I've had a bear in my backyard here in Asheville, N.C. WORLD editor Mindy Belz lives half a mile away: Yesterday a bear (probably the same one) was in her front yard, and she was unable to leave her house for a couple of hours. To my knowledge, Asheville has no bear casualties-yet.
The New York Times this morning has an article about coyotes in the parks and expensive backyards of San Francisco. The Times noted that dogs outnumber children in that remarkable city, and pondered this question: "Will the two animal worlds-the domesticated and the wild-be able to coexist?"
In 2007 authorities shot two coyotes that attacked dogs in Golden Gate Park: "Since then, the city has emphasized coexistence." The Times quoted Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote: "Usually, the knee-jerk response is, 'Problem: wildlife. Let's trap and kill.'"
That's one knee-jerk response. The other goes something like, "Ooh, cute." The Times ended its story by quoting one bemused resident's view of coyotes: "They're doing their own thing. It's pretty cool. This is a big city, and there are wild animals."
Hmm. A quick Google search of "coyotes, children" shows some press leads of recent years. Here's one: "The wary but tolerant relationship between humans and coyotes is changing in a New York City suburb, where two attacks on little girls have police officers shooting at the animals and parents keeping their kids inside on summer evenings at the urging of authorities."
And another, from a Los Angeles suburb: "The coyote … snapped its jaws on the girl's buttocks and her nanny had to pry the toddler from the wild animal. Less than a week later, a coyote in a mountain resort town some 35 miles away grabbed a girl by the head and tried to drag her from a front yard. …"
I read about coyote attacks in Indiana, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Colorado (see the photo above of a couple of coyotes outside a church in a Denver suburb in 2008). In 2009 coyotes in a Canadian national park killed 19-year-old singer-songwriter Taylor Mitchell. That was terrible, but wilderness is where the wild things live-do they belong in cities, though?
I happily saw no stories of coyotes killing children in backyards-just dogs, so far. Happily also, God has put in wild animals some fear of man, so coyote attacks on humans are still rare. But, with animal rights advocates on the march, this is an issue we will have to face. Are we bigoted and intolerant practitioners of "species-ism" if we respect wildlife but put first the safety of children?