me to get attention in the pasture, just to be together. Also, the posts about fighting all night to save a calf that's mother has given up on it for whatever reason.

Clearly, I'm an awful animal hating person, because I ride horses and raise livestock, and think that a contest to win a couple of AR's is a good way to incentivise population control on a nuisance species that will literally breed until the food supply runs out. Coyotes have their place in the ecosystem, but they're opportunistic little buggers that will exploit every food source they can, including your garbage, your dog, or yourself, if they think they can pull it off. In certain places, they could literally eat every other scavenger and predator out of food if the population is allowed to explode.

So, go ahead, call me whatever you want, but I'm willing to bet I understand the consequences and effects on the ecosystem of my shooting a few rabbits for the pot, or failing to shoot a few coyotes for population control, far better than you understand the consequences and effects of any of your hair brained plans for fixing the world.

That's why we have brush piles on the ranch, leave ditches and fence rows weedy for cover, maintain scrubby areas as unused space. That's why we have rabbits to watch, quail in the back yard, doves in our trees.

And that's why I'm going to keep on living the way I do.