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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Teton Tuesday: Necessary Violence

Ever since civilization happily elevated most of us from the toothier, nutrient-supply side of the food chain, violent aggression has lost much of its practical value to human beings and our society. That is not to say that violence doesn’t continue to propagate itself into our way of life, but for every example of modern violence that would be generally considered warranted and useful to our species, there are ten-fold examples of its costly and often tragic misuse. Even those rare instances where violence is justified are most often just a reaction to another individual or group’s misguided indulgence in the primal bloodlust that still lingers in our DNA despite its diminished value to our species as a whole. This is not true, however, in the animal kingdom. In the woods as in the sea (for predators at least) violence remains the only way dinner stays put. It also plays a key role in the way territories are established, hierarchies are settled, offspring are protected, mates are competed over and key resources are distributed. The wilds of Tejon are no different, and this week we are going to look at examples of the way violent aggression is used by some of our resident wildlife to advance themselves along the pitiless cycle of survival that so characterizes the natural world.             
Young male boars square-off in order to determine a dominance hierarchy that can be used to establish territories and access to females.
Nesting ravens attack this red-tailed hawk for threatening their chicks. Notice how the Ravens always try and engage the hawk from above and behind. 

Rival coyotes compete over access to a wild boar carcass.
Here a young cougar refines its hunting skills by going after smaller prey. Unfortunately my camera's sensor was too slow to capture this cougar pouncing on a gray squirrel.