Wednesday, August 27, 2003
This image is worth wallpapering your desktop with. Apparently Berlin has a feral boar problem. The best line of the article is the suggestion of curbing pig populations by "putting birth control substances into acorns." As crazy as it seems, birth control in animals isn't uncommon. Practically every female critter you've seen at the zoo has an IUD implant (zoo husbandry programs are quite sophisticated, aimed at enhancing diversity of captive populations to promote conservation missions, ergo, "accidents" almost never happen). Birth control methods have also been applied to feral animal populations such as monkeys in Hong Kong. Actress Brigitte Bardot is campaigning to control feral dog populations in eastern Europe through sterilization/release programs as well. Though I consider myself as weighing in on the side of animals, I find Bardot's efforts misguided and the acorn tri-cyclin idea ludicrous. In Bucharest alone, there are estimated to be at least 300,000 stray dogs. As far as I know, Romania is not a rich country and would be far better off allocating its resources elsewhere. Sterilized dogs also pose a significant public health problem. Think of it this way: wouldn't you be upset if Mayor Daley spent a lot of money to release a pack of 300,000 dogs onto Chicago when those dogs could have more cheaply and just as humanely been eliminated? As far as the pill-in-the-acorn idea goes, imagine the consequences to other acorn eating animals such as squirrels, not to mention the possibility of birth control hormones leaching into the water human Berliners drink. The Hong Kong Monkey Plan, on the other hand seems more on target. First of all the monkeys, though not native, just need to be pushed back a little, not eradicated as there is ample space for them in the surrounding hills. Secondly, monkeys are simians and we as humans should feel a great responsibility to treat other primates similarly to humans. Thirdly, Hong Kong seems to be able to afford this elaborate birth control plan and the monkeys are a beloved component of the city.