/An animal uprising

An animal uprising

From Shaman’s Rock

By Jim Poling Sr.

There are signs that the animal kingdom is fed up with us and beginning to rebel. 

Two-ton killer whales are ramming yachts and fishing boats. A sea otter has been stealing surf boards from surfers on the California coast. Sharks are terrorizing people on the east coast and alligators are mauling people in Florida. 

Closer to home, coyotes are more visible and bolder, while groundhogs are devastating vegetable and flower gardens. Wire mesh fencing hasn’t stopped them from consuming my wife’s parsley patch.

News reports of animal rebellion now are so common that the shouts of the rebelling animals in George Orwell’s 1945 novella Animal Farm are echoing in my head.

“Four legs good, two legs bad,” Orwell’s animals shout during a rousing speech by Old Major, a big old boar, calling for a revolution. 

“Man is the only creature that consumes without producing,” Old Major says, urging the animals to take control of their lives back from humans.

Relating the current animal behaviour to Orwell’s Animal Farm is perhaps an overreaction. However, something definitely is going on with the world’s animals.

Since 2020 there have been 500 reports of killer whales ramming boats off the coasts of Portugal and Spain. Several have been so badly damaged that they sank.

Last month a whale attacked a yacht off the coast of Scotland. Pods of whales have appeared off the east and west coast of North America and there is concern the whales will start attacking boats there.

Alligator attacks in Florida have increased 66 per cent in recent years. And earlier this month a 69-year-old woman walking her dog in South Carolina was attacked and killed by a gator.

Shark attacks also have increased. 

Globally an estimated four dozen people have suffered shark attacks this year, six fatally. The number is on course to exceed last year’s total of 81 attacks. The annual high for attacks is 111 in 2015.

On the July 4th weekend a 15-year girl was attacked by a shark at a New York beach. She survived.

Coyote populations have grown, as have sightings in human populated areas. Researchers say coyote density in some parts of Canada has risen to as high as 2.3 coyotes per square kilometre. 

There have been two noteworthy coyote attacks in the last few weeks. A nine-year-old boy was mauled June 24 in the North Kildonan area of Winnipeg. One week later a four-year-old child was attacked in the same neighbourhood. Both children were treated in hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

Some people believe that increasing wild animal-human interactions are caused by growing wild animal populations. Others say human populations spreading into animal territories is causing conflicts.

Climate change also is said to be a factor in increasing wildlife-human conflicts. Global warming is melting sea ice in the Arctic, causing polar bears to spend more time on land and creating more encounters with humans. Earlier this year a mother and small child were killed in Alaska by a polar bear.

Whatever the reasons, strange animal behaviour is another sign of Nature trying to tell us something.

Nature is a wise grandmother who can teach us much, if we are willing to listen. (The numbskulls who continue to toss Tim’s coffee cups and beer cans from car and truck windows obviously are not).

 One of her important lessons is for us to abandon the human ego that makes us think of things in Nature as either useful to us or useless in general.

Everything in Nature has a purpose and is useful even if it doesn’t benefit we humans in some way.

As has been said many times by many writers: Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.

We are Nature, albeit only one part of it. So when we spit on Nature, we spit on ourselves.

Perhaps our poor understanding of Nature and the way we mistreat it is the reason the animals appear to be rebelling.

To quote again the rebellious Old Major in Animal Farm:

“There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up in a single word– Man.”