What’s more, many of us who have migrated to the country or leafy burbs are tenderfoots: We like the scenery but we don’t hunt or farm or even get out in nature all that much. We drive back and forth to work and the store a lot. According to the author, “Americans now spend 90 percent of their time indoors, and they pay more heed to the nature conveniently packaged on their electronic screens than to the nature around them.”
But nature has a way of paying attention to us. Resurgent beavers can flood our roads, deer can total our Volvos, coyotes can feast on Fluffy, wild turkeys can damage crops, and Canada geese can bring down airplanes. What Sterba aptly describes as a “moment of clarity” in the contentious debate over how to manage proliferating geese arrived in 2009 when US Airways Flight 1549 sucked a flock into both engines and crash-landed in the Hudson River. Everyone survived (although not the $60 million plane); others have not been as lucky in recent years.
Sterba brings the perspective of a Midwestern country boy to the debate over what to do about our overabundance of wildlife – at least certain species in certain places in our Eastern woodlands, where he now lives. The author grew up on a Michigan farm, where he hunted and fished, at a time when pets were pets rather than pampered members of the family. Nature to him was real, not a sentimental Disney film, and he clearly thinks many of us don’t have sufficient real-world knowledge to back up our often strident opinions about environmental stewardship.
“Species partisanship” can be every bit as contentious and irrational as the Beltway variety. Take feline fanatics: Try convincing them that feral cats and their free-range domestic cousins are anything but upstanding darlings worry of protection. The Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy make a pretty good case that these interlopers gone wild (as many as 100 million strong) are an invasive species that kills 500 million or more birds in the United States every year.