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Jewish World Review Feb. 1, 2002 / 19 Shevat, 5762

Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy
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Consumer Reports

Shooting the 'surplus population' -- AS if we Americans didn't have enough problems already, Congress has recently revealed a study it commissioned that focuses not on the threat of terrorism by foreign invaders, but the threat of terrorism from our compatriots in the animal kingdom.

Yes, that's right. The study reveals that seemingly benign critters are causing all kinds of injuries and other assorted dangers. There have been 27,000 injuries caused by rodents alone.

While the study did not say which rodent was causing all of the "danger," my guess is that it's the squirrels. I had a squirrel nest in an old chimney in my house and, while I never had contact with the varmints, the noise alone drove me batty. I am also in severe danger of going insane from the squirrels who use my bird feeders.

There are, of course, other, more serious encounters between humans and wildlife. Deer-car collisions count for almost $1 billion in damage every year, and there were 6,000 collisions between birds and airplanes in 2000 alone.

It makes me laugh, though, to think of the ways we humans think we can correct the "wildlife problem." Every time I hear about the "overpopulation" of a species - be it squirrels, geese, deer or cormorants - the next words I hear are "hunting season."

And here's the thing - they were here first. That's what it boils down to. They were here first. Who are we to come in and "control their numbers?" Who are we to decide how many is too many? The world population of people is up to 6 billion. That's a lot of people competing for resources. A lot of people competing for gas for their SUVs and food for their children.

Not once have I heard someone request a public meeting so that we can decide which people should be shot.

"Well, we have to thin the herds. Rid the populations of disease and prevent starvation," the hunters say. "Keep the population healthy." OK, then, let's follow that logic, shall we? Now, all of you people with diseases or who visit the local food pantries, line up - we have to keep the population down.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not against hunting. I believe that anyone who wants to should be able to go and get their meat from the wilderness if they so desire. I applaud those who donate their take to the food pantries.

But don't tell me you're doing it for the deer.

And don't tell me you want them dead because they're eating your nasturtiums. If a person depends on the produce from their garden for their existence, then they should have every right to scare the living daylights out of the deer or the birds or whatever it is that is eating your beans. After all, that's what scarecrows were created for.

Don't cry to me because you like your country-setting house and you like to view the deer from your porch but if they eat your imported Japanese hollyhock one more time you are going to order their execution.

As humans, we are arrogant. Arrogant to believe that we can move to the peace of the country and not be bothered by what lives there. Had that problem with those pesky Native Americans once, if I remember correctly.

JWR contributor Michelle Kennedy, who reads and responds to all of her mail, is a reporter and columnist for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. Comment by clicking here.


12/20/01: Zen and the Art of Clutter
12/14/01: Confessions of a serial library fine payer
12/06/01: Too good at my job, I quit

© 2001, Michelle Kennedy