Fear is a funny thing. It sparks up when you least expect it and knows no logic.
I’ve written before about the coyote bounty in my province of Nova Scotia. It’s an issue I have a lot of personal interest in. It has baffled me why few seem to have as much concern as I do about the killing of animals who are only here because of human intervention. I have not yet heard if the provincial government will be renewing the bounty for the upcoming hunting season but the program has run for the last two years. I’d like to believe they have realized this part of their plan isn’t doing anything to stem the population, though I have little hope.
Regardless, I felt pretty confident in my belief that coyotes are very rarely a threat to humans. Even if spotted, the chances one will attack are slim, especially if you know what to do. I blithely wandered through forests and other quiet, deserted areas without worrying about my safety. Or that of my dog.
Nothing happened (obviously or this would be a very different post!) but the other animal was clearly keeping an eye on them the whole time they were there. Creepy, right?
At first I shrugged it off, content with the knowledge that my PH grew up in the mountains of Alberta and is very knowledgable about avoiding encounters with wildlife. He simply got Shiva back on the leash and left the area. Nothing to stress over.
However, the next night I found myself alone with Shiva in an area not too far from where they had been the day before. The fog had started to roll in and the normally popular path was empty. Typically it would make me happy to have the trail to ourselves but on this night I couldn’t stop thinking about the coyote.
Talk about the power of suggestion! I started seeing them every where. At every sound I’d pause and stare into the darkness of the trees, wondering if we were being watched by wild canine eyes. Every time Shiva seemed distracted by something I would feel the paranoia rise and I’d start to run, trying to get her attention and get us out of the general area. As we walked I recognized for the first time how truly vulnerable we are when walking alone. If something was to happen, there would be no way of reaching help. I’d have to rely entirely upon my city-girl resources.
The idea was frightening. All the statistics in the world couldn’t shake the fear either. While logically I knew I had a bigger chance of being killed by car careening onto the sidewalk, it didn’t stop me from quickening my movements or heading home sooner rather than later.
I still am against the bounty, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I have a right to live any more than coyotes do. Their safety is much more at risk than mine anyway. But I might be taking the educational resources at my disposal a little more seriously. And maybe it wouldn’t hurt to carry a big walking stick with me when in the forest.
Just in case.