Saturday, March 28, 2015

Why do animals fear humans?

Interesting observation to share, about the universal fear of man found within animals in nature.

We moved the sheep back to the foothill property friday to allow them access to the fresh green grass of spring there.  But something interesting happened in the process that brings this topic up.

There was one late born lamb, only a week or two old. S single lamb born to a new mom.  As expected, she is very aloof. Moms usually keep their young away from everyone, even the herd, for a few weeks. This protects the lamb from abuse from others in the herd fighting for food, etc.  This new mom was very good at protecting her young, and even herself.  We loaded 2 trailers of sheep and older lambs quite easily , lured by alfalfa and grain.  But not this mom. Nope! she stayed far back and even took a dozen or so of the sheep with her, all refusing to load.

We ended up separating her from teh rest, and successfully lured the others into the last trailer load. But then we tried to catch her and the lamb. No way! even with 5 of us out there she refused to be cornered or driven or lured. She kept her baby right at her side and together they eluded capture repeatedly. At one point, the baby took a wrong turn and ended up separated. We thought "Great!" now just catch the lamb and the mom will follow.

You see, new lambs, just born, have zero fear of man. in fact the problem is often the baby responding to interaction with humans by identifying with them instead of sheep, causing the mom to reject the lamb!  A new born lamb will walk right up to anyone and snuggle. They are NOT born with fear of humans.   But within a few days, that a week or so they run away.

This little fellow was no exception, he ran feverishly like a world class sprinter and.. in the end.. we gave up. They can stay at the farm for a while. We couldnt risk over stressing the little lamb in trying to catch him further.

So here's the thing... we also have this little lamb named Nephi. He was a bottle lamb, rejected by his mom. Grandma took him in and hand fed him, then the kids took over, so he was raised by humans.  This little guy LOVES people. he will always leave the flock to be with any person within sight. He much prefers humans!

So here is the odd thing. Lambs are born with zero fear.  If you keep them from their moms, they never develop fear and actually prefer humans  But send a week with mom, separate from the herd, and they are deathly afraid of humans.  It must be that mom is teaching the lambs to fear humans. I see no other explanation! How she does that, I have no idea. whether this applies to other species is hard to say, but it is true in sheep.

We know that part of the result of the global flood in noah's day was that animals would "now fear man" at the same point that noah was told he could eat meat for the first time ever. How did God put that fear into animals? Thats what I ponder now. It does not appear to be something genetic, nor inherited. It is something taught by parents. Amazingly it is taught even in the absence of humans during the teaching time.  I find this amazing to ponder.

Some things we just dont know.. many things actually, in the miracle of nature. The complexity and awesomeness is unmatched by anything man could conceive.

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