With the "vermin" thread still running, I thought it would be fun to mention some of my favorite animals that often get a bad rap.
THE COYOTE: Not much of a threat to us, or as is commonly believed, livestock, the coyote is one of the most cunning creatures, especially for its size. The shrinking of its natural habitat and depredation by nervous ranchers has done nothing to shrink coyote population, except in the areas they originally populated. This clever and adaptable canine is now found throughout the continental U.S., with good inroads into Mexico (if it wasn't there already) and Canada. Coyotes are capable of pushing out their smaller relatives, the fox, and filling the void left behind when their larger but less resourceful cousins, wolves, are eliminated from a region.
THE CROW: Crows are gregarious and friendly, and are arguably the most intelligent of the corvids (this honor is often handed to ravens, but ravens, being less sociable, do not have as sophisticated a communication system.) Like many blackbirds, crows can learn to imitate human speech and a variety of other sounds (one crow I know not only speaks, it also mumbles to itself and then laughs maniacally. I think it was donated to the zoo by an evil genius.) They also catch on quick... many crows have no fear of humans but run at the sight of a gun. Blackbirds as a whole are stereotyped as scavengers and thieves, but crows are very friendly, and, if they're feeling chummy, may try to perch on your shoulder or head. Many unfortunate tame or suburban crows have been shot when their approach to a new person was misinterpreted as an attack.
THE SHARK: I went to an IMAX theater one time when they were showing a triple feature on undersea life. One was about coral reefs, one was about dolphins, one was about sharks. The dolphin movie showed a scene of a group of dolphins herding a vast school of fish sunward, where they could be trapped and enclosed from all sides for convenient dining. It played light-hearted tropical music during this scene and commented on the intelligence of the strategy and the dolphins' playfulness, and how the dolphins took turns swimming through the compacted ball of fish while the others herded because caring means sharing. The shark movie showed an almost identical scene, with the sharks displaying identical behavior. It played ominous "Jaws" type music and commented on the sharks' ruthless efficiency and how certainly the fish were doomed. This was allegedly one of those "poor misunderstood sharks" movies, too. I wonder, if a shark leaped out of the water and caught a squeaky ball in its mouth, would the film maker have noted how savagely the shark attacked the ball? A dolphin finding buried prey using echolocation is fascinating and impressive, a shark doing the same thing using electrolocation is chilling and cold-blooded. Not that I'm trying to diminish dolphins here, but let's give credit where credit is due.