Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Population pressures

Nancy over at Life in the Second Half has ignited a firestorm with a post about a neighbor who is shooting at squirrels in her condo area. She put the post up earlier today and I just added the 41st comment. Most people think it's unconscionable for people to shoot wild animals. But there are a few who feel it's important to keep them in check. And some who get off on it.

These two beautiful fawns and Mama Doe are seen by some people as fair game, nuisances to be driven away, or shot. Squirrels and deer, along with birds, proliferate around here, and I got to thinking about how I would feel if somebody came along with a gun and shot my wildlife. Pretty angry, I would say.

The balance of nature is a tough one. We humans are actually the ones who have gotten things so terribly out of whack, because we are changing everything through worldwide overpopulation. We are crowding out other species right and left, and there doesn't seem to be any fix for it, since we will continue to grow in numbers, as shown in the following graph:
I could go on and on, but what is bothering me right now is my beautiful wild friends, who are losing their habitat everywhere in the world. The deer above live in the field on the south side of my apartment complex. It used to be a chicken farm, I understand, and when it was torn down the land became overgrown with (mostly) blackberry bushes, fireweed, and other low shrubs. It has become a haven for all kinds of wildlife. Of course, I think the fireweed is beautiful, and the blackberries are delicious. But I've learned that here in Washington state, the blackberry bramble is considered invasive. Here's a quote from Wikipedia:
In some parts of the world, such as in Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and the Pacific Northwest region of North America, some blackberry species, particularly Rubus armeniacus (syn. R. procerus, 'Himalaya') and Rubus laciniatus ('Evergreen') are naturalised and considered an invasive species and a serious weed.
This means that one person's delicious blackberries and cute squirrels are another person's scourge. As the world grows more and more overpopulated, these issues will become even more important to us. Now I'm not likely to be around when we get to 2050 (since I would be 108 by then), I might actually still be around by 2030 when that chart above projects more than 2.5 billion more people will be sharing our planet.

By then, I'll look back at my blog and show you what the world looked like, back when I was in my sixties. Wasn't it beautiful?
(click any picture to enlarge)


  1. Anyone who reads either of my blogs has seen the photos of a variety of wildlife so my feelings on shooting at squirrels or any other animal just because it's in your yard is probably pretty obvious.

    One thing I have observed through the years is that Mother Nature has her own ways of keeping populations in check.

    Take for example a favorite campground of mine. One year the population of squirrels was about right for the area but visitors liked to feed them. The squirrels got so used to being feed by humans they would take food out of human hands. Overfeeding caused the squirrel population to increase and by the next summer there were squirrels everywhere in the campground. You could not walk down any path without seeing a half dozen or more.

    The following summer when we returned to the campground the squirrels were almost gone. It was rare to see one and when we did it was not the usual healthy animal we expected to see. We talked to the local ranger who told us a disease had almost wiped out the population. Mother Nature's way of keeping the ratio of animals to resources in check.

    Flu viruses are becoming more and more resistant to our drugs. New viruses are being discovered. This is just an observation.

  2. DJ, overpopulation and poverty is a serious problem. Even the most remote area in the forest are being occupied now by informal settlers, they harm natural resources, by cutting trees, messing the coasts with their rubbish and what is worse is they make animals especially the endangered animals as their source of food. Turtles and their eggs are now being watched by DENR(Department of Energy and Natural Resources) because if they won't, they would all be gone, and would be an inch away from extinction. Boars were slaughtered even whale sharks. Right now, the government has established campaigns and educate these people how important these wild animals are to our environment. And I hope more people would be aware on how to protect our Mother Nature.


  3. Well, I was going to write about cooking the squirrel my husband shot the other day but perhaps not! There comes a point when wild animals around a house become a nuisance and something has to be done; it is too bad, but there it is. I have trapped and removed 26 squirrels to new homes in the past few months and he has shot 5 or 6. Re your comment on my blog: I fractured my pelvis last June when I slipped on dew-covered painted concrete at a garage sale (I wrote about in the June 2008 posts and periodically after that). I find my job as a copy editor sometimes makes it difficult to write because I keep wanting to tinker.

  4. I've never had a problem with people shooting wildlife if they a) have a permit and b) plan in eating the kill or c) it's a culling program by USFW because of the overpopulation you speak of.

    Yet, I also get very angry with friends who boast about wanting four or five children. Yes, I have a child and want another. But that's replacing my husband and myself and within our family alone we'd have negative population growth condisdering my sister and my husband's brother only have and want one child.

    It's a messy situation. I fear only economics will fix the problem. People will only start having fewer kids when it's completely unaffordable not to. And sadly, famine and disease will take care of the rest. Which if you saw the front page of the NY Times yesterday is occurring more and more frequently. -kate

  5. My husband and I go round and round about hunting. He doesn't understand how anyone can shoot Bambi. I'm of a different opinion, perhaps because I grew up around hunting. However, most everyone I know who hunts actually uses the meat. They don't hunt just for sport. I don't see any problem with that.
    I agree that a great deal of the problem is that we have taken over the natural habitat of these animals. Understanding that doesn't make it any less frustrating when I go outside to find my plants have been eaten (yet again) by the deer. I agree that nature usually manages to balance it all out, but it does seem that there are about three times as many deer in my neighborhood this year...
    I'm not sure what the answer is. Perhaps we are not far from there being some sort of limit on the number of children allowed per family. I have to agree with Kate when she says that people will continue to have children until it's unaffordable not to. However, in the US, Welfare and Medicare pretty much guarantee that isn't an issue.

  6. Personally I could never kill any kind of wildlife. As much as I hate it, I think it is necessary to eliminate overpopulation of some animals. It is more humane than having them starve to death from lack of food.

    It is too bad that we have taken over their habitats and forced them to take refuge in areas of human population. I wonder if we will ever learn from our mistakes.

  7. I don't even have to tell you how I feel...you already know!

  8. I'm also bothered by urban sprawl crowding out habitat for our animal friends. My husband complains about invasive species sometimes. Like sparrows and carp. I just say we were invasive when we first landed on these pristine shores!

  9. I don't believe in hunting them and killing them. I agree that usually a disease or starvation kills an overpopulating animal group. But then you have to wonder if starvation is a good alternative and even less humane? It is a dilemma.


I really appreciate your comments! If you see a word verification box here, just ignore it. I don't use the darn thing and Blogger is trying to get us to use it, I guess. Ignore it and your comment will still appear.