Where does this primal fear of large predators that we have in this country come from? Big bad wolf stories? Fear of the unknown? I see many posts on various dog lists and social network sites expressing a deep fear of wolves, coyotes, bears, and mountain lions. I can understand a fear of grizzly bears and mountain lions, which are capable of killing people. But I recently read a post by someone on a dog list who said that she should shoot coyotes just for being on her property.
If you spend time in the woods tracking these predators, you see that they have rich lives of their own and avoid people. Why would you shoot a wild canine and be fine with domestic canines? What’s the difference? I can see if you were respectfully using the animal for nourishment or for warmth. Also, if you had livestock, I could understand a concern though my understanding is that, in the case of wolves, it’s cheaper to compensate the rancher than to try and eradicate the wolf. I am sure the threat to livestock is also exaggerated. Also, people fear for their pets and themselves. However, if you actually look at real data, the woods is one of the safest places you can be. You biggest threat to you by far is other people, following closely by domestic dogs. Even bees and snakes are much more likely to kill you than bears and coyotes. Our fear is way out of proportion to the reality of wild animals.
That does not mean it is zero and I am always aware in the woods, keep my dogs leashed, and carry pepper spray. But we have seen many bears and coyotes and they have never been a problem. However, off leash dogs come after us in an aggressive manner all the time.
As a species, we have become very out of touch with the wild. A connection to the wild and the wild within, as Paul Rezendes calls it, is crucial to our survival as a species. Let’s learn how to appreciate these animals and not fear them.