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Coyote controversy, the sequel

The Schmitz Park coyote flap seems to be raging on in the WS Herald letters to the editor. One letter today points readers to the Friends of Schmitz Park website, which we hadn’t been aware of before.

You may recall, this latest round was touched off when coyotes made off with a dog briefly left alone in a nearby yard. People whom we believe had a connection to the dog are leading a campaign to get rid of the coyotes and claiming that they will inevitably come after small humans in the area, once they are out of small animals.

First, we agree with them — no one should be leaving food out for the coyotes; feeding wild animals does them no favors. Two, we agree with one of this week’s Herald letter-writers; cats (and other pets) belong indoors, and not only if you live near a park or greenbelt. We’ve had cats all our life, they’ve always been indoor cats, and they’ve lived long, healthy, happy lives. If you still choose to let your cats roam outside, they face worse threats than coyotes (or other wildlife).

Three, get the facts about coyote-human attacks. Rare. As this site points out, hundreds of people are killed by so-called “domestic” dogs every year. Anybody calling to ban them? Didn’t think so. So here on our tiny corner of an online soapbox, we’re standing to say, it’s not easy or convenient or perfectly safe to live in an area where we are blessed with some of the last swaths of urban sort-of-semi-wilderness in America. But we can deal with it without exterminating/evicting everything that doesn’t happen to be a cute, tiny, theoretically harmless “wild” creature. The animals don’t have a choice of where to go or what to do. We do. To quote the state site we have linked above (which you can also find from the Friends of Schmitz Park site, which elsewhere displays one of the anti-coyote letters):

Coyote behavior is based on instinctual programming for survival that is centuries old. As intelligent beings, individual coyotes can learn new ways to obtain the food, water, and shelter they need to survive. But coyote needs aren’t going to change.

However, human “needs” to set garbage on the curb, leave dog food outside, or put the cat out at night, can and should be re-examined. If humans want to peacefully coexist with these fascinating wild animals, it’s up to humans to change.

If you are interested in more advice on how to do that, here’s excellent information from the Humane Society of the United States.

Midweek miscellany

July 26, 2006 5:35 am
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 |   Pets | West Seattle schools | WS breaking news | WS miscellaneous

-Not only is West Seattle home to the mayor, we’re also now home to Miss Seafair! (Official coverage and photo on the Seafair home page, here.) So now if you’re joining us at the Torchlight Parade downtown on Saturday night, you can cheer crazily for her as well as for the fine folks on the Hi-Yu float.

-Haven’t heard a lot of noise on the school-closure issue lately, but the final School Board vote is set for tonight. There’s been a lot of excellent, thought-provoking discussion for the past few months — including issues beyond the closures/consolidations — on the “Saving Seattle Public Schools” blog, whose main contributor will be a Pathfinder parent next year.

-Lost/found dog/cat notices are sadly common on poles and windows — but last night while out and about, we spotted a “found rabbit” notice. It’s in the window of Pet Elements on the south end of Morgan Junction, and pretty vague, mentioning only that a “small domestic rabbit” was found “on California Avenue” and suggesting a call to the Seattle Animal Shelter if it might be yours.

Pet owners, take heed

As we continue to co-exist with urban wildlife, things like this happen. (I found it on a blog search, but the author mentions he’s sent copies to the media, so the tale might be told more widely soon.)

I am very sorry to hear about this family’s loss. I deeply understand grief at the loss of a pet — we’ve been through that. But because this author seems to be urging a search-and-destroy mission against coyotes, out of his pain and grief and fury, it’s worth noting: The vast majority of urban-wildlife-vs.-pet cases involve unattended pets. That’s not a humane way to treat your pet, in any circumstance. Cars are a much bigger threat to them than other animals (no matter how “quiet” you think your neighborhood is) — as other, unfriendly humans can be.

Important to note, this sounds like the rare exception. The author does not describe the specific circumstances except to say that the dog’s owner “witnessed” the coyotes take it.

But again, in hopes of saving OTHER pets’ lives, it’s an appropriate occasion for one of my soapbox issues: The most responsible way to care for a pet is to keep it a house pet. Dogs, you can walk, on leashes. Cats — they do NOT “need” to roam outside. Old myth. (Besides possible danger to them, they also are a danger to what relatively few birds we have left in our neighborhoods.)

I’d love to hear your comments if you disagree with me. I just feel strongly that the solution to urban wildlife-vs-pets isn’t “eradicate the urban wildlife,” it’s “keep your dogs on leashes and keep your cats in the house.” (The blogger who lost his family dog also talks about kids — fwiw, I don’t believe you should leave them unsupervised either.)

Scenes from one block of MJ

February 28, 2006 6:29 am
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 |   Pets | Seen around town | West Seattle restaurants

–Everyone jokes about the same telecommuters sitting at Starbucks tables day after day, but we can also report that the same consistency seems to apply to nighttime visitors at the Morgan Junction SBUX. The family with kids doing their homework; the quilters; the guy with the gray ponytail. Someday someone’s going to walk in and everyone’s going to yell, “NORM!”

–The renovation work at Subway is into its down-and-dirty-and-temporarily-closed phase. If you want a sandwich, you’re going to have to go to Jefferson Square, at least for a few days. (Aside, how come Quizno’s is yet another thing we can’t get without driving to Burien?)

–The two cats guarding Aaron’s Bicycle Repair look like critters you wouldn’t want to tangle with. One of them looks like it’s actually tough enough to ride a bike, or at least steal it.

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