photo by Jacques Tournel
COYOTE IS A GREAT TEACHER
Coyote is teaching our present generation all about carnivores…if we will open our hearts…and listen!
So I would like to share with you a presentation that I presented to our communities: “Why Do We Need Carnivores Anyway?” It was generously filmed by the Saco River Community Television Station in Maine at the Wells Reserve.
I invite you to watch it….and know that everything that I speak of in this presentation regarding a wide range of carnivores…..Coyote is trying to teach us here and now.
Here it is ~ https://vimeo.com/165627973
“Mates” by John Tangney
DOES WHAT WE LEARN THROUGH OUR RESEARCH TRANSLATE INTO OUR HUMAN BEHAVIOR?
Here is an example…and then you decide.
Research was conducted in Utah because ranchers were concerned that the small herd of Bison, that were placed on Public Land there, were eating up all the forage that the ranchers wanted for their cows. Now to condense it to the findings of the research, this is what they found.
It was not the Bison who were responsible for higher levels of foraging, but the VERY NUMEROUS jackrabbits present. When the ranchers found this out, they came up with the SOLUTION all by themselves. We need to stop killing the Coyotes…they will take care of hunting the jackrabbits.
But did anything change in the behavior toward Coyotes? The answer is NO. And why…..the so called big game hunters wanted to keep killing coyotes for fear they might take one of their deer.
So to what value was all the effort of this research? And who were the “winners” and who were the “losers.”
There were no winners….everyone was the loser…..the ranchers, their cows, the bison, the researchers, the deer, the Coyotes……and those who thought they owned the deer…for theirs is the greatest loss because they have disconnected themselves with the amazing connectedness of life. And by doing so, have lost something precious as a human.
Wild Mustangs pursued by helicopter
Life out of Balance!
It is so poignant…Wild Mustangs and Coyotes share in Common
Their lives are deeply disrupted, they suffer intense exploitation from a United States Government….that should be their Protector.
As I have written before, thousands and thousands of individual coyotes are slaughtered by our government, and thousands and thousands of Wild Mustangs are cruelly rounded up by government helicopters, on public land that was reserved as their home….and forced into government enclosures….there to await their fate.
Wild Mustangs in Government Enclosure
Why is this Happening? It has a long history in this country…and it all has to do with the European world view of their relationship with land and other life. So when Europeans settled in the West, becoming RICH was all that mattered. The land was there for them and only them…all other life was just in the way. So the slaughter of our carnivores continues today, and so the intense abuse of our Wild Mustangs.
So what is happening now…..well rounding up and keeping Wild Mustangs in enclosures is getting very expensive for the U.S. Government. Why do they do it. Remember, this is Public Land that belongs to all Americans. But instead it is being used by powerful ranchers who graze their non-native cows in lands that were set aside for the Mustangs.
So the Bureau of Land management of the United States has requested that the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council set up a 14 member research team to figure out what to do next. So this is the scenario: the wild Mustang population keeps growing, to a point that their habitat has become inadequate for them…..but also, the powerful ranchers want the Mustangs’ land for their cows.
What to do next? This whole scenario is an example of a landscape and the lives of our wildlife completely out of Balance.
As a biologist who focuses on carnivores and their value in the ecosystem, I see the great need to take the cows off the public land that has been set aside for the Wild Mustangs. But there is more….who is missing where the Mustangs live? Yes, there are no carnivores…..no wolves no cougars. Prey animals need their predators to stay healthy and have balanced populations. So if we were to ask a Wild Mustang what their choice would be…..the carnivores or their freedom taken from them…..you can bet that they would choose the carnivores!
So when I speak of Coyote here in Maine…..coyote plays this same most important role here….keeping our wildlife in balance and thus creating a healthy ecosystem for us all. We need to give them a safe place to live and do their work.
Our wondrous planet flawlessly follows its journey around our sun, in perfect harmony with its neighboring planets; our avian fellow beings of the sky embark on their amazing journeys of migration, in faultless accord with the seasons; your heart is beating in rhythm within you now, and has been, ever since you were conceived in your mother’s womb; and the system of predation, the ancient dance of predator and prey, life from death, continues to assist in the creation of the earth’s incredible diversity. The dance of life and death ~ it is intrinsic to the health of our planet.
Yet in our human society of today, the reality of wild predators killing prey is most uncomfortable to us. We have alienated ourselves from this reality entirely. And in our disconnection from the natural world, we cease to understand the immense value of our wild predators to the planet. And we ourselves want no part in any risk when venturing into nature, whether it be our backyard or a remote wild place. We have ceased to see ourselves as potential prey in Nature’s scheme, and do not wish to see any other living beings as potential prey either. So when it comes to the natural order, we have decided as a society to step out of it entirely, and in doing so observe any predator prey relationships in the natural world through our human eyes and our human experiences, and our human judgements.
So …. enter Coyote … Teacher. Teacher of what? How possible a teacher to us? Coyote is like no other carnivore on our American continent. Having survived here for over half a million years, coyote continues to adapt to the ever changing landscape and food sources. As coyote moves among us in the unending search for food and survival, we find ourselves being drawn back into the natural world, that of predator and prey, life and death.
Coyote is removing the veil that we have placed over the mirror, so as not to see ourselves as part of the natural order. Coyote is challenging us to look at our fears. Where do they come from and where do they lead us? Coyote is challenging us to reconsider our relationship with nature.
Will coyote teach us that we do not live on this planet alone? That we are all connected? Or shall we close our eyes and ears to this teacher, and continue to live in our isolation?