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Solving the animal problem

I found myself glued to the Animal Channel the other night. I don't normally watch it, but while channel surfing, I noticed a story concerning man's terrible effects on animals. The narrator was all doom and gloom for the little spotted frog and twisted twit mouse. It seems that man's expansionism is killing these poor defenseless creatures. Let me tell you about these defenseless creatures.

I'm a runner. And, after more than 25 years of running in places ranging from the flat-lands of Kansas to the heights of Pikes Peak and as far as the shores of Lake Geneva and beaches of Singapore, I've experienced more than a few of these critters.

Early in my running career, I was surprised by snakes slithering across the pathway. While I've never been bitten by one, their startling appearance on a path can certainly test one's maximum heart rate.

Then there was a late-evening run through the woods, when a buck decided I was intruding into his territory. Not smart enough to realize the possibility for real bodily damage, I just kept running. It was only after he lunged towards me as I passed that I realized it was time to quickly exit the area. Fortunately, he was more interested in sex with his nearby heard of female deer than turning me into mulch with his antlers.

I've also encountered more than my share of dogs. I've been bitten by little dogs and big dogs, skinny dogs and fat dogs. They typically bite just as their owners say, “Don't worry; he doesn't bite.”

But it remains the little critters that can get you.

There was the time I encountered a group of squirrels along one of my running paths through a forest. Being familiar with people, they weren't easily startled — that is, until I got close. As the group scattered, one of the little buggers mistook me for a tree and scooted up my running sweats, jumping off my back to a nearby branch. To say I was startled is a huge understatement.

However, birds remain the largest danger to mankind. While runners are sometimes attacked by birds, these creatures are even more dangerous to those of us who fly.

Worldwide, birds cause €1 billion in damage every year to aircraft. Pilots reported 34,000 incidents of bird damage to U.S. aircraft last year. Those accidents involved birds ranging from as large as a 15-pound Canadian goose to the tiny 3-ounce Starling, which pilots call “feathered bullets.”

Bears are also an increasing problem as urban populations expand into former wildlife areas. While animal lovers demand they not be killed but simply relocated, that's harder than it looks. Said one scientist looking at the problem, “Not only is a bear large and heavy, it is also double-jointed and thus quite floppy.”

Finally, how about those darlings of the forest, deer. These doe-eyed creatures are responsible for more than 29,000 human injuries and 200 human fatalities every year. Damages from Bambi total more than E1 billion every year.

So how do we regain control of our space from these creatures? We bring in the ultimate weapon — television. We simply locate TV sets throughout the forest. The animals will be curious and begin watching what we watch — sitcoms, “sexed-up” newscasts, mindless newsreaders and boring politicians. Within a short period, the animals will become fat, lethargic and so zombie-like that they'll never accost us humans again.

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