By now, many of you have seen the outrageous Time magazine article egotistically entitled, “America’s Pest Problem: It’s Time to Cull the Herd.” If so, you probably shared my first reaction, which was:
How haughty to label the recovering animal species from whom we stole this land “pests” whenever they cross paths with the real pests, the most overpopulated and rapidly expanding, exploitive, environmentally reckless, imperialistic, pretentious, self-centered, self-important, self-aggrandizing, stuck-up, conceited, condescending –in a word, arrogant—urchins ever to emerge from the primordial ooze, namely humans.
As ethologist Marc Bekoff wrote in a recent blog post,
“There are so many things that are profoundly disturbing in [the Time magazine] essay I’m not sure where to begin or just which points to highlight. Some of the messages I received had quotes from this essay that at once shocked and saddened me. Kill, kill, and kill some more; that’s the only solution for righting the wrongs for which we — yes, we — are responsible. We move into the homes of other animals and redecorate them because we like to see them or because it’s “cool” to do so, or we alter their homes to the extent that they need to find new places in which to live and try to feel safe and at peace. And then, when we decide they’ve become ‘pests’, we kill them. Yes, technically we cull them, but of course the word ‘culling’ is a way to make the word ‘killing’ more palatable. To many people this sanitizing mechanism — using culling instead of killing — is readily transparent. But, a subtitle like ‘It’s Time to Kill the Herd’, would likely offend many people who find it difficult to grasp that that’s what we do – we kill other animals with little hesitation absent any data that this really works.
“We treat them as if they’re the problem when, in fact, whatever ‘problems’ they pose can most frequently, some might say invariably, be traced back to something we did to make them become ‘problems’.”
Well, I’m one of those who would definitely say “invariably.” On the other hand, I’m not real comfortable with the “we” part. Personally, I don’t consider the wildlife to be “pests,” I don’t fear them and I do not kill them. Ultimately, I don’t consider myself superior to the other animals.
Bekoff also writes, “Until we confront the indisputable fact that there are too many of us, we and other animals are doomed.” Talk about uncomfortable… Actually, my wife and I faced that fact decades ago and consciously chose not to add any more children to the burgeoning human horde.
The problem where we live is that, though we’re surrounded by prime habitat which we’ve left wild for the wildlife, we rarely see the deer, elk and bears who’ve had to adapt to locally rampant hunting and poaching pressure by only coming out of the heavy forest at night. The last thing the animals around here need is for Time Magazine to come along and promote more hunting!