Friday, March 27, 2009

Call of the (Socially Inept) Wild

We live next to a State game preserve. Like many in the Northeast we have a deer problem. And a coyote problem. Probably 3 - 4 times a month, the coyote pack takes down a deer within 500 meters of the house, waking us up with the noise of the kill and the fighting over the scraps afterwards.

Once in a while someone gets lost from the pack and spends half the night howling like some sort of mutated wolf with his testicles in a vise.

The other night we had something new. A coyote sat in the woods right behind the house and yipped. Not howled. Yipped. It sounded something like "arrrip, arrrip, arrrip". He'd repeat this about 10 times, shut up for 30 seconds or a minute, and just when you started to drift back to sleep, he'd start up again. Just when I'd had enough, and decided that getting fully awake enough to reach for the shotgun was warranted, he stopped. Did I mention the mangy cur pulled this at 2:30 AM? On a day I had to get up at 4:15 to catch my train?

The next day, my wife, who was having a bad day dealing with stupid people, mentioned that the coyote was just one in a line of mouth breathers she'd been dealing with. "I'm surrounded by idiots. Event he local wildlife is retarded. Come on, he didn't figure out that the pack either couldn't hear him or was so embarrassed by his lame-assed howl that they were lying quiet in the woods pretending to be asleep?"

She's right. He was probably the coyote equivalent of the geek who always shows up at the gathering uninvited, unshowered and smelling of cheese.

She and I have had this conversation before about sharks. The kelp-hugging ecologists love to say: "Sharks like seals. If you don't look like a seal, you won't get bitten. They bite you by mistake."

Yeah, right. Most sharks prefer seals. Most people don't prefer stinky tofu. But it is on the menu in some restaurants.

So one of the rules I live by is to always be on the lookout for the retarded shark*.

*The retarded coyote is not going to live long enough to put his genes into the pool if he pulls that shit again.


Janiece said...

Hehe. For us, it's the Boogie-Dog who wakes himself up from a dream and then barks.

And even though he's also retarded, we'll keep him because he's cute.

Eric said...

And that, Janiece (and you may already know this), is exactly how dogs may have domesticated humans: they discovered this wide-open ecological niche (human garbage-piles) and adapted to fill it by becoming sufficiently cute and nonaggressive to eventually enter into a kind of symbiosis with our ancestors (or so one of the more popular current hypotheses goes), with cute being one of the selective pressures on the species.

This, it is suggested, is why puppies tend to look more like furry babies than other young canids.

Natural selection is likely to have its way with John's coyote, too. But probably not positive selection, since it seems his yipping didn't get him fed or laid. Poor genetic dead-end doggie.

mattw said...

Unless John's coyote was getting laid and instead of being a screamer he was a yipper.

John the Scientist said...

Well it was MY idea to go there...

Hey, we didn't enjoy it, did we? We'll avoid it in the future, won't we (outside of UCF NYC initiations, that is :D)

CW said...

It's fascinating to me that you have such a coyote problem. We have them too - the other night we're sitting around the pot belly stove in a friend's barn listening to them, but they were pretty far away - not nearly close enough to keep you awake at night. Our dogs however, sometimes get up in the middle of the night and bark at the window - we figure probably deer, but I guess very quiet coyote are a possibility.

Also the notion that sharks only bite seals is retarded. There are no seals in Florida, where the sharks will, at times, bite almost anything. Sharks are not particularly dangerous predators to humans, but their behavior is very widely variegated and somewhat unpredictable. I recommend jumping into the water with a school of feeding lemon sharks, or harassing a large bull shark, neither of which have ever seen a seal, but will attack humans under some circumstances.

CW said...

Oops - I meant to say I do NOT recommend jumping into the water with lemon sharks or molesting a bull shark.