Wednesday, July 4, 2012

American Pie


In many areas of the north-eastern United States and Pennsylvania in particular, white-tailed deer and black bears are everywhere – and I do mean everywhere.  These two woodland residents can be found stopping traffic in populated areas and picking through the neighborhood’s garbage (and gardens).  Of course people complain but those that bitch the loudest are not willing to support large efforts to cull the deer and bear population.  The cleanest, simplest, and most humane way of accomplishing this is to implement massive professional hunts.  But that method is rabidly opposed because it involves the use of firearms.   The deer and bear are rapidly multiplying; they have been for years.  It’s not the fault of the animals – it’s what all species do.  The fault lies with us. 

As the natural predators of any species have been eliminated, those species will rapidly proliferate.  Man replaced the above mentioned species natural predators with himself.  And as a predator, man took what he needed to live and left the rest alone.  But man no longer wanders the woods, fields, and mountains for substance.  Now we do that in the supermarket.  As man became more civilized and industrialized, species like the white-tailed deer and black bear were largely left alone to multiply; man removed himself as their natural predator.  There is at least one more reason for the proliferation of wild animals. 

Mankind took away the natural habitat of these wildlife species.  We call it the suburbs.  As our population grew, we became a more suburban than urban species.  For that to have happened, vast acres of forest, field, and woodland were raped of their natural beauty and that reduced the natural home and range of those wild creatures; for the sake of planting and raising up stick houses.  We call them “sub-divisions,” but sub-divisions of what?  The forest?  Many of these sub-divisions have grown so large that they have become self-governing entities, like townships.  And this practice, even in our poor economy (July 2012), continues.  And, many former family farms, generations old, were sucked up by developers and now host a plethora of stick houses.   It does not matter if that generational family farm fell victim to the agri-business monolith, lack of funds to pay the mortgage loans, lack of interest by the modern generation, or unscrupulous land developers.  Sadly, that happened.  What matters now is that those family farms, fields, woodlands, and mountains are covered with houses and strip malls.  Let me tell you something:  my wife and I live in “suburbia.”  But when we see a skunk, raccoon, or coyote rummaging through the neighborhood garbage, my wife and I know why.  The damage done in dollars by these wild ones looking for some food in what once was their ancestral homeland is staggering.  And, something the insurance companies would like to go away.  But what the hell, it’s progress, right? 

Everywhere, just like the deer and black bear, coyotes are flourishing.  These critters are smart and the moniker, “Wily Coyote,” is very appropriate.  Coyotes quickly adapt to almost any environmental situation.  They do prefer meat, like rabbit, but will eat anything; road-kill and your garbage to survive.  So the next time you see one of those “cute little puppies” dragging around the neighborhood garbage, riding a subway train, or using a major home improvement chain (you know the ones – you need a GPS to find what you want) as its home, you will know the answer. 

Wild Hogs is not just the title of a funny movie.  Wild Hogs are running rampant in at least 38 states but no state bores more of the hog mania brunt than Texas.  Within the state of Texas, hundreds of thousands of feral pork has caused billions of dollars of damage – and these beasties rapidly multiply; think “having a litter of piglets” versus a single birth of a white tailed deer. 
You could say that the hog population in Texas is way past epidemic.  The current governor, Rick Perry, has recently passed a law that permits hunting this pork to go from a helicopter (no joke).  So OK, what are we to do? 

There are many different drum beats about different environmental concerns; do not drill here, do not put that pipeline there and you can’t put those windmills here because it spoils the view.  And by the way, we must damn up this river (eliminating a city’s water supply) because there are only a few of a certain kind of endangered fish in said river.  Oh, and lest we forget, we need to cut down on bovine flatulence:  its messing up the atmosphere.  But when a person discusses the need to curb the population of wild animals, that person can stand alone.  Those bovine flatulence folks, and others, do not want you shooting Bambi or Porky – that is just plain ignorance.  Those same folks talk about controlling human population growth (there are some valid points) but its hands off of Rudolf.  We really need to get serious about this and put aside the silliness. 

Wild game, venison, is terrific to eat.  Oh please, stop the self-invoked stomach churning!  As early as three or four generations ago, this was the main meat/protein source that your family eagerly consumed (and, there are many restaurants that now feature wild game on their menus).  The United States has too many hungry people and a financially burdened prison system.  Wild game can help alleviate these sad situations.  In my opinion, only regular, regulated hunts, to harvest these creatures, will bring about the necessary environmental balance.  If a district has a problem with firearms, many bow hunters will rise to the occasion.  Remember, we created it, now we must take care of it; mankind is the root cause.  It’s high time to be realistic about what we must do.  In other words, it’s time to grow up.  If you truly want to be an environmental activist, then embrace it all (I am not referring to whale or seal hunts in this post).  Currently, we have environmental concerns with impotent solutions.  If we as a species are serious about our environment, we cannot be impotent any longer. 

                                               Copyright @2012 Terry Unger    

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