Cooking eels, a coyote attack and gun control

JOHN HARRIGAN February 25. 2012 11:48PM

Eels, a possibly rabid coyote and gun laws make this Sunday's agenda.

-- Last week, tongue in cheek, I mentioned eels and whether they're good to eat.

Loyal Avery of Londonderry wrote that eels are a multi-billion dollar industry in the Asian food market. However, they are imperiled by dams, overfishing, pollution and climate change. They taste good after being cooked with corn meal, he said, a disconcerting process because the sections often twitch in the pan.

Longtime Fish and Game friend Eric Orff is well-versed on eels. He remembers heading out to fish for some in the dead of night with a lifelong friend just home from Vietnam. They arrived at the Bellamy Reservoir in Madbury to find thousands of young eels climbing the 25-foot dam.

American eels are born in the Sargasso Sea (a region in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean) and migrate up rivers to spend up to 40 years as adults before returning to the sea to mate. Eric thought it was quite something that, as a boy, I caught an eel on Beaver Brook, a tributary nearly 400 miles up the heavily dammed Connecticut River.

Most people know by now about the possibly rabid coyote that attacked a Hopkinton teenager walking his dog near the Contoocook River. Three observations:

-- Jed Aubertin, 15, showed great common-sense courage by (a) shooing his dog home for its safety and (b) punching the coyote's nose to keep it from his throat.

-- Several people expressed surprise that 'coyotes are around here.' Huh? Coyotes can be found in every town, city and county in New Hampshire, a fact widely publicized, for years, in the media.

-- How come people can pronounce 'Contoocook' correctly but often mangle 'Coos' as 'Cooze'? (It's 'Co-oss,' like in 'cooperate.')

A Farmington man was arrested for firing his handgun to hold a burglar until police arrived. The charge of endangering the public, which in part was due to a less-than-clear picture of the situation, was dropped.

The incident gained national publicity, and the question inevitably arose as to whether the man had a gun permit.

In New Hampshire, no 'permit' to own a firearm is required. Neither is one needed to carry a concealed firearm, nor is one needed to carry a loaded firearm. A license is required, however, to carry a combination of the two - a loaded and concealed firearm. The media hardly ever get this right.

Final note on the above:

Guns involved in crime get huge media attention. Guns used to prevent crime are seldom mentioned.

Whenever anyone tries to draw me into the gun-control controversy, I ask this: Given the nation's estimated 200 million guns, how are we going to keep them out of the hands of scofflaw criminals who could then prey on a law-abiding, disarmed citizenry? This is only one question in a complex matter, but until someone with a grip on reality provides an answer, that's it for me.

John Harrigan's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. His address is Box 39, Colebrook 03576. Email him at

John Harrigan

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