|Nutria hunting in Louisiana. What do you call it when an "invasive species" is hunted by the ultimate invasive species - humankind?|
Here's a factoid I bet you didn't know: The United States government kills millions of animals per year.
In 2013, the federal government "shot, poisoned, snared, or trapped" some 4 million animals. Animals on the government's "hit list" include bobcats, coyotes, river otters, foxes, black bears, as well as (according to The Washington Post) "greedy feral hogs, giant swamp rats called nutria, big aggressive Argentine lizards called tegus and swarms of hungry starlings...."
Most of the killings are carried out by the United States Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services. According to a recently released statistics, the killings in 2013 included:
• 75,326 coyotes
• 866 bobcats
• 528 river otters
• 3,700 foxes
• 12,186 prairie dogs
• 978 red-tailed hawks
• 419 black bears
• three eagles (that we know of), both the golden and bald variety
As noted above, all of these are said to be "invasive species." But what is the real "invasive species"?
Let's review the evidence:
• What animal has destroyed the earth's rainforest at an alarming rate, with no end in sight?
• What animal has drained the earth of its oil, mined every potential deposit of every resource imaginable, polluted until holes formed int the ozone, and wiped out entire ecosystems in the name of progress?
• What animal is responsible for more mass extinctions than any other animal on earth?
• What is the only animal in this world that intentionally inflicts sadism and mass murder on other animals, including its own species?
• What animal has spilled oil on nearly every stretch of beach from Alaska to South America, throughout the Gulf of Mexico, up and down the Atlantic Coast, and in nearly every other part of the world?
• What animal...
Oh hell, you get the picture! I realize these rhetorical questions get tiresome, and I'm sorry to inundate you with them. However, the purpose here is to raise an important point about which species is truly the "invasive" one. I think we all know the answer.
Unfortunately, there are some cases when the mass extermination of certain wild animals is done to offset terrible damage. For example, it is widely known that nutria can - and, indeed, have - severely damage wetlands across North America. To allow them to continue to multiply and spread unchecked means the continued destruction of these delicate ecosystems.
Still, there is "context" - there is a "big picture" - behind this wanton destruction of animal life by the U.S. government. Human beings, with their malevolent collective notions of progress, development, globalization, commodification, unfettered markets, and growth for the sake of growth (which the late, great Christopher Hitchens called "the ideology of cancer") are inflicting far greater destruction on the earth than any invasive species.
These same destructive tendencies are what lead us as a species to collectively believe that animals are things - commodities, products, items to be bought and sold - things with a price tag on their heads, sometimes literally. Factory farming is far more destructive to the environment than all the nutria in the world combined.
If we do not stop to reexamine the core values that got us to the global environmental crisis where we are now - greed, violence, denial, an absence of empathy - then we will continue to witness this insane paradox of human beings destroying "invasive species," even as the ultimate invasive species continues to carry out the slow (alas, sometimes not so slow) murder of Earth.