Reasons 20-21 are devoted to two mysterious, vital, underappreciated, and brutally tormented animals who are native to North America and who play a prominent role in Native American folklore: Coyotes and Wolves
Reason #20 Coyotes
The Coyote Pup and A Bold Woman
Last Saturday a coyote pup darted in front of our vehicle. My husband hit the brakes and swerved to miss the lanky little guy, a tail so bushy it nearly consumed one third of his small frame. He seemed lost, confused, and in distress briefly idling in the middle of the road before dashing back to the other side. Fraught with concern we turned around to find him. This was no place for a coyote pup, no mama in sight, a busy road, and nowhere to hide.
He vanished. Maybe he didn’t really exist? He disappeared that quickly. I walked up and down the street whistling and calling and wondering what I would do if he came to me. Do coyote puppies come when humans call? Should I have carried some treats? Is there a wildlife rescue here in Southern Oregon? No idea whatsoever. Where we lived before in Santa Cruz there were local places to take abandoned, injured, and rescued wildlife. And considering we are magnets for injured animals finding their way into our lives, we frequented those services.
Back at home, I promptly Googled “coyote medicine cards” and discovered that coyotes are known as “the great one” and “the foolish one” teaching how both wisdom and folly can coexist and are even vital to a happy existence. And if a coyote makes himself present in a person’s life, then she (the person) must take the time to really look at or look into something she’s been avoiding.
Moments later, I learned that a friend of mine died. I met Cherrie while living in Mexico. We bonded in animal rescue. Twenty years my senior and with light-years more sass (and I’m not terribly lacking in the sass department), Cherrie was one-of-a-kind, pardon the cliché. A perfect coiffure, manicured toes, and perpetual lipstick never hindered her ability to get knee-deep in dog crap or climb into a thicket to save an animal. She had a mouth like a drunken sailor that would otherwise seem antithetical to such glamor, but somehow she pulled it off brilliantly. We were bound to be friends.
On Cherrie’s Facebook page as friends were memorializing and sharing their grief over her death, someone shared a photo of her reading a book to a child with the heading: “Rudolf was a narcissistic alcoholic kind of reindeer and other Christmas stories Cherrie style.” Cherrie was bold, fiercely protective of dogs, fiery, funny, disorganized, and beautiful. She, in my opinion, was an elegant combination of folly and wisdom strumming those two characteristics into a beautiful orchestra of harmonic incongruence. Her absence creates a hole here on earth. And if heaven is a real place, St. Peter had no chance of officially signing her in at the pearly gates; because surely Cherrie’s arrival was met with an eager pack of dogs who barreled him over and bounded to her with sloppy smooches and wagging tails.
My coyote encounter was no accident, this I believe. Now my task is to explore and embrace my folly-wisdom duality and to look into and conquer those things in my life I’ve been avoiding.
Is there anything you’ve been avoiding in your life?
Perhaps there’s meaning in the coyote’s visit for you as well.
Facts about Coyotes
~ The scientific name is Canis latrans meaning “barking dog.”
~ Coyotes are intelligent and adaptable.
~ Resident Coyotes live in packs lead by an alpha male and female who maintain a monogamous partnership.
~Coyotes eat small mammals, birds, small livestock, fruits and berries.
~Humans have been working to exterminate coyotes for over 100 years.
~National Geographic claims 500,000 coyotes are killed annually in the United States.
~U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services is responsible for killing more than 80,000 coyotes annually.
~Taxpayer funded coyote and other wildlife slaughters cost Americans up to 100 million dollars annually ($100,000,000)
~ Coyotes are killed because they are considered a threat to agriculture (livestock). They may eat a newborn or young calf, but it is unlikely they will harm large cattle.
~Taxpayer funded coyote killings are carried out a number of ways: shootings by helicopters (a costly endeavor), shootings on the ground, traps, poisons (that also kill domesticated animals), and some are beaten to death.
