A column in the last Friday’s Clarion Outdoors section snagged my narrow attention span. Written by John Morton, a biologist at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the piece told how people living and recreating on the Kenai Peninsula were negatively affecting wildlife and habitat. Among the impacts mentioned were poaching, noise and air pollution, wildlife-vehicle collisions and bears being killed in defense of life and property.
That column left me feeling a bit disgusted with myself and my fellow humans. Were we really as bad as all that? Wildlife is one of the main reasons we live on the Kenai Peninsula. Wildlife is one reason tourists come here and enrich our lives. We love wildlife.
Then, in one of my frequent flashes of genius, I thought of a way to restore my sense of worth. I would tell the other side of the story, the negative effects humans have to endure because of wildlife.
As previously mentioned, everyone loves wildlife, but it’s one of those love-hate things. Despite our love and good intentions, wild animals sometimes injure and kill humans. Adding insult to injury, they often make us look like fools, criminals or both.
Most of us come to Alaska from somewhere less free, so the first thing we want to do is plant stuff, raise animals and let our dogs run loose. We can’t tolerate wild animals sniffing around, looking for a handout. Trouble is, when we kill some belligerent animal that won’t stay out of our garbage or garden, we run afoul of the law.
In one incident in the Kenai-Soldotna area, a pesky cow moose intruded into a homeowner’s yard and wouldn’t stop bothering his dogs. The man shot the arrogant moose a few times with an air rifle, after which the moose stomped off and thoughtlessly died nearby. How could that man have known that an air rifle would kill a moose? He wound up being fined for harassing wildlife, all because of the outrageous behavior of that moose. What’s worse, the humiliating event recently aired on the “Alaska State Troopers” TV show.
We can’t even have bird feeders without being bothered by everything from squirrels to bears. Not only do we have to pay for bird seed, but for guns and ammo to keep the predators at bay.
When we’re forced to kill some reckless bear or moose in defense of life and property, we have to fill out a lot of paperwork and be interrogated for hours by officers of the law.
When the birds and beasts start thinking they have dominion over man, there’s something wrong. The Bible says God gave man dominion over animals, not the other way around. Doesn’t a garden qualify as “dominion?”
Even fish are getting into the act. To protect fish habitat, our borough has saddled us with a 50-foot setback from most lakes and streams on the peninsula. Salmon have become more important than our right to do whatever we want on our own property. Weren’t fish part of our deal with God?
It’s always something. Now Kenai residents are arguing over the number of chickens they ought to be able to raise. One lame argument against having chickens in town is that birds and bird food attract bears. Maybe so, but our right to raise chickens shouldn’t be trumped by the actions of a few miscreant bears.
We’re not safe anywhere. Impudent bears lurk behind every tree. Reckless moose cross highways without looking at all, let alone both ways. Mischievous ravens, squirrels and porcupines are constantly up to no good.
Irresponsible beasts cause us no end of pain, expense and grief. Though we’re a nation of laws, wildlife could care less about our laws. The furry terrorists do whatever they want, with no restraint whatsoever. We think we have freedom, but it’s the beasts that have freedom, not us.
Friends, this will come to no good. The end is near. Man the barricades!
Les Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.