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The C.A.S.H. Courier

ARTICLE from the Spring 2009 Issue

A Coyote Died Last Night

By Karen Schumaker

Last night a coyote died, a mile east of us. (Just) yesterday she was alive. When she turned her narrow snout toward me, her close-set eyes looked straight into mine. She wanted to run, but couldn’t. One of her rear legs kept collapsing and the other was only good for a split-second three-legged prop-up before she’d fall again. We saw blood in the snow under her.

She was trying to climb the bank the snow plow had left. I got out of the vehicle (I’d been given a ride) and tried to approach her, speaking softly. Millenniums of persecution from humans caused her to use the last of her strength to climb the bank and crawl down the other side. There she struggled in the three-foot-deep snow, trying to reach the shelter of a tree below her. I didn’t pursue her, just watched helplessly. All her instincts were to flee, but the strong legs she’d relied on all of her short life suddenly were not cooperating. She was fighting the snow, half-dragging herself, still precious feet away from the tree. That’s when she turned her body and looked at me. I choked out, “go to the tree, that’s good.”

I went back to the truck. It had a large black dog in the back seat, and an ATV and other gear completely filled the bed. I told the driver to go on, I had “no tranq gun or cage.”

This morning I woke at 4 a.m. and prepared vitamin-embedded rice balls, a pack of antibiotics, blankets, bandages. At dawn I set out, pack-laden, on snowshoes, pulling the sled behind me.

It took a long time to find her because the blood in the road had faded to a tan color. I walked half a mile too far, realized it, came back, using binocs to study the small-treed meadow.

I found the blood and within seconds, located her. She was under the tree. She was right side up, feet tucked under her body, chin on the snow, like a dog resting by a fireplace, but her eyes were shut and frost dusted her head.

Rigor mortis had stiffened her. I turned her over and palpated the stiff legs. The fur on her left groin was scraped off and the groin bloody. The legs seems fine but the groin was full of wound. I found a tiny hole there in the groin., consistent with a small-caliber murder weapon. I had no rubber gloves, so I didn’t cut her open to look for a bullet. I used handfuls of snow to wipe her rich, iron-smelling blood off my hands. I believe she was gut-shot with internal bleeding; her pelvis had been shattered at least on one side, explaining the inability to use her hind legs.

We’ve had no coyote song for at least a week now. Three weeks ago, a young man on an ATV stopped in the road to talk to me. He was “hunting coyotes,” he said, because he could get “50 or 60 bucks” for a hide. When I asked if he had ever heard the coyotes sing in the mountains at night, he admitted he never had.

The same people who hate and kill “gophers” and ground squirrels because they say the rodents wreck the pastures, also inexplicably, hate and kill coyotes (whose primary food sources are those same rodents).

This area is wild. The only “pastures” around us are God-sewn wildflower meadows or clear cut damage. No one should have to die, no clear sweet wild voice should be silenced forever by a bullet.

Please sign below and mail this story, as I intend to, to your state fish and game office. The one in Olympia (WA) or Boise (ID) is best; local game wardens won’t care. They’re overwhelmed with territory and can scarcely do their jobs catching poachers who break the feeble, inadequate, “right-to-not-be-murdered-but-only-at-certain-times-of-the-year” laws which protect only “game”.

I’m mailing mine because of a coyote’s eyes, her death has to mean something; it can’t be in vain.

————————

I can’t tell you how this haunting account came to our attention, but it arrived via a C.A.S.H. member as a FYI. We managed to contact its author, Karen M. Schumacher, who lives in the wilderness of Idaho. Ms. Schumacher puts out a newsletter regularly called Newhaven News which can be ordered from: PO Box 217, Deary, ID 83823-0127

She wrote back in relevant part: “I am the daughter of a politician/trophyhunter/gunsmith/wildlife writer, born and raised in N.E. Washington.” Ms. Schumaker works politically, and with her community to stop hunting. Karen asks that you send the letter below to: Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game, POB 25, Boise, ID 83707. Office of Human Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Dept. of the Interior, Washington, DC 20240. Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, www.wa.gov/wdfw/

Sample Letter suggest by Ms. Schumaker.

I agree with the sentiments in the above story. I am one of the vast majority of Americans who enjoy hearing and seeing wild “life” alive. What does it say about us as a species when, with the human population increasing, (and hence our familiarity to them also), wild animals increasingly run from us, rather than feeling safe to accept us as friends? Wild animals have families; feel love, pain, and fear. They are interesting, beautiful, and knowable as individuals. They are not “things” to be exploited for (bad) “sport”, cruel “recreation”, or hurt for economic gain.

Sincerely,

Also send a letter to your state and federal legislators. You can find them online or by contacting 1-877-LOHV-US7. That’s the number of the League of Humane Voters..

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