~Killing coyotes does not control their population, because they have an evolved reproductive rate that is regulated by the available food. When coyotes are killed off, the small mammal population increases, which in turn, results in larger coyote litters. When the food source decreases, females have smaller litters.
~Coyotes are highly social and emotional beings, much like domesticated dogs. When someone in the pack dies, the remaining pack members grieve.
~We hear the coyotes’ distinctive and haunting howl at night. During daylight when there is a police or fire siren in town, I can hear in the background coyote yipping. Even during the day when this animal is most skillfully elusive, she must join in on the singing.
Wildlife Services, a useless excuse of a federal agency, is essentially a pack of killers for hire. And while their intended prey may be coyotes or wolves, they have killed millions of birds including bald eagles, domesticated dogs (think Fido, your pet who accidentally is caught in a trap), countless innocent small mammals, and endangered species, and all suspiciously below the radar. They’ve done all of this to protect livestock despite scientific evidence they are altering ecosystems. You’ll get an eye-full from this Sacramento Bee article, The Killing Agency, and learn in great detail about the atrocities committed by the USDA Wildlife Services from this Predator Defense article.
Why are we spending millions of taxpayer’s dollars to kills millions of wildlife animals each year? It’s a rhetorical question, really, because we do it to protect ranching interests. We kill millions of wildlife animals each year so that those animals don’t kill the farm animals that we kill for food. The taxpayer-funded Wildlife Services main objective is to kill wildlife to protect ranchers interests.
In 2013, Wildlife Services killed 4 million animals. Given the free flow of funding ($100,000,000 annually) and the lack of transparency, why aren’t all US citizens – Republicans and Democrats alike – pounding their fists and demanding that Wildlife Services be dismantled? This agency refuses to share what kind of poisons they use to kill wildlife. These same poisons are causing injury and illness to dogs, cats, and humans. A blatant disregard for wildlife is shoved in our faces by agents like Jamie Olson, an employee of Wyoming Wildlife Services who allowed his dogs to torment and maul to death animals like coyotes, bobcats, and raccoons who were helplessly caught in traps. Jamie Olson was brazen enough to share photos of these abuses on Facebook.
While I think it’s time to dismantle the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, we can for now take action to make some reforms. Tell Secretary Vilsack to reform USDA Wildlife Services by signing this petition.
Peter deFazio an Oregon 4th district congressman is an admirable activist helping to protect the predators like wolves, bears, and coyotes who are utterly defenseless when looking down the barrel of a sniper in a helicopter. Write to your representatives to share you do not support the use of your tax dollars for killing wildlife. You want the USDA Wildlife Services to be dismantled and for those dollars to be used, instead, for protecting the wildlife that is currently being preyed upon. Find your representatives and send them a message here.
#21 Gray Wolves
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
~From First People
Washington state’s renowned wolf pack, Profanity Peak, is being exterminated by USDA Wildlife Services snipers. Six members of that pack have been executed as of the writing of this post. In August the pack’s matriarch was killed, which sends a rift through the pack rendering it more vulnerable. This is all to protect the interests of cattle ranchers. Millions of tax dollars spent to protect cattle that are grazing on public land subsidized by taxpayers in wolf territory.
The pack was placed on a “kill list” when the wolves came into “conflict” with livestock on public land. The rancher reporting the wolf-cattle conflict had recently moved his cattle grazing area near the wolf den. This rancher (autocorrect attempts to replace rancher with cancer, hmmm) placed his cattle near wolves with the knowledge there would be attacks thus creating a valid excuse to kill the wolf pack. Practically hunted to extinction, wolves remain the brunt of our deadly force in exchange for protecting cattle. Killing this entire pack represents 12% of Washington state’s wolf population.
According to Endangered Species Coalition, “Under Washington’s wolf plan, livestock owners who have had wolf-caused losses are eligible for taxpayer-funded compensation, and are eligible for double compensation when the livestock were grazing on areas of 100 or more acres.”
