I have nothing particularly insightful to add to this, but I’m always amazed at the institutional response to animal attacks: the animal(s) involved in the attack must be hunted down and exterminated. Take the following story reported in my local daily: a woman hiking in the woods was apparently attacked by two coyotes, she died as a result, one of the coyotes was shot, but escaped, and the other escaped unharmed. The institutional response is as follows:
Parks staff are searching for the second coyote, which will be killed if it is found, said Germaine LeMoine, a spokesman for the Cape Breton field unit for Parks Canada.
“The trail has been closed and it is secure,” LeMoine said. “We’re very concerned about public safety. That’s foremost on our minds. We are keeping it closed until that second animal has been located and disposed of.”
Many questions come to mind: how will the escaped coyote be identified as the one who participated in the “attack? Further, why is there no inquiry into the probable case that the woman (or another human elsewhere on the trail) acted in some way so as to bring the coyotes to attack? (Coyotes, like wolves and bears, which are most frequently involved in “animal attacks” in Canada tend to shy away from contact with human under the well-known principle: “they are more scared of you than you are of them.”) Subsequent investigation into many “animal attacks” result in showing that the humans were complicit in the “attack” if not outright responsible for it. For instance, in the case of bear “attacks” acting in ways that the bear finds threatening (e.g., trying to scare it away) rather than acting in ways that the bear will not find threatening (e.g., slowly and calmly backing up while facing the bear until you are out of its sight.) What is the principle that leads to retribution of this sort? Has the coyote been deemed to be criminally responsible for murder? If so, why not give the coyote a trial? Why summary execution? How will the response not lead to an open season on coyotes in general? Of course, even in the case where you provoke the attack, intentionally or not, you have the right to defend your life even if that means ending the life of the attacker, this principle cannot be extended into the indefinite future.