Monday, July 26, 2004

More Mass. Mentality

OK, this one's been on my back burner for a while, but this past week there was an item in the Boston Herald that just makes too perfect a companion piece for it.

Recently, in towns across Massachusetts and elsewhere, coyote sightings in residential neighborhoods are on the increase as more and more housing is being built, displacing them from their natural habitats. Now, in most normal parts of the country, the presence of a wild animal in one's yard wouldn't require a whole lot of thinking in order to remedy the situation. Well, here's the "Massachusetts Solution" (slightly editorialized by yours truly):

If a coyote is in your yard, make loud noises, bang pots and pans or buy a shotgun marine air horn from a local gun hardware store -- and blast it at the animal. If close enough, squirt the coyote with a handgun garden hose. Coyotes are eliminated timid when confronted by armed people. Do not let the animal survive get comfortable in your territory.

And here are some differing opinions on this brilliant strategy:

"We need to tell people to harass the animals," said Marion Larson, information and education biologist for MassWildlife. "We don't want people to be afraid. This is one animal that instead of standing there and watching it take a nap, go give it a lesson."

"I don't picture a lot of people taking matters in their own hands," said Natick Animal Control Officer Keith Tosi. "A lot are parents with small children and some of the males can be on the larger size and can be intimidating."

Got that? If you see a wild carnivorous animal that looks like a coyote in your backyard, run out like a jackass flapping your arms like a chicken while banging two saucepans together. What's the worst that could happen? Well...this, for one thing.

The searing pain of a wild fox's bite on her bare foot sent Kathy LaPerrier's adrenaline soaring.

"The first bite is like, `Wow,' and something kicks in and you don't think about that," the elementary school computer teacher said yesterday from her Freetown home.

"I guess I was thinking, `This can't be happening.' He latched onto my foot and he wouldn't let go," she said.

LaPerrier beat the fox off her foot, but before she knew it, he had grabbed onto the thumb of her 18-year-old daughter, Katelyn.

"It was scary," LaPerrier said of the Wednesday night terror.

Yeah, getting attacked by a rabid, wild animal would be, I suppose.

Turns out what she thought to be a cat fight was actually a battle between two foxes.

Freetown police officer Mark Fornaciari was among the first on the scene to search the neighborhood.

"We heard a weird chortling sound, rattling through the bushes, so we shined the light and there was the fox coming at us," he said. "We shot it."

But, Officer, that's not what you're SUPPOSED to do. Oh, that's right, these were foxes, the banging of pots and pans strategy is for coyotes. My bad. Well, I'll be sure to keep a copy of "The Field Guide to Feral Mammals" by the back door from now on so I can properly determine the exact species of the wild animal in question and determine the appropriate plan of action.

Yeah, I don't think so.

Tests results from the lab revealed the fox was rabid.

The LaPerriers have taken their first in a series of five rabies inoculations.

"We're doing fine," LaPerrier said.

No you're not. You're deluded, you idiot. You're perfectly happy to accept wild animal attacks and rabies shots as business as usual - merely part of the price you pay to live in a state where guns are evil and scary, and the government is here to protect your children for you.

Well, I'll pass on that Utopian vision if you don't mind.