There have been numerous instances of people being bitten by coyotes in Stanley Park, the Jewel in the crown of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation together run, own, and manage this massive 1,000 acre forested recreational center, located cheek by jowl with the Pacific Ocean and Hollywood North.
What is their reaction to this more than merely annoying state of coyote affairs? They seem most interested in getting to the bottom of exactly why it is that these beasts are now mauling park attendees. They are also cautioning people not to feed the animals. Oh, that, and, also, the park is now closed from 7pm to 7am, and people are being warned not to enter at any other time of the day either.
One cannot help but thinking of the Vancouver Park Board while also contemplating Nero playing his fiddle while Rome burned.
Suppose, just suppose (I’m glad you’re sitting down while reading this, otherwise you are going to keel right over) that it was not these bureaucrats in charge of Stanley Park, but a real estate corporation which owned it- lock, stock, barrel, and coyote.
Might they act any differently? Presumably so, since they would have the bottom line in mind; they would know that the way to maximize profits is to satisfy the customer. The latter would pay entrance fees by the day, week, month, or year, similar to the financing of Disney World, or other such comparable holdings. What options might such an entity conceive of?
Option 1. Round up all the coyotes and kill them. There is precedent for this sort of thing, in that bears have been inundating the North Shore of Vancouver, and the authorities recently euthanized almost a dozen of them. This would cure the biting problem, but all too many paying customers have a soft spot in their hearts for these four footed marauders and might well object.
Better would be, Option 2. Capture all of these beasts and send them to zoos where they will be safe, appreciated, and add to the GDP, instead of detracting from it. The difficulty is that zoos are not politically correct and more of them are shutting down than starting up. Coyotes, too, are not exactly an exotic breed.
Hence, Option 3. Once again lasso them, or corral them the modern way with darts that put them to sleep (poison would affect other animals), and set up a zoo right there in the middle of Stanley Park; the denizens would be limited to the coyotes captured therein. Even “Friends of Coyotes” who don’t want them to be disturbed in their natural habitat would vastly prefer that they be preserved in this manner, rather than be obliterated. The rest of us would then be able to breathe a sigh of relief; we could then have our cake and eat it, too. Our friends of field and stream would be safe, and so would we.
Would this special “Coyote Zoo” last forever, or would it end when the present inhabitants die off, assuming they were not allowed to breed? This issue we could safely leave to the profit-maximizing tendencies of the owners. They would do whatever they think will garner them the greatest returns; that is, satisfy the most paying customers.
Walter E. Block is Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at Loyola University New Orleans