Ranchers are compensated by US tax dollars when their livestock have been killed by wolves. THEN US tax payers front the money to kill the wolves. And for ranchers who place their livestock on public grazing land of 100 acres or more and those livestock animals are killed by the wolves, the rancher gets double compensation.
This video courtesy of the Center for Biological Diversity.
Throwing Biodiversity to the Wolves
A Washington Post article highlights how by our interfering with coyotes and wolves, we are creating more of a problem than a solution:
~ The elimination of red wolves facilitated the proliferation of coyotes. Red wolves would otherwise not tolerate coyotes in their range. Coyotes push away the foxes who would normally prey on deer mice, which are notorious for spreading ticks.
~ The execution of wolves and other predators (bears, for example) allows deer populations to proliferate across the country, destroying trees that serve as habitat for other animals. And this gives hunters an excuse to kill deers that would otherwise be managed by biodiversity.
~According to Vice News: in a 2013 study, USDA Wildlife Services spent $57 million to kill wildlife including gray wolves (they have killed over 1500 since 1996), while the Department of Interior spent $43 million on efforts to protect the gray wolf.
In 2013 US taxpayers dished out $100 million to simultaneously kill and protect gray wolves.
Sign the Center for Biological Diversity‘s petition and tell Washington Governor Jay Inslee to prevent the slaughter of any more members of the Profanity Peak wolf pack by ordering non-lethal measures if further conflicts arise and insist that ranchers take responsibility to protect their livestock in a way that protects biodiversity.
OR stop eating cows and send a message to ranchers that they don’t own biodiversity, and despite their righteous brattitudes, (my word) have zero rights to kill off wildlife animals that belong to the earth and not to any human.
For a very detailed report by the Humane Society of the United States regarding the USDA Wildlife Services activities, click here.
This post is dedicated to Cherrie Olson. xo
“Isn’t man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife – birds, kangaroos, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice, foxes and dingoes – by the million in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billion and eats them. This in turn kills man by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative – and fatal- health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year, sends out cards praying for Peace on Earth.”
~ C. David Coats
“Wolves and women are relational by nature, inquiring, possessed of great endurance and strength. They are deeply intuitive, intensely concerned with their young, their mate and their pack. Yet both have been hounded, harassed and falsely imputed to be devouring and devious, overly aggressive, of less value than those who are their detractors.”
~Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“The caribou feeds the wolf, but it is the wolf who keeps the caribou strong.”
~Keewation (Inuit) proverb
“We have doomed the Wolf not for what it is, but for what we have deliberately and mistakenly perceived it to be.. the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless killer.. which is, in reality no more than a reflexed image of ourself.”
“Perhaps it was the eyes of the wolf, measured, calm, knowing.
Perhaps it was the intense sense of family.
After all, wolves mate for life, are
loyal partners, create hunting communities
and demonstrate affectionate patience in pup rearing.
Perhaps it was the rigid hierarchy of the packs.
Each wolf had a place in the whole and yet retained his individual personality.
Perhaps it was their great, romping, ridiculous sense of fun.
Perhaps it was some celestial link with the winter night skies
that prompted the wolf to lay his song on the icy air.
For the native people who lived with the wolves,
and the wolves once ranged from the Arctic to the sub-tropics,
there was much to learn from them.
Is it any wonder that the myths of many tribes characterize the wolves
not as killers but as teachers?”
A new friend has published a new cookbook: Master Plants Cookbook: The 33 Most Healing Superfoods for Optimum Health.
To see the other posts in this series click click click away
Post 1: International Homeless Animal Day & 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: #’s 1-3
Post 2: Sanctuary One & 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: #’s 4-11
Post 3: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Numbers 12-19
Post 4: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Coyotes and Wolves
Post 5: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Chickens and Turkeys
Post 6: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Smallish Animals and Reptiles 24-30
Post 7: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Marine Life & Birds
Post 8: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: African Animals
Post 9: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Rainforests, Air, Water, Soil, Climate Change, Peace & Hunger (50-54)