24 April 2008

Santa Monica, a city with a heart

Just a few minutes ago, a colleague here at work brought me a collection of six photos that have become available through the Getty Images news service: they are beautiful portraits of squirrels. Some are clinging to trees, looking stately and squirrelly; others are just hanging out and have had their faces captured in glorious close-up. The photos show these animals with soft, intelligent eyes and inquisitve expressions on their faces, and are meant to accompany an announcement by the City of Santa Monica in California, that officials there have found a humane solution to the overpopulation of squirrels in Palisades Park.

The county wanted to solve the problem by trapping and euthanizing the animals (just imagine what this kind of governmental thinking might opt to do in an overpopulated Third World country!) but the city came up with an alternative - contraptive vaccines.

Well, squirrels have no ethical or religious doctrines against such interventions. And yes, they can be promiscuous from time to time.

Of course squirrels also have no health insurance coverage that might underwrite the cost of birth control. But the city, bless its collective heart, is picking up the tab. No squirrels will be harmed (just vaccinated) and, over time, the population should reduce considerably.

I'm not sure how I feel about manipulating the balance of nature like this but, seeing as an entire city was built long ago on land that was formerly wild, the balance of nature was actually tipped a long time ago. The best we humans can try to do is protect what's left by doing no harm, and particularly by not killing.

Maybe our neighbors in Britain, who have been killing grey squirrels as they imperil the native reds, should visit Santa Monica?


my backyard said...

Glad they're not hurting the squirrels

College said...

Good to hear

Anonymous said...

Found your blog because it was a blog of note on blogger.

I am an animal and nature lover myself. What compelled me to comment on this post is when you say, you don't know how you feel about interfering with nature.

I understand what you mean. However, isn't that what you are doing by rehabbing suirrels that mother nature would otherwise have let die? Don't get me wrong. I think what you're doing is positive. But it is interfering with nature none the less.

I am a bluebirder myself and I interfere with nature quite a bit in that regard.

I also feed the birds and other wildlife. Which also qualifies as interfering with nature.

In any case, it was just something to chew on.

squirrelmama said...

Right you are, Anonymous. I really do wrestle with those issues on an almost daily basis. And yet I guess anything we do in our lives interferes with other living things so....perhaps the best thing to do is just have good intentions in whatever you do, and try not to make yourself crazy worrying about it too much.
Thanks for stopping into my blog for a visit, I hope you'll come back. (Bluebirds are the official bird of NY State and so I have a special fondness for them - after hummingbirds, that is.)

Professional Englishman said...

Hi, indeed it's sad that we in the UK think it's acceptable to wipe out one species (grey) to protect another (red). Ironic, really. Especially when you consider that we caused the problem in the 1st place. D'oh.

squirrelmama said...

I know just what you mean. It seems that too much animal suffering is caused by humans - whether intentional or unintended.