I know I’ve been a bit quieter than usual here lately. No excuses really, just life getting in the way. But I figure you’ve had enough downtime from my tirades, so I’m determined to get back into the game on a more regular basis. Lucky you. Today felt like kind of a rant-y day, so again, lucky you!
Being a huge animal lover, there’s always been something that I just don’t understand. How is it that we can continue to encroach on wildlife and then wonder why they end up in our space? As humans continue to cut down tree after tree, painstakingly eliminating the vital forests of our planet, people somehow act surprised when a bear, deer, or alligator stumbles into your backyard. If we keep destroying their homelands, then we’re going to have to come to terms with having animal neighbors. And not in the “we’ll just kill them all” way that we’re doing now.
Well, I’ll admit, I don’t really want a bear sniffing around my house, but I’m also aware that not pissing it off and simply chasing it away with a few loud noises will do the trick just fine. Aside from those adorable little trash pandas, which most people call raccoons, animals don’t typically want to go through your trash. And honestly, raccoons would probably not have to dumpster dive either. They, like all animals, would rather survive on the natural bounty provided by their native habitats. Those same exact habitats that are being wiped out by, you guessed it, us humans. We create the problem and then complain about the problem we created. Oh, but those darn little critters, right? Deer tearing up the flower bed, opossums in the trash, squirrels stealing stuff from the garden… to hell with these pesky pests, right? Let’s all just ignore the reason these animals are forced into an urban lifestyle in the first place.
Here’s an idea. Maybe the space we are trying to evict them from was never our space to begin with. To them, we’re the pests. Consider the Merriam-Webster definitions of the word pest.
- A plague.
- Something resembling a pest in destructiveness.
- Someone or something who annoys, aka a nuisance.
Humans appear to fit the mold quite nicely. Considering the pollution and war we brought to this planet, and our constant failure at caring for it, we are arguably the most destructive plague in history.
Destructiveness? That little chipmunk dug a hole in your flowerbed because some lumber company just cleared out 20 acres of its habitat for that new development down the way. Shame on that rodent right? What was more destructive, the golf ball-sized hole under your chrysanthemums or wiping out an entire forest? Perfect lawns. Perfect gardens. Perfect perfect perfect. Animals apparently have no place in this façade of perfection.
A nuisance or something that annoys. The third definition of the word pest is pretty much exclusive to humans, gnats, houseflies, and mosquitoes. If you asked me to name 5 things that I find utterly annoying (aside from gnats, houseflies, and mosquitoes), I’m almost positive they would all be human-related. Let’s try.
- Being cut off while driving.
- Being placed on hold for longer than 5 minutes.
- Cold pizza and warm wine.
- Most movie remakes.
- People doing TikToks in the grocery store in front of the frosted shredded mini-wheats I have a coupon for.
Before you even argue with me, I get it, I do. You don’t want potentially life-threatening animals near your home, especially if you have children around. But if you live out in the country, this is just a part of life and you need to learn how to cope with it. Preferably without killing the animals who don’t realize that your home is now smack dab in the middle of what used to be their exclusive space.
If you’re closer to town and you’re dealing with pesky little critters like groundhogs and snakes, there are things you can do to safely deter them from certain areas of your property while still allowing them to, you know, live. If you’re a victim of chipmunk abuse, just pull up Google and look for natural and safe deterrents from these highly hostile, albeit teeny-tiny, monsters. That was sarcasm, of course, chipmunks are cute and harmless, but here, I’ll even do you one solid and give you a link to get started. Or, hey, here’s a novel idea, you could do what you’re always expecting everyone else around you to do… share.
Instead of worrying about the perfect lawn or the perfectly organized flower bed filled with ornamental flora, why not sow wildflowers and plants that attract and feed the wildlife you share this space with? Why not make your garden an oasis for all manner of creatures who, frankly, deserve to be here as much as you do? Instead of finding ways to oust them, find ways to grow your empathy and coexist with the animals.
We have destroyed the majority of the natural habitats that used to grace this planet right along with most of the animals who called those habitats home. It’s now up to us to maintain what is left and to ensure that the wildlife can stay wild and healthy. It’s a ridiculously easy thing to do once you get past the whole “mine mine mine” mindset.