html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Maybe that reporter is new.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Maybe that reporter is new.

Huh. I am very surprised at the lead on the SF Chronicle's site right now. I'll be even more surprised if it lasts, so here's a copy:
Park Coyotes Shot Dead
Feds shoot the two varmints that attacked a pair of leashed dogs in Golden Gate Park. Comment.
Chronicle Breaking News 11:49 AM

Really? They called coyotes "varmints"? In San Francisco? Are they begging for indignant letters from hippies? Here, every last one of them will sound like this:

...noble scavengers... ...tawny fur... ...we invaded their territory... ...precisely adapted for their niches... ...golden eyes... ...we need to learn to live with everyone... ...this is the mentality that lead to the War in Iraq...

I even agree with all that. On a back road one time I saw coyote carcasses nailed to a barn wall and I cried. I'm not indignant enough to fill in the rest of the words and send it, but I do think it was a poor choice of words. Well, reading the letters it gets will be lesson enough for that SF Chron reporter.

UPDATE: Changed an hour and a half later to "male and female".


Blogger susan said...

I'm fairly certain I've never seen or heard anyone aside from Yosemite Sam actually use the word "varmint" before.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



Notice Varmint is a variant of vermin.

Seems like a proper usage to me, they even mention coyotes in the definition of vermin.


2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only part of this story that gives me the slightest pause is that it took the feds a week to respond to reports from the public of an agressive pair of coyotes following pedestrians in Golden Gate Park. They're lucky that children weren't on the receiving end of that attack.

--Other Megan

4:34 PM  
Blogger susan said...

"Varmint is a variant of vermin."

Say that ten times fast...

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pfft, coyotes are little, they're not like wolves. I'm not sure 2 would pose much threat to people, even children. Maybe very small, unsupervised children.


5:05 PM  
Blogger markasaurus said...

Coyotes only weigh about 30 something pounds. The dog they attacked was probably more dangerous. The feds already shot them dead though so I guess nobody needs to worry now.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Lora said...

[On the first page of comments]

LeviF wrote:

Someone should have talked to those coyotes and reached a solution through diplomacy. Probably all they needed was a big hug.

Maybe he's one of your readers, Megan? (it reminded me of your "Spiderman 3" write-up)

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Nathan Zook said...

Two points:

1) It's
'lede' not 'lead'. :)

2) I understand the place of scavengers in the ecosystem, but coyotes are among the most dangerous of vermin. The can and have taken down human beings, and not just the under five set. Once they lose their fear of us, you have a tenacious pack-based hunter-killer. As the other Megan said, I'm glad we didn't lose anyone this time.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous bill said...

Gotta live Yosemite Sam. Or maybe Elmer Fudd..."Dwat that wascally wabbit.."

6:59 AM  
Anonymous D said...

zvemaybe the reporter was not originally from the city... I know a lot of people in the interior west who call them varmints... Justin... I would point you to a story about a 2 yr old attacked by a smaller fox:
That was in Denver proper, not even the suburbs... but then many animals around there have been habituated by a local resident that feeds them... I guess he doesn't realize that feeding a wild animal hurts both it and everyone around it... it is better if they are afraid of us, and run away.

When they stop running away you have to worry. Sadly that's usually when something must be done, and it sounds like they tried to trap the pair to move them to no avail. When I have seen them on the trail with my kids, I taught them how to make a lot of noise and throw small rocks without hitting them. You want to habituate wild creatures that WE are the more dangerous preditor. Not in any way a source of food... IMHO, naturally...

9:56 AM  
Anonymous NotATurtle said...

The article now ledes by noting the "lively debate" caused by the dicision to kill the coyotes.

The author asserts: Most wildlife experts sided with the decision to kill the coyotes. The "wildlife expert" cited in the article doesn't, however, say that, exactly.

My favorite part of the article:

[The coyotes] didn't show any aggression toward the trackers, but did display signs of wariness. "They seemed to be protecting something," Friedman said. That was the last strike against them. The coyotes were shot at about 10;30 p.m.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, coyotes are no threat to people:

It's ridiculous to keep saying, "Thank God no one was hurt this time."

Animal attacks on people in general are rare. Let alone attacks that result in any kind of serious injury to a person. Let alone attacks by such a small animal that result in injury to a person.

It's a little over the top to keep talking about like we narrowly avoided some tragedy here.


1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, yes attacks do occur, and yes, I know people are killed. Someone was killed by a black bear recently, even though black bears tend to not be dangerous at all.

But, there are 300,000,000 of us in this country. Shit's gonna happen.

It doesn't warrant over reaction to every little thing though.


1:16 PM  
Anonymous D said...

"It doesn't warrant over reaction to every little thing though."-Justin

That's just it though... what IS over-reaction? The 300mil and things happening is fact, So why is having to shoot coyotes, whose range has actually expanded with man invasion, NEWS? Because we still don't know how to think about it. They don't know what to do about the hard decisions that are ahead. When a puma starts attacking family pets, or attacks a family on a trail not a mile from houses...

What IS the correct decision? Or is there only a less bad one?

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care what the resolution is, shooting the coyotes, or trapping them and moving them, whatever.

Bue, "They're lucky that children weren't on the receiving end of that attack."

And, "I'm glad we didn't lose anyone this time."

Those kinds of comments worry me. How can people turn such a trivial thing like this into something so serious in their own heads? This wasn't a near tragedy.

Coyotes are small, they're not that dangerous to people.

I'd actually prefer they not be shot. I'd prefer they be trapped, and moved. But, this ridiculous fear of all things is what made the decision.


3:46 PM  
Anonymous margie said...

Baa, affirmative kindness.
Justin's a hippy!

10:00 PM  
Blogger W.B. Reeves said...

I saw a coyote for the first time in my life a few months back. It streaked out of an alley next to my house and across the street to dissappear down another alley. This was an intown neighborhood approximately a mile and a half from the center of downtown.

We've had reports of the critters moving into the suburbs and occaisionally picking off cats and small dogs for a number years now. No reports of attacks on adults or small children.

Seems that's still the purview of the two legged varmints.

BTW, varmint is a word I've heard all my life but then I'm a Georgian :)

2:40 PM  

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