October 19, 2018

Evolving Coyote Mythology & Urban Political Dog Whistles

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By James Beers

I recently thanked the St. Paul Pioneer Press and one of its writers for exposing the controversy surrounding growing complaints in St. Paul, Minnesota regarding the presence of and conflicts with urban coyotes.  Phone calls by the author of the article to the St. Paul Animal Control Supervisor; who was quoted as saying, “It speaks well for our city that wild animals choose to live here”; had gone unanswered.  The writer noted that, “Most of us don’t want coyotes, only to discover we have as our animal-control supervisor a woman with a Golden Book view of wildlife” and wherein “at night all the creatures gather around a fire and the raccoons provide for story time.”

I noted the similarities between this urban newspaperman and his coyote concerns in the face of a city government bureaucracy that disdains to recognize or address his interests and the drama taking place in rural America between rural residents concerned with wolves and grizzly bears in settled landscapes in the face of an arrogant “Deep State” in Washington, DC and state wildlife agencies that have become little more than subcontractors to federal bureaucrats and agents of the same environmental/animal rights agendas exposed in the St. Paul newspaper.

My “thank you” to the newspaper and the writer took the form of a Letter to the Editor that was recently published in the Sunday edition.  It was placed in between a letter from a St. Paul lady that thought she was, “fortunate to live with a National Park – and its attendant beauties, including wildlife – running through our midst”, and an instructive wildlife letter from a lady assistant professor of environmental education at a local University.

The latter letter from the assistant professor brought to my attention two things.  One was a silly and contradictory modernistic biological theory justifying coyotes as beneficial to urban landscapes reminiscent of the after-the-fact of introduction of wolves that, “wolves restore willows along streams” nonsense.  She opined that:

When there are coyotes in an urban area, there are fewer skunks, feral cats, and even foxes.  Not because the coyotes are tearing them apart, but because of something known as ‘competitive exclusion’ – when more than one species relies on the same food source in a given area, competition for that food source becomes a limiting factor, driving out competitors (i.e. causing the other species to look for food and shelter elsewhere).  The result is a stronger, more robust and diverse ecosystem – more plant species, bird and small mammal species.”

According to this “something known as ‘competitive exclusion’”; “driving out competitors (i.e. causing the other species to look for food and shelter elsewhere)” makes, “a stronger, more robust and diverse ecosystem – more plant species, bird and small mammal species.”  Is it me or do others wonder how making less of some predator species probably makes for more of the winning predator (in this case coyotes) and this then makes more and hungrier top predators to decimate the prey species ever more efficiently and not a“stronger, more robust and diverse ecosystem” whatever “stronger” and “more robust” connote?  The contradiction here is all the more regrettable when spewed by a professor at a University; even when dressed up with animal rights drivel about how coyotes do not tear apart “skunks, feral cats, and even foxes” but merely drive out competitors “(i.e. causing the other species to look for food and shelter elsewhere) one must assume here in some sort of “Grapes of Wrath” convoy into oblivion.

The second thing that caught my eye was her comment that:

St. Paul doesn’t have a coyote problem. The city’s approach to coyotes hardly represents the ‘Golden Book view of wildlife’ that Soucheray (i.e. the newspaperman) claims.  It uses science to inform policy and aims to educate the public so they can form educated opinions based on sound reasoning, evidence and data.”

Just as with so much of the “science” and “good intentions” surrounding wolves and grizzly bears in settled landscapes this is hilarious nonsense attempting to eliminate any opposition to whatever is imposed by bureaucrat/ideologues with government power based on animal rights and preferences.  You have no right to question the fact that the city Animal Control lady won’t return your calls and answer questions; she is rightly busy “educating the public”.  You have only uneducated opinions and we are tasked with getting you to ratify (our) “educated opinions based on sound reasoning, evidence and data.”  Just as with calling someone not supportive of what you are saying or doing a “racist”, or “misogynist”, or “Islamaphobe”, or “homophobe”, etc.; environmental/animal rights ideologues categorize troublesome citizens as “uninformed”, “uneducated”, “questioning ‘science’”, and incapable of basing opinions “on sound reasoning, evidence and data.”  Methinks the ladies should first inform the “public” rather than hiding from and disparaging a “public” that deigns to question their brilliance and chicanery.

Lastly, the other urban lady that imagines she lives in a “National Park” “and its attendant beauties” closed her letter with:

By all means be on the watch for coyotes.  Also dogs, cars, cyclists, tweeting while walking, ticks, needles, poison ivy, storm warnings, and Archie Bunker reruns.  Danger, as well as beauty, is everywhere.  You’ll find what you seek.”

Setting aside the sarcasm here, remember this is the urban area of Minnesota and there is perhaps no more liberal/progressive political concentration in America.  When you compare the newspaperman of the paper to “Archie Bunker reruns”, you have destroyed any credibility he might have with 75 to 80% of the readers.  In Minnesota, such an epithet is a classic “dog whistle” with a double meaning ending all discussion.

As I mulled over these three ladies (one hiding in her office, another preaching nouveau biology to justify the unjustifiable, and the third in her imaginary ecosystem all too glad to disparage anyone questioning her nature beliefs) I was reminded of the 3 witches in Macbeth reciting their famous ditty.

Doubledouble toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble’ are two of the most famous lines in English literature. These lines show how what the witches say can have double meanings and can be contradictory.  The three ladies in St. Paul exhibit all of the misleading perfidy and disdain for others that we see in Macbeth and nationally regarding wolves and grizzly bears in settled landscapes and as with Macbeth they will lead us into great harm as long as we let them intimidate us and mislead others.

For your edification here is the whole poem from Macbeth that the witches, speaking of animals by the way, spoke that gave them a place in infamy.

Song of the Witches: “Double, double toil and trouble”

(from Macbeth) by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and caldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the caldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,

Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and caldron bubble.

Cool it with a baboon’s blood,

Then the charm is firm and good.

For my money, the three St. Paul ladies should keep their “charms” to themselves.

Jim Beers

10 August 2018

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Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC.  He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands.  He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC.  He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority.  He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

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