PAWS Magazine

Issue 36, Winter 1998

Choosing to Coexist

Co•ex•ist: (ko’ig-zist) Verb

1. To exist together, at the same time, or in the same place
2. To live in peace with another or others despite differences

In North America, we live in one of the richest areas in the world–an area with stable governments, enormous wealth and resources, and endowed with spectacular scenery and wildlife. In our daily lives, we encounter wildlife in many different places and ways. How we choose to react and interact determines our wildlife experiences. The choices we make in interacting with wildlife are determining the world which our children will inhabit and inherit. As an example, perhaps you have moles digging tunnels under your lawn. One of your choices is to poison them. No more moles, nice tidy lawn. But your daughter, in her lifetime, will have to deal with the pollution and poisons that you have used to "maintain" your environment. The choice was yours; the effects will be felt even after you are gone. And what about the bats and squirrels in the attic, the raccoons in the garbage, the opossums in the garden and the pigeons everywhere? Perhaps you can choose to share the lawn with the moles, and your environment with all the wildlife who are part of the complex web of living things, that delicate yet enduring, exquisitely balanced system that supports all life on earth, especially our own.

Native North American peoples have often looked at the consequences of their actions down through seven generations. If the result is unhealthy for the environment, or adversely affects the people or wildlife, then the action is reconsidered and an alternative is sought.

We can learn to live as a part of nature, not apart from nature. Choice begins at home, with the wildlife in your backyard. I challenge you to think about your choices in living with wildlife. Think in seven generations, choose to share, seek alternatives to confrontation, control destruction and pollution. Learn to live with nature, with wildlife. It will enrich your life and the lives of your children’s children. You are choosing what kind of world they will live in. The choice is yours.

Kip Parker is the Executive Director of the Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (WildArc), British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Victoria Branch.

Facts about Rabies: Is rabies your biggest concern when encountering a wild animal? Fortunately, this disease is not present in a significant number of animals in Washington. According to King County Department of Health, bats are the only species of wild animals to have ever tested positive for rabies in this state. Bats brought to public health departments tested positive for the virus less than seven percent of the time. Although rabid animals present a serious concern in the eastern United States, the rabies virus does not pose a significant problem in Washington state.

Back to Issue 36 Contents

Back to PAWS Magazine Issues

Sign Up for PAWS E-newsletters!

Contact Information

* denotes a required field

Which regular PAWS Newsletters would you like to receive?

Please check all that apply

E-mail this Page

E-mail this Page

Like what you see? Send a link to this page via e-mail. We respect your privacy. Neither you nor your friend will be added to PAWS’ mailing list.

Security Code

Thank you!

Your message has been sent.

Note: We will do our best to respond to your email on the next weekday. For an immediate answer, please give us a call.


I'm sorry, your message was not sent. Double-check your security code. If this error persists, please contact us at (425) 787-2500 or

Fatal Error

I'm sorry, there was a fatal error sending your message. We cannot process your request at this time. please contact our support team at (425) 787-2500 or