Here’s a two-Americas story for you: Westchester County, in the suburbs of New York City, was home to Hillary Clinton when she pretended to represent New York in the U.S. Senate, and its voters gave Barack Obama 63 percent of their ballots in 2008. It’s the sort of place that causes heavy breathing among the liberal faithful devoutly awaiting the coming of the New Democratic Majority, that blessed condition that will enrapture America when formerly Republican white suburbanites once and for all join forces with the traditional Democratic coalition of ward heelers and welfare recipients in common cause against the pro-lifers, gun nuts, and tea-partying Palin enthusiasts of the GOP. So sayeth the Gospel according to Paul Begala.
But Westchester County has a problem more often seen in rural, Republican-leaning jurisdictions: coyotes. These canine predators are a real menace, a fact that was dramatically illustrated in late June by the case of young Emily Hodulik, age six, who was attacked by a pair of coyotes on a leafy suburban street in the quaint town of Rye. The coyotes’ offensive proceeded along classically predatory lines as the canines ignored the other children in the group and targeted the smallest, weakest child. Miss Hodulik suffered serious bite wounds but escaped without life-threatening injuries. She’s undergoing a series of rabies shots, doesn’t like to sleep alone, and is afraid that there are coyotes in the basement of the family home. Local officials have warned Westchester residents to keep an eye out for the beasts, especially if they have small children.
Coyotes like to attack the little ones, human or otherwise. That was the case for one unfortunate coyote that attacked a puppy out for a jog with his master in Travis County, Texas, in the suburbs of Austin, where coyotes have it a little rougher than they do in suburban New York. That particular coyote had the bad luck to set his gaze on a puppy owned by Gov. Rick Perry, who produced a laser-sighted .380-caliber automatic pistol, loaded with hollowpoints, and sent it to the Happy Hunting Grounds.
Governor Perry made light of the episode — he later signed a peace treaty with the San Antonio Spurs’ coyote mascot — but the gunplay riled more than a few liberals. A Huffington Post story about it received more than 3,000 reader comments, many of them mocking in tone, most aghast that the governor was packing his own laser-sighted heat. Some of them bemoaned the suburban sprawl that is encroaching on the coyotes’ natural habitat, all but demanding a collective examination of conscience: Why do the coyotes hate us? Never mind that coyotes have turned up in Central Park, or that one recent deadly coyote attack — ending the life of a young Canadian folk singer — happened on a hiking trail in a national park. Evolution bred coyotes to be predators. They are what they are, and sometimes they have to be shot.