The predators of the animal kingdom aren’t always the bad guys, especially to organic farmers like Peggy Hansen.
Everybody roots for the rabbit - -and who could resist its fuzzy, twitchy ears, its soft brown eyes, its perfect tufted tail? The bobcat, on the other hand, has a look about him, a certain shiftiness and cunning, that makes us hoard our sympathy. His fur may be roughed up, his whiskers a bit tattered, or maybe they're a bit too sleek, his belly a tad too plump, and we wonder just what he's been up to. Nothing good, we're pretty certain. The rabbit, on the other hand, is just going about his business, being cute and harboring no thoughts of violence.
Predators are tough to cheer for, knowing how success for them translates to their prey--death, mostly quick but sometimes not, and becoming someone's blood-soaked dinner. That'll ruin your plans--munching on that new young lemon tree, maybe, or snacking on the blueberry bushes, or even making a new batch of baby rabbits. Prey species generally seem innocent, while predators are merciless.
As a farmer, I have mixed emotions on the whole dynamic. Rabbits are super cute, and like a lot of folks, I grew up with Peter Rabbit and his posse. I thought of them as friends--cute, mischievous, and clever. The reality of rabbits on a farm is altogether different: they can be quite destructive, and I depend on predators to keep them in check, at least a little.
So when I see a bobcat prowling in the brush, or hear an owl hooting in the nearby pines, I thank them for their help, and wish them happy hunting. After all, predators need to eat too, to keep the food chain and circle of life humming along in good order. And I need fewer rabbits, to keep the lemons and the blueberries alive and making food for my own kind.