Blogs > Liberty and Power > Killer Geese and Cute Coyotes

Jul 2, 2004 3:32 pm

Killer Geese and Cute Coyotes

One of the unresolved tensions in modern environmentalism is how to both support wildlife unconditionally and deal with the externalities of having nature around. Liberals often can't see the inconsistency of saying they want nature around without thinking about how having nature around is going to create a lot of problems for modern human society. Now I wouldn't be particularly concerned about this if it were just liberals who thought this way, but I'm sorry to say that I fear this"animals at all costs" thinking has infected a lot of completely normal people.

I was reminded by this yesterday as I was driving home from work on a four lane major north/south road in town when cars in front of me began locking their brakes and swerving. I slowed down in time to avoid hitting anyone and discovered an entire flock of Canadian geese were simply crossing the street and stopping traffic. Now I'm not sure I would have plowed through the flock, but it sure was an appropriate reminder of how annoying geese can be. This is a problem that today's Pravda addresses in a story about Geese-ocide in an apartment complex in suburban Maryland. The article is worth a glance to illustrate the cognative dissonance among the residents, most of whom I'm sure aren't rabid Green Peace members, of one apartment complex that was infested with geese. As anyone who knows, geese are messy, loud, aggressive, and as I was reminded yesterday, indifferent to traffic signals. In short they are dangerous, and yet these folks could not bring themselves to admit that the geese had to go.

Strangely on the same day Pravda provides this rather light-hearted view of coyotes in the DC area. Describing large predators that can hunt in groups in areas where small children play in yards as"the long-snouted, furry-tailed creatures" seems to me as excessively naive, but on the other hand it may also reflect this"animals first" thinking again. After all, coyotes are large fauna, and if all the environmental propoganda of the last thirty years has sunk in, than normal people would greet coyotes in their neighborhoods with glee. Look! Nature is back! Hurray! Until a kid gets mauled by a couple of hungry coyotes in someone's yard.

I like nature as much, if not more, than the next person. But it's a matter of place. It seems smart to me to not want coyotes, cougars, deer, or geese causing human deaths. And the best way to accomplish that is to try to limit large fauna outside of rural areas or reserves. Rational management and consistent protection of property rights is a way to preserve that balance, but of course that means hunting, culling, and violating the"rights" of animals in the eyes of the Greenies. I'll be very anxious to see how the folks in suburban DC react when a child is taken by a cougar. Before you think I'm making an extreme example, check out this Outside magazine piece about the growth of the American cougar population in both the Western AND the Eastern U.S. Will the conventional"logic" of animals first stay the same? I hope not.

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Pat Lynch - 7/6/2004

True, but wouldn't you agree that limitations on the right of folks to kill things, like geese in suburban areas, would help ease the problem?

Oscar Chamberlain - 7/4/2004

Sorry to tell you this, but strict enforcement of property rights is no solution. One of the reasons for the expansion of predators is the expansion of prey, for example deer. Deer are often fed over winter by property owners who want to have some good fall hunting.

If you have lots of deer, your gonna get non-human predators along with the folks with guns. But, of course, trying to stop such feeding would restrict property rights.