Takeaway message from the seal “attack” in West Vancouver Tuesday: don’t feed wild animals (and yes, definitely put your kids in a life jacket around water)! Though some news agencies have not reported on this, prior to being pulled into the water the girl was feeding the seal fish guts as her father cleaned fish on the docks. This is a practice that the kids love according to other fishermen and is quite common on the waterfront.
Which is somewhat akin to people who think it would be “fun” to swim with orcas, or try to get their children close to black bears for the photo opportunity. Let’s be clear, wild animals have the right to be left alone by us, and if we don’t leave them alone and then get hurt it’s not exactly the animal’s fault.
The real shame of such ignorance about the wild is the number of comments I’ve seen on news sites this morning calling for the seal to be killed or taken into captivity by the Vancouver Aquarium. Which seems to always be the solution to anything “we” don’t like: kill it, bomb it, shoot it, drown it, capture it, torture it. As though we aren’t culpable in our own actions, or for that matter – reactions. As though humans are the threatened species, rather than the other way around, and our rights to kill extend to luring animals into dangerous situations and then “putting them down for public safety”. Although it’s illegal to hunt in such a manner, there seems to be no ban on people acting in such a stupid fashion that an animal ends up dead.
I suppose what things like this really highlight is the disconnect that most people have with our own wild and uncivilized roots, from the land itself, from other undomesticated beings. Hell, many people even have trouble mustering empathy when it comes to other humans who aren’t just like us which makes the wholesale slaughter of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan somehow acceptable. The attitudes are indeed one and the same no matter whether we are talking about a seal “cull” or the need to root terror out of x,y, or z country.
The upshot of my post? Leave the damned seal alone. And don’t feed the bears/seals/racoons/coyotes/cougars.