Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Slaughter of Innocents

From an animal’s perspective, cars and guns were terrible inventions.

Hardly a day passes when I do not encounter a dead something on this island road. Today, it was an armadillo with his guts squashed out red and fresh on the black asphalt; tomorrow, it will be a gray squirrel, the day after that a gopher tortoise. Yesterday, it was a young raccoon, posed on the road as if he had just laid down to rest. The coon’s misfortune of choosing that moment to cross the road meant that the book was now closed on his brief life; no maturing, no adulthood, no adventures along the beach, no scrambling up palm trees (as I have seen them do so often), no mating, no family, no fun. His short journey is over.

Now, if an animal a day is killed on a slow, curvy six-mile beach road like this, I suppose it must be magnified by tens of thousands when you consider the other highways around the nation. It means that millions and millions of animals must die each year, if not each month. Surely, with all the advances in technology, surely a cheap device can be added to cars and trucks that would scare animals away and force them back from the path of approaching vehicles. Perhaps such a high frequency sound wave would make a roadway the most unattractive place on earth for animals.

As for the invention of guns, no longer would human cunning, stealth and strength be priorities when hunting; now, with the passing of the bow and arrow and spear, virtually anyone--man, woman or child, old or young, healthy or halt, smart or stupid, from their car, out a kitchen window, or hanging upside down by their heels--could pose and preen as a mighty hunter by simply popping a luckless animal at long-distance. The hunter need no longer be the fittest of the fit--crafty, patient, stealthy, swift, strong, smart--to shoot an animal with a firearm; all a hunter need now was a rifle, an itchy trigger finger and a strong desire to kill something.

Of the two scourges to the animal kingdom, however, I rate cars as the most catastrophic. Unlike those with guns who must first work up enough hate and idiotic excuses to kill them, those of us who drive cars continue the slaughter when it is the last thing on earth we really want to do. Every time we buckle up and drive the roads we are involuntarily engaging in the massacre. Clearly, animals, domestic and wild, will need another 10,000 years of evolution before they can cross the road safely on their own; and until “civilization” can ban all forms of hunting with firearms, the shameless slaughter in the name of “sport” will continue.

"Elmer Fudd" (above) is, I think, a fit symbol of the modern hunter.


Sand Sculpture of the Day