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When Elephants Fly
by John Harmon
May 11, 2003

I have seen many strange things happen over the years and thought I had "seen it all" when it comes to the behavior of wild animals. A squirrel has attacked me, a young deer visited my float house and I've even seen David Copperfield make an elephant fly but none of those events prepared me for what I saw on Monday morning.

Driving along the Alaska Highway (fortunately with a witness) I was not expecting any excitement. There was a red car a quarter of a mile or so ahead of me and as it swerved out into the other lane I saw what appeared to be a dog run out into the road after it. There's nothing unusual about dogs chasing cars. This one turned and saw me coming and crouched down along the side of the road ready to attack again. As I got close this animal jumped up and charged my truck like any good car-chasing dog would do. It was at this point, when I got a good close look, that I realized it was not a dog at all but a coyote. It was not a dog that looked like a coyote but a full-grown apparently healthy wild animal.

You have to wonder what this animal was thinking. Did it just wander in from the bush and seeing a road and cars for the first time in it's life think they were animals to chase down or was it just playing? Where did this animal learn to do this or is it instinctive canine behavior? You have to wonder how long this coyote is going to survive. I grabbed my camera and went back but the coyote was gone by the time I got there. Until Monday I thought seeing an elephant fly was the most unusual thing I had seen but this coyote tops that.

This week I also got a chance to read a new book. It's by a lady named Carole Rubin and it's titled "How to Get Your Lawn and Garden Off Drugs: A Basic Guide To Pesticide Free Gardening in North America" It's put out by Harbour Publishing and is a paperback of 144 pages. This is a completely revised, updated and timely edition of Canada's first organic lawn-care book published in 1989. The publisher claims it's "a must for all gardeners and homeowners who want to tread lightly on the earth."

The book talks about some of the history of chemical pesticides that were first formulated during the Second World War as agents of chemical warfare. She also talks about how pesticides were developed as "killers" in the first place and lists their effects on the environment, our water, fisheries, wildlife species, soils and bodies.

It has a forward written by Robert Bateman. Besides being a world-renowned artist he was also named in 1998 by the US National Audubon Society as one of the 20th centuries 100 Champions of Conservation. He was previously named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1984.

The book has also gained the attention of another famous conservationist Dr. David Suzuki. He said, "The use of chemicals to "manage" nature is symptomatic of the eco-crisis. We have to kick the habit and this delightful book is a welcome answer to the oft-asked question, "What can I do?""

The publisher describes the book as an "inspiring guide that covers all regions of North America, and demonstrates how lawns and gardens can flourish by replacing synthetic chemicals with balanced organic alternatives. It contains clear instructions on how to properly choose, feed, water, aerate and cut your lawn and garden plants, plus a glossary and an updated list of organic suppliers".

The book is full of practical methods for eliminating the use of pesticides and has some valuable information on the so-called "organic" pesticides like solutions made with garlic. The book will tell you how to avoid problems with bugs and other pests in the first place so you won't need to get rid of them.

It's well worth the read and the $14.95 it will cost you from or your local bookseller.

On your way back from the bookstore be sure to keep an eye out for that coyote!

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