Sunday, February 5, 2012

Who is the real pest?

Sometimes, there are things that make me angry - and usually it has to do with thoughtless human beings who don't think much and simply repeat the views of the general public, i.e. what they have heard in some TV show, what their family says and what they have heard from their friends.

One statement I have heard one time too often is the statement about some animals being a "pest". It doesn't matter which animals people refer to. Be it rats, mice, possums or pigeons. I usually challenge people when they talk about "pests". One of the first times was when I still lived back in Germany. I used to live in Heidelberg and many pigeons live in the city centre. I always enjoyed watching them when I was waiting for the  bus or tram. They were beautiful and they had a certain grace. I never got bored of them.
One day, an older man was standing next to me and apparently he was a bit bored. He started a conversation with me with the words: "Don't those stupid pigeons produce a lot of shit? Aren't they dirty animals?" I usually try to be nice to strangers, but what he got from me was something along the lines of this: "Don't you think that humans produce a lot more shit and do more damage to the planet in one day than a pigeon does in its whole life?"  And isn't it true? You only need to spend some time outside, watch people, really observe them and you will see how much dirt some of them leave everywhere, esp. smokers who throw their cigarette butts everywhere. So that man called a pigeon a pest? How much of a pest would he be then if you compared the damage he's done to the planet over his life-time?

Different people will have a different idea about which animals is a pest. For some it's rats, for others possums. Two people who called seagulls a pest have made it on the list of people I'll never take seriously. If you think about certain animals as pest, ask yourself these questions:

- If the animals are a problem for humans or the environment, how have they turned into such a problem? What are the reasons? Could it be that it is the fault of humans that those animals are a problem? Just think about who imported possums to New Zealand. Those animals didn't come here on their own. It was the greed of humans who turned possums into the problem they are now.

- Why do you have such a negative opinion about those animals? Is it because other people talked about them negatively? Is it because they scare you? Is your opinion of those animals fair? Have you ever really looked one of them in the eyes?

I know that it might be hard for some people to see the good in certain animals. I also have to admit that I'll never be friends with spiders - but I still would not call them a pest. I also don't like mosquitoes very much, but they are part of nature and I just have to live with being bitten every now and then.

I have a deep respect for life and to be honest, I care about animals (other than humans) very much - probably more than about humans because animals need protection and people who care about them. After all, it's people who cause them trouble, who kill them, who capture them, who torture them. I think, people are a bigger pest than any animal could be.

Each type of animal has its own kind of wisdom and we can learn so much from them (see my other post "What we can learn from birds" for examples that are related to birds only). We should love them, respect them and find a different way to solve "pest" problems. Is it really the right way to just kill off everything just because people think it's a pest? Are we really not intelligent enough to find a better solution than killing? Is this how far we have come in thousands of years of "civilization"?
What do you think?

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