There have been several truly horrific stories in the news the past few days, and I haven't been watching enough television to know whether this story has received much coverage in the U.S., but I wanted to blog about it because my second novel, currently in progress, deals a bit with coyotes and how the Maine Warden Service deals with them.
Like nearby Nova Scotia, Maine is home to the larger eastern subspecies of Canis latrans. These animals have been much vilified by deer hunters who have seen them, rightfully, as efficient competitors. So over the years I've heard lots of horror stories — many far-fetched — about the viciousness of coyotes. But the truly terrible experience of 19-year-old Taylor Josephine Stephanie Luciow, who was attacked and killed by two coyotes last week while hiking on Cape Breton Island, has certainly made me question some of my assumptions. I'll be a bit more cautious the next time I encounter a coyote in the woods, for instance.
But I'm thinking also of the politics here. Isolated incidents shouldn't drive shifts in wildlife management policy (and it's still unclear, as best I know, whether one of the animals was rabid), but I wouldn't be surprised at all if sportsmen and their lobbyists use the tragedy in Nova Scotia for reinstituting Maine's coyote-snaring program, for example.
In any case, you can't help but feel for Luciow's family as they grapple with the sad and surreal experience of losing a daughter this way.