By law, exits must be provided, but they are often blocked
Whenever the pressure of our complex city life
thins my blood and numbs my brain,
I seek relief in the trail;
and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn,
my cares fall from me - I am happy
Yet in Florida there is a brutal practice of penning foxes and coyotes in enclosures from which they cannot escape, and then setting dogs upon them to maul and kill them in front of rapt spectators. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission decided last month to temporarily suspend the practice while they draft rules guiding the enclosures. Some who appeared at the meeting called these "hunts" a "way of life" and a "heritage", but it surely not the coyote's heritage.
From an editorial in the Tallahassee Democrat by the state director of the Humane Society of the United States:
"Florida residents continue to be shocked by the brutality of fox pens in their communities. Last year, neighbors to a pen witnessed dozens of coyotes crowded against a fence. The neighbors looked at the pen in confusion, until they saw dogs with numbers painted on their sides ripping into a cornered coyote. The neighbors spent the next year taking photographs of wounded coyotes and listening to animals dying inside the pen.
"As far back as 1990, a neighbor to one pen contacted The Humane Society of the United States and said, 'They turn the fox or coyote loose and then four of five dogs chase the animal until it drops from exhaustion … They either kill it or maim it up so bad it dies an agonizing death.' Another Florida resident wrote us stating that he was a hunter, and make no mistake, what went on next door to him in a 600-acre pen was a bloody spectacle as bad as any dogfight (Fox pens still spell animal cruelty that must end)."
The stocked and penned hunting and brutality of the kill is a part of the problem. Underlying this is is the mindset of many people Ranger knows who would kill a coyote or fox given the chance. The most common rejoinder given is, 'They're PREDATORS!" Well, we don't shoot attorneys, politicians or investment bankers, do we?
February 2010's Outdoor Life fronted it's cover with the ebullient, "Take 100 Coyotes This Season -- Calls, Stands, Tactics and Gear." They interview members of the "Century Club" who "routinely bag 100 coyotes a season," who recommend electronic callers and GPS systems, among other ploys, as "more people get interested in hunting coyotes, you have to get farther and father away ..." "Stay on stand" and "Find the water -- remote springs are killer spots." Reading about the scopes and weaponry and "pulverizing the target," and giant men decked out in full hunting regalia posed with these dead, scrappy beasts at their feet is really too much.
When the predators are gone, who will balance nature? Man is the greatest predator of all, via his mechanized weaponry. But he is not so large that he cannot be felled by a planet too far out of balance, and by the tiniest of biological threats.