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Friday, 25 January 2013
A Coyote, A Bureaucrat and A Lie
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Maybe it’s just me, but I fail to appreciate the diverse and enriching experience of having a large, wild predatory animal scavenging around school grounds where middle school children, many of them handicapped, are taught or in the park where they play.

After seeing the coyote twice with my own eyes and conferring with neighbors who’d seen it for almost two weeks, I called Nashville's Metro Animal Control and the woman there told me coyotes are not within their purview and in addition, coyotes are impossible to trap – too wily, you see.

And when I called the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to report the danger, I was told to “just clap your hands and it will run away. They’re more afraid of you than you are of it. Coyotes are impossible to trap. They won't go in a trap.”

“But it’s injured,” I said. “It’s limping, but it’s very bold. It doesn’t seem afraid at all. It must be scavenging around the playground for bits of food the children drop.”

“Yes,” said the woman from TWRA, “it was probably shot by hunters. It will heal up in a few days and be gone. They only live about three years and then die of heartworms.”

“It’s been there for two weeks already. And what about pets? It definitely can’t chase rabbits. Won’t it kill cats or small dogs?”

“That is the pet owners’ responsibility. It is up to them to keep their cats indoors and their dogs on a leash. A dog running free is just an open invitation to a hungry coyote.”

“But what about the children at the school?”

“Coyotes are all over. This is the third call I’ve received this morning just like this.”

“But…”

“Just like this.” 

So there we are. Metro Animal Control said it’s not their problem and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said we’re on our own. Could I shoot it myself? I wondered. A quick google, informed me that one can shoot coyotes legally, just not within the city limits, where any discharge of a firearm is forbidden. Unfortunately, that’s where the unwanted and dangerous coyotes are.

Next, I contacted Animal Pros wildlife removal service. The man there told me that coyotes can surely be trapped and he didn’t know why both the state and the county had informed me otherwise. He told me, “By law, after trapping, the animal would have to be euthanized,” however. Better than its having mauled a child, I thought. Another quick google and it was confirmed to me that coyote trapping is standard industry procedure for private animal removal companies across the nation.

Then I called Miss Grey at J T Moore Middle School and she told me school officials had been told the same thing by Animal Control and TWRA and so they would have to consider using a private agency to trap it – now they know it can be done, that is. She seemed quite relieved.

The question is, why would both the county and the state inform those officials responsible for the welfare of our children that there is nothing to be done about a dangerous wild animal on school grounds? Or perhaps the question is not why they did it, but rather how did ease and confidence of lying to the public they are pledged to serve first begin? One would expect to be lied to by bureaucrats in say, Soviet Russia, but here in the United States this comes as a small shock. We used to be able to depend on the advice we received from the county agent – they were the experts on land use and wildlife – solid, neighborly types who gave practical advice of the kind predicated by, “You know what I’d do about this is...”

The woman at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency had obviously been directed to lie to the public. I thought about phoning back to find out who gave the directive, but does it really matter?

It is the little things which gradually chip away at the public trust in government.

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Posted on 01/25/2013 6:44 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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