Pirjo Raits: Time to restore wildlife balance

It appears we have a problem with urban deer, urban rabbits and urban geese.

Well, actually they are rural animals forced into an urban environment. They adjust to their shrinking habitat and we have only ourselves to blame. With our rush to develop vast tracts of rural land, we displace these creatures and then complain that they have become a nuisance. They just keep on in the natural order of things. Their trails are ingrained in their genetic memory and they just keep on going where they’ve always gone. They eat everything, they leave their droppings behind and they do as they please.

Food is whatever they can graze on and the well-tended shrubs, bulbs, plants and bushes in our gardens are ripe for the feasting. You can’t blame the animals, they just cruise along nibbling at whatever tastes good.

Should we have a deer cull? Yes, we should. We should also follow that up with a cull of rabbits and geese. Each of these animals is a traditional food source and, fed right, they are very tasty.

They could feed a lot of people who may not be able to afford good, wholesome meat.

Europeans laugh when they see how sentimental we are. We should be laughing at ourselves for importing meat from other countries when we have our own food source in most of our backyards.

Even in orderly Oak Bay, deer are spotted resting among the foliage, or eating it. In the interior of the province many people gear up each fall for a shot at a moose or a deer.

Hunting is honest and it’s real and people depend on it to feed themselves during the winter months.

Most hunters will go for a clean kill and would never allow an animal to suffer. True, it would be harder here as we have neighbours to think about, but where there is a will, we know there is a way.

This is not being cruel, it is actually doing Mother Nature’s job, as these creatures do not have any natural predators. We took care of that when we decided cougars, coyotes and bears needed to be shot when they became a nuisance. We are the ones disturbing the natural order of things.

With each new arrival of another cute fawn, gosling or bunny we are allowing the weakest of the species to survive. In nature they would be culled by natural selection. If they can’t run fast enough or fly quick enough they become another’s dinner.

Perhaps it’s time we gave serious thought to how we are allowing cute and cuddly to replace common sense. Animals do not have human emotions or reactions. It is humans trying to put our spin on the way they act and react.

If these animals were considered ugly or undesirable like bugs, snakes, rats and creepy crawly things, we probably wouldn’t hesitate to dispatch them. If these “uglier” species were allowed to overrun our environment, we would likely do something about it rather quickly.

It isn’t the animals themselves, but the over-abundance that causes problems. Each creature has its place in the natural order of things and it is humans who have upset that balance.

It has to be humans who try to restore it.

Pirjo Raits is the editor of the Sooke News Mirror.


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