Reflection: Interspecies Relationships
Mule Deer and Bobcats
By Jeff Marsch (05/12/09 15:10:38)
Related animals: Bobcat, Mule Deer

I went to the Sedgwick Reserve knowing nothing of the area, what animals might be there, or how they might respond to humans. In my experience, the large terrestrial animals that I would like to collaborate with are generally more sensitive to human presence, and would most likely need a good amount of time to develop a relationship in which they would feel comfortable enough with me to establish a real connection and the potential for collaboration. In that light, I went to Sedgwick with no intention of collaborating with anything, but rather just to see what was around. I decided that I would look for tracks to see what animals were sharing the same space. Walking to the north, away from the lodge and past the duck pond I found a pair of tracks with similar gait nearly treading right on top of one another. I later identified the tracks to be those of a bobcat and a mule deer, and did some research into how the two species interact. I found that the bobcat, while being generally much smaller than the mule deer, is occasionally its predator, and I found a picture of one such episode. In the picture the mule deer doesn't seem to be resisting the bobcat, and instead is idly letting the cat take him down by the throat. This appears to be an episode of one animal giving its life to the other so that the other may survive, as we briefly discussed in class. I wonder if animals ever truly do this exercise willingly, and if so if they would ever do the same for a human being. Is the way in which humans hunt recognized by other animals as a sort of engagement in combat? Or are the means used by humans (i.e. guns) so foreign that animals don't consider it a possibility to sacrifice themselves so that the other may survive? It seems that an animal that is making itself vulnerable to a human is doing everything but making itself a sacrifice.

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