Let’s chill it with the bear attack stories


In Massachusetts, where most of my family lives, my mother attended a town meeting about the increased presence of coyotes shortly after Trump was elected. State officials and conservationists patiently explained that coyotes were unlikely to attack humans and that they were important to the ecosystem anyway: people shouldn’t kill them. Furious and scared woman begged not to agree. “It seems the coyotes have more rights than me,” she fumed.

My mother interpreted this bizarre statement as a sign of America’s widening ideological chasm — and certainly, the woman’s understanding of her own coyote victimization is deeply reactionary in the classic sense. But given the shark-and-cougar panic sweeping the progressive northeast, it’s also beyond ideology, a bigger issue of modern human consciousness.

In addition to getting in the way of sensible wildlife policy, environmental educators say, predator panics alienate people from nature. Humans are part of an ecosystem that depends on a balance between animals and plants, and when we overreact to threats, recklessly killing predators or failing to feed and protect those animals we find frightening , we are unbalancing these ecosystems. Worse still, the panic of predators causes us to see ‘nature’ as something threatening and outside of ourselves, which of course has troubling implications for climate change, a crisis we cannot afford. cope without understanding ourselves as part of the natural world and interdependent with it. .

Some educators and conservationists are reacting positively to predators, urging the public to rise above our current state of terror and treat animals with care. Text advertising an ongoing shark exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, for example, promises that the show will combat the image of sharks as “fearsome predators”, instead “demonstrating that While sharks pose little threat to people, we pose a serious threat to their future. the the wall street journal disputing the bald eagle story, one raptor advocate insisted that the birds posed little threat to pets; indeed, he fears that the newspaper’s sensationalized story could incite retaliation against the eagles by frightened members of the public.


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