Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Nature Wars': It Is a Jungle out Ther Jim Sterba Loves Animals -- and Humans, Too. He Makes a Solid Case for Killing Animals That Become Pests or Worse, Even If They Seem 'Lovable.'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Nature Wars': It Is a Jungle out Ther Jim Sterba Loves Animals -- and Humans, Too. He Makes a Solid Case for Killing Animals That Become Pests or Worse, Even If They Seem 'Lovable.'

Article excerpt

"NATURE WARS: THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF HOW WILDLIFE COMEBACKS TURNED BACKYARDS INTO BATTLEGROUNDS"

By Jim Sterba.

Crown ($26).

About 10 years ago, Phyllis Marchand, the mayor of Prince-ton Township in New Jersey, hired a nonprofit company called White Buffalo Inc. to use sharpshooters to cull the deer population, which had grown to 94 per square mile. Protesters staged demonstrations and candlelight vigils. Deer guts were splattered on the roof of Mayor Marchand's car. The township's animal control officer -- after his cat was crushed to death and his dog was poisoned --began wearing a bulletproof vest.

Conflicts like this one, involving geese, turkeys, beavers, black bears and feral cats as well as deer, now occur in hundreds of neighborhoods throughout the United States. Communities remain polarized, according to Jim Sterba, a veteran reporter for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, because many formerly scarce wild animals and birds have used suburban sprawl, which offers them an "almost perfect ecological niche," to become overabundant, constituting a clear and present danger to human beings and other species. Many Americans, who spend 90 percent of their time indoors, embrace pets and wild animals as "sentient creatures" and have been socialized by movies like "Bambi" and "Gentle Ben" to feel repulsion at the idea of harming them. They believe, mistakenly but with the best of intentions, that all God's creatures will survive and thrive if left undisturbed.

In "Nature Wars," Mr. Sterba, a hunter and self-styled conservationist, takes on the "unrealistic and highly reductionist" claims of animal rights and animal protection advocates. He makes a provocative, controversial, but quite compelling case that we should not -- and cannot -- opt out of active management and stewardship of wildlife.

Gardens, lawns, mulch bins, bird feeders and pet food, Mr. Sterba points out, have a substantial impact on local (and global) ecosystems. …

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