A Vegan View of Deer, Coyotes, and Bobcats

Deer-stalking season is back. Time to remember defending the free is the core of the vegan ethic.

A vegan humanity wouldn’t breed chickens, emus, cows, horses, goats, sheep, rabbits, llamas, or, for that matter, Chihuahuas. Nor would it pack ammunition and go chasing after hapless herbivores.

A vegan humanity wouldn’t compete against wolves, coyotes, and bobcats to keep the above-listed animals available for our use and amusement.

And if our hero, a pleasanter humanity, stops warring on wolves, coyotes, and untamed cats, then the claim that moose, elk, and deer have no natural predators would be history.

Now, some people stalk animals regardless of their numbers, because they think it’s fun, so they must have been led to regard an object that can kill as a toy—but people with this ugly view would not be brought up by our hero.

Canids Come Back

Long ago there were wolves here on the eastern side of the North American continent. Our anti-hero killed them off.

But you can’t keep a good bio-community down.

The Great Lakes wolves have mingled with eastern coyotes, producing coyote-wolf hybrids. Deer make up about a third of their food. These coyotes are apex AF.

So, why are there still so many deer?

 

Coyote on deck: Steve Jurvetson / Wikimedia Commons

The states’ hunting and trapping rules are dead-set against coyotes. About half of the coyote population winds up dead each year in Pennsylvania.

Bobcats are targets too—so there’s a community of capable carnivores under fire.

Federal managers ought to be heeding the growing body of scientific knowledge of the harm done when lands lose big predators. They ought to work with state agencies to reverse the current obsession with snaring, poisoning, hunting, and trapping them. We need to make this point heard.

Philadelphia’s Bloody Green Space

Know what shooting does? It creates a huge population of deer to keep shooting.

At the Wissahickon Valley Park, the northwest section of the city’s Fairmount Park, indigenous deer are baited and shot each winter.

Here’s the story, as recorded by Bridget Irons, archivist for Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer.

  • 1994: Friends of the Wissahickon called Natural Resource Consultants, Inc. for a deer population survey after people around the park observed—Oh, my!—deer.
  • 1996: An aerial survey counted 159 deer.
  • 1998: The Fairmount Park Commission, deciding on a limit of 30 deer, approved a one-time cull of the Fairmount Park deer.
  • 1999 – 2017: The official tally is 3,469 deer killed in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park.

It starts because the human “cultural carrying capacity” is so low (the number 30 as the limit on deer in the largest urban green space in the world). And then it becomes a vicious cycle of killing, deer repopulating at a frantic pace, and ever more killing.

Watch the same dynamic at the nearby Valley Forge National Historical Park, and throughout the townships surrounding Philadelphia. Residents complain. They don’t like their gardens nibbled. And eventually there’s a killing contract with the U.S. Agriculture Department—usually starting with a time limit, but carrying on indefinitely, with lot of money and personnel hours diverted to the projects. (For the Fairmount Park shootings, Philadelphia’s police aviation unit has been pulled in.)

How much should public pressure influence managers to impair what nature produces?

And how do we have a dialogue with the communities that manage to exert such violent pressure?

A Deer’s Reproductive System Is None of Our Business

Many advocacy groups prefer to promote deer birth control instead of shooting. They claim obstructing deer reproduction is a humane way of reducing their numbers.

It’s not. Scientists have published harrowing post mortems of deer subjected to chemical birth control.

And in the bigger picture, the attitude that humans should manage nature puts coyotes out of a job. Predators need us to stop repressing them, and to empower them to regroup and return to their natural roles.

And in the even bigger (and vegan) picture: Why on Earth would we want a pharmaceutical plan to control the destinies of untamed animals?

We might believe the public isn’t ready for coyotes.But then it’s our work to create understanding. Coyotes aren’t trying to create additional risks for us. Mainly they’re avoiding run-ins with us, moving at night where they live near us. Humans need to take a page from their book and be better minders of our own business.

 

I Dreamt of a Close Encounter With a Coyote-Wolf

I had been separated from my group.

I saw the animal with an untidy grey-buff coat, somewhat slender but imposing, wolf-sized, unquestionably moving in my direction.

The correct advice jumped through my thoughts: Don’t run. Stay with other people. If alone, wave your arms and look big. I glanced sideways to ascertain whether the other people I’d been with were within range. No.

I ran—a this-isn’t-really-running run. The coyote matched my pace, coming closer. There was no getting away. I thought I might well be chewed up momentarily. I imagined the wounds, the emergency room. With my whole being I would strive to turn the media to call for understanding and respect. All of this flashed through my mind in an instant.

Now, the coyote-wolf was at my hand. I averted my eyes, so as not to be a threat, and blanking out my own fear. My hand swept over the muzzle of the being in charge of my immediate fate.  And the being paused, having felt my hand, and looked at me closely, and then moved off. I felt a surge of emotion—of awe.

Who would have the temerity to try to tame such an animal, to make such beings belong to us?

“I just saw a coyote-wolf hybrid.”

The person I told, some official in the area, asked, “Did you chase the animal off?”

“No. I ran. And that was no good, so I stopped. We got close enough to touch. I didn’t plan to—there is no reason for alarm.”

The official answered:  So-and-so would have just loved to have seen that coyote-wolf. I left my story to be told and woke up, knowing. That is exactly how I’d behave. With that coyote-wolf, at least.


 

Image: Eastern coyote, from ForestWander.