This isn't our usual beat, but we don't know whose it is, and we got a call, so we're answering.
An Ithaca Blog reader, new to the area, asked if we could find out what the legality is around here about stringing up coyotes in front yards.
On Sunday she was driving through the town of Candor, on Route 96B, on her way to Binghamton. She screeched to a halt at the sight of what she thought was a dead German Shepherd strung up by its hind legs from the limb of a tree in the front yard of a house, maybe 10 yards from the road.
It turned out not to be a dog, but a coyote.
A conversation at a Candor gas station revealed no information and no concern from anyone, other than to note that coyotes are quite a hazard, and maybe this person was making a point. Certainly it was a lesson to this particular coyote. And possibly its fellows, too, which are known to be observant, if not exactly analytical.
No one seemed to be concerned that it at least looks bad, and maybe even nightmarish to children. The thinking seemed to be that it is not as nightmarish as the coyote catching you.
So we were asked to get to the bottom of it, the legality of the practice.
We spoke to officials at the county and state level. They said they weren't aware of any regulations that would prohibit this practice.
We mentioned the aesthetics of the practice. The county official said yeah, but people do it with deer all the time. To let them dry (or whatever hunters call it).
We said yeah, but at least there's a purpose to that practice, and people are aware that deer get hunted, and aren't likely to mistake a strung- up deer for Fido.
The county official said there might be a practical purpose to this too, that the guy who killed this coyote is preparing to take its pelt, and "hanging it in a tree keeps varmints from getting at it." Yeah, well, too late for that.
We have friends in the country, and know coyotes are a fearsome problem. Maybe this fellow thinks passers-by will sleep better, knowing guys like him are on the coyote case.
I don't know. Maybe they are sleeping worse.
Maybe there's a line to be drawn around violence, even violence deemed necessary, to distinguish it from barbarism, and to keep it in its place - which, even when justified, should not be a place of jolly roadside pride. Should it?
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