Magazine article Insight on the News

As Geese Increase ... A-Hunting We Must Go

Magazine article Insight on the News

As Geese Increase ... A-Hunting We Must Go

Article excerpt

Forget for the moment the fuss over reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park or the feds pondering a similar restoration of "biodiversity" into the Adirondacks and other Northeastern areas. Those essentially are abstract matters for policy wonks.

A more immediate issue for the densely huddled masses is beast and bird as urban pests -- primarily deer, but also Canada geese that have come to realize that migration is a drag.

What makes this a fractious debate is that it partakes of two "higher" values - the environment and animal rights. At base it represents the antihunting passion as contemporary cause -- primarily for those who've never hunted anything outside a shopping mall and are offended by the very idea.

As more and more Americans evolve into implacable urbanites, those who hunt and fish increasingly seem alien. (Because the evolution to wall-to-wall urbanism isn't complete, politicians still nod to hardier tradition -- recall President Clinton toting a 12-gauge, wearing camis and displaying a dead duck.)

Protection and preservation of the outdoors -- with humankind's banished from the wilderness so far as is politically feasible -- has been embraced as a theological concept by the dominant media. From thence it has propagated in public sentiment. In California, for instance, voters rejected a ballot question that would have instituted a very limited hunting season for mountain lions, despite a resurgence of the species and even a number of recent attacks on joggers and hikers (in at least one attack the victim, a young woman, died).

As a result of the attitude that nature essentially is a Disney film writ large, we now confront the interesting phenomenon of wildlife as nuisance and worse -- this false deification has distorted the conservationist role of hunting into a threat to Bambi and an index of perversity.

When urban as well as rural drivers begin colliding routinely with deer, sometimes coming out second best; when homeowners find their ornamental plantings reduced to sticks; when suburban park visitors, condo owners and golfers slip and slide in goose doo, then the juxtaposition gets attention.

A number of municipalities have considered resolving the matter of too many deer and geese by old-fashioned means -- which is to say, lethally. When that is contemplated, however, the bird-and-bunny legion switches to red alert.

Often as not, public officials nimbly retreat. And deer and auto continue to come in contact, and "resident" geese continue to proliferate messily. …

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