- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Victim's experience: 10 years.
Requote the statement you made immediately following the accident: My God, you shot me in the tail.
What relationship, if any, exists between the victim and offender: Victim's statement: Good Friends.
FOR WHOM THE BELLS TINKLE
SIX MONTHS ago the California Fish and Game Department trapped eight coyotes, tied little bells about their necks and released them in a routine game management experiment to determine whether coyotes found in the high country in summer are the same animals found in the lowlands during winter. Today six of the coyotes are still at large but the original purpose of the experiment has been obscured by a bitter controversy concerning the welfare of the belled animals.
The Sacramento Union, which had been vigorously attacking Fish and Game Director Seth Gordon on other department policies, got wind of the belling scheme and saw in it a chance for further campaigning. The paper charged that although deer had been successfully belled to ascertain their migratory habits, the coyote is a predator and must "slyly sneak up on its prey and, with a quick snap of the jaw, sever the neck of its victim." The jingling of a bell as coyotes stalk their supper, therefore, can only disperse their victims.
The proof of the argument seemed to have come in when R. E. Robards, a Trinity County miner, came upon a gaunt, starving and belled coyote. "I gave it milk and dog meal," said Robards, "but it was too far gone, I guess, to pull through....It was the most sadistic thing I've ever seen."
Ben Glading, in charge of game management for the state, quickly admitted "it was very probable" that the Trinity coyote had died of starvation because the bell warned its natural prey. Director Gordon, though he personally didn't know anything about the project until the Union gave outraged editorial voice, backed his field personnel. Fish and Game headquarters stood firm, too, declaring that no disciplinary action was planned. "The fellows didn't get prior approval," headquarters admitted, "but they were doing a job as they saw it." The statement did little to shake the convictions of some sportsmen that belling coyotes, as one group put it, besides being a cruel scheme "would make them outcasts of the pack, thus proving nothing in the way of migration."
As weeks passed and no further coyotes were reported, things looked fairly glum for the embattled department. Then, last week, Coyote No. 2 was bagged at Big Bar in Trinity County, five miles from where it was belled. Unlike Coyote No. 1, this one was fat and sleek.
With this discovery James Stokes, Fish and Game fieldman immediately responsible for the decision to bell the coyotes, came quickly to the experiment's defense. He pointed out that coyotes, if they have to, can live largely on fruit, berries, crickets and grasshoppers and that belling does not affect the ability of the predator to get his food. He added that the sound of the bell is not unusual in nature because wildlife is accustomed to the presence of belled cattle.