The injuries and deaths of small dogs in Aberdeen, Saskatchewan has some residents up in arms, calling for the destruction of the assailant. The culprit? A great horned owl.
According to Global News, the owl has injured two small dogs and killed one.
“I know a lot of people around town are saying, ‘Oh, it should just be left alone,’” said Miranda Hingston, an Aberdeen resident whose dog was injured by an owl. “But at the same time, what about our animals? There’s a lot of small animals in town.”
Other people interviewed – including residents and a Conservation Officer – stated the owl should be left alone. As a bird of prey, it can mistake small dogs for prey; if it is nesting nearby, it could protect its young from other animals.
Even the online comments all support protecting the owl – something we don’t often see in these cases.
But if the animal in the story were a coyote or wolf, we expect there would be a different response.
In fact, the mere presence of coyotes in a neighbourhood often lead to a call for lethal action, a plan that unfortunately results in quick response.
Why is there a difference in responses?
Part of it is instinctual – humans instinctively fear certain creatures they feel represent a threat (such as large dogs, cats or any species with big, visible teeth). Part of it is cultural – stories of the big bad wolf and dingoes stealing babies permeate our lives from birth.
There are countless circumstances that can lead to conflict; there are countless reasons for our responses in those situations. But science has shown us one thing: the only long-term, sustainable solution is co-existence.
Find out more about how co-existence strategies work and learn how you can help your community be a champion of co-existence in our Living With Wildlife campaign section.