I’m not sure if you saw but recently Time Magazine had a cover story with the bold headline “America’s Pest Problem”. Dun dun duuuunnnnnnn. Sound the alarms and make sure you have plenty of non-perishables on hand, people. The article went on and on about this surge in animal population sizes where deer and the like are so numerous that they’re turning well-regulated and prim suburbs into veritable zoos. Gardens are being eaten, there’s crap everywhere, occasionally there’s a car accident when a deer wanders into the street at night. And, gosh darn it, something has got to be done about this! People pay good money on those mass manufactured mini-mansions. They don’t want to see a rabbit ruining their lawn. God forbid a raccoon should meander briefly onto their property. Yes, this is apparently such a big problem that it made Time. Really!?
I’d be completely behind joining some think tank and huddle up with scientists to figure out how to solve this vexing conundrum if it weren’t for one little thing. Ummmm…maybe animals aren’t the pests. Maybe, just maybe, we people are. Humans, I’ve noticed, seem to have this amazing talent that when they want something, they just sort of show up, give it a good once over, and if it happens to meet their needs they declare that it’s now theirs. Conquest is just in our genetic code. But let’s think about it a little. We build these suburbs smack in the middle of nature and then are surprised when wild animals make their way into the backyard? Not only that but when we see one of these animals we get angry that they dared to wander through our neighborhoods and are more likely to bash its head in with a shovel than to just let it wander right on out again of its own accord. Let’s not forget, it was their neighborhood first!
Imagine that you’re sitting in your living room watching TV and some guy just walks in and starts strolling around the room. He bounces on a chair, rubs the grain of the coffee table, opens and closes the blinds, then nods in approval, rolls a mat on the ground, and falls asleep. You, obviously shocked, poke him awake and when he opens his eyes to look at you he says irritably, “What are you doing in my place?” You reply, “I’m sorry, sir, this is my place. I live here. I’ve been living here for years. See, my stuff is all over the place.” He just sighs, rolls his eyes, and responds, “Ugh, something just has to be done about this pest problem.”
That wouldn’t be cool, would it? Yet it’s pretty much what’s happened as we press farther and farther into the environment.
We, as a species, can’t just take and take and take and assume that there won’t be repercussions. We killed all the wolves and coyotes so our toddlers can play hide-and-seek in safety. I know, I know, but that was the rationale people used. Anyway, with those animals gone not only will Little Tommy not get mauled but it also shouldn’t be a shock that the number of deer is going to rise. How is that not expected? Take away predators and guess what happens? So now there are a ton of deer and rabbits and chipmunks and pheasants playing loud music, doing drugs till the wee hours, setting off firecrackers, and engaging in gang activity. Oh wait, no, they’re not the ones doing that. But chewing leaves and drinking water from streams is practically the same thing, right? So how do we resolve that? Maybe we begin by understanding that the world is not our buffet but also, and perhaps more importantly, realize that sometimes we have to share.
But that seems a long way off. The article didn’t quite bring up a “Let’s All Get Along” plan. It went more towards the depressingly expected “Let’s Just Kill Them All” plan instead. And with that, hunters around the world rejoice because now there’s an official reason to get out there and shoot something. It’s for the good of the neighborhood, damn it. The government is telling me to kill, honey. That’s right, Mr./Mrs. Hunter, go kill something — it’s very important work you’re doing.