Coyotes just made a kill in the lower part of my yard. I was out by the mailbox, and I heard that awful yipping, wailing, voices rising like sirens. Where is Sarah Palin when we need her? Off shooting wolves, no doubt. Riding in a low-flying plane, gun stuck out window, a little lower please, come around again so I can get a better shot. The wolf has no chance. She squeezes the trigger, he stumbles, falls, and an insignificant section of the tundra turns red with his blood.
Despite what’s happening in my yard, I don’t want Palin to bring her gun into my community. I hate it when the coyotes kill things, but I wouldn’t want Palin adding her killing ways to a world already saturated with killing.
The coyotes live in the hills behind my house, and in the fall I see them lope past my house. They’ve actually worn a trail through the back yard. If I stand in my Florida room, and I make a noise, they’ll stop and look at me.
Long-legged, wirey-haired, and skinny, they look like dogs. My dog, Steeler, looks like a wolf. Steeler is deaf and nearly blind. He sleeps on a doggy pillow on our bedroom floor. Once he was young. But even when he was in his prime, he couldn’t have outrun those Alaskan planes they use on their wolf hunts.
In the fall of the year, when the bush-hog man comes to cut the brush in my back field, the coyotes follow along behind him, snatching up bits of food. For days afterwards they prowl the pasture, and they feast. You can watch them, moving across the field, searching for things left in the wake of the bush-hog. When they sense some prey in the matted grass, they stand erect, ears up, watching. Then they pounce. Like a cat pounces on a mouse.
The keening in my lower yard goes on. I hope it isn’t one of the fawns born here last month. I scoop up the mail and run toward the house, wanting to stop it, stop the killing, at the very least wanting to save Sammy, my humane society cat.
I needn’t have worried about Sammy. He’s under the holly tree at the corner of my patio, relaxing. He seems undisturbed by all the racket. Cats love mayhem, my friend Shannon says. They thrive on it. Lazy creatures, they are content to wait for some creature to stumble into their territory, and their tails twitch, and saliva gathers at the corner of their mouths as they consider what it will be like to catch that bird or mouse or ground squirrel.
Sammy is no better than the coyotes that are enjoying the kill in my lower yard. I am ambivalent about the coyotes. But not about the wolves, or Steeler, or Sammy. These creatures I love. I do not love Sarah Palin. Double, triple, quadruple standard, maybe. But something inside me insists that coyotes, wolves from whom my Steeler is descended, and Sammy, are all doing what nature intended them to do. But Sarah Palin? No. She doesn’t need to climb into a plane and shoot at helpless creatures who have no chance against her and her guns and her kind.
The noise in my lower yard settles down, and I take the mail inside the house. Later I’ll walk down and try to see what happened.
This I know: There’s joy in the cry of the coyote. There’s tremendous excitement. There’s lust. The coyotes have had a successful hunt, and they will live another day.
I wonder if that’s what Sarah Palin feels when she’s riding in one of the Alaskan planes, and she raises her gun, and aims it at a running wolf, and pulls the trigger, and watches it fall.
Shooting wolves from a plane in order to give hunters more opportunities to kill elk and moose does not seem compassionate or fair. Regarding Sarah Palin as a hunter in general, however, I have to give her some credit.
From a vegetarian point-of-view, there is something to be said for eating with awareness. I’d like to know how that food ended up on my plate. Before eating a piece of meat, are you cognizant that this was a living, breathing animal? Can you still enjoy every bite with this knowledge?
Hunters like Sarah Palin have first-hand knowledge of their food source. Maybe they have to steel themselves against what the animal must be feeling when the bullet enters the animal’s body. But at least they can observe the fear and pain inflicted because of the hunter’s desire to kill and to eat meat. They observe the consequences of their desire.
People shopping for meat at the grocery store are not having this first-hand experience. They have no knowledge of the pain expressed in the animal’s eyes before it died. Or the blood that poured from its wounds.
If more people had to hunt in order to eat meat, I believe fewer animals would die, and there would be less suffering. Who would have the heart to go through with killing an animal? Are the pork chops you cook for dinner really that good? There are so many healthy, delicious, and inexpensive alternatives to eating meat these days, it’s amazing to me that more people don’t try it out. Something doesn’t have to die in order for you to have a good meal.
Farms, slaughterhouses, and grocery stores have made it so easy to buy meat. Is this food-delivering chain natural?
I wouldn’t want to give up grocery stores or many of the other conveniences of modern life. There’s nothing wrong with these advances as long as they don’t cause suffering and death.
I look forward to the day when McDonalds starts serving up black bean burgers and chick patties instead of dead cows and chickens. I think I’ll be the first in line.
Until then, I have to give hunters some credit. Even the wolf-killing Sarah Palin.