The Animal Doctor

Have Hunters No Shame?

Organizations like Ducks Unlimited have helped protect wetlands from agricultural and other encroachments and pollution. But an initiative in South Dakota is a throwback to the times when some species, like wolves and cougars, were exterminated -- not just to protect livestock, but so deer and elk hunters could have all the game for themselves.

Times are changing, not because of some people’s sentiment for such predators, but because without them, we have ecological dysbiosis: unhealthy ecosystems, as well as less healthy deer and elk herds.

One example of the elimination of perceived competition for hunters comes from South Dakota, which in April set a bounty on target species. The state is giving $10 to trappers for every raccoon, striped skunk, badger, opossum or red fox they kill, because these predators raid the nests of waterfowl and upland game birds.

Shame on South Dakota and the mini-minds who “manage” the state’s natural resources and wildlife. Reducing these species will increase the numbers of others, including mice and other small rodents that are the primary reservoirs for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. So Mother Nature puts a pox on us all!

DEAR DR. FOX: Congratulations on your article in our local newspaper. It is the most balanced mention of vaccines in this paper in at least two years.

I have spoken to no less an authority than Dr. Tom Coburn, former U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, about his concerns with the MMR vaccine. I have urged reporters to interview him, but they refuse. His first-hand experience doesn’t fit the Pharma/CDC narrative.

Your column is a dose of rational skepticism. Glad to see it! -- S.P., Tulsa, Oklahoma

DEAR S.P.: I appreciate your letter. Reason and sound science take second place these days to vested interests, and the wave of anti-science and disinformation are major civil society concerns.

I was raising questions about companion animal vaccinations in my columns 20 years ago, especially over the annual “boosters” touted by many veterinarians who believed they were safe. Some local veterinary associations then sought to have newspapers drop my column. But since that time, the veterinary profession has progressed significantly in this regard, to a degree I would consider far greater than the human medical profession has. I have never been an anti-vaccine advocate, but to question their safety and effectiveness can trigger the wrath of the medical establishment. I like to say that I have taken the middle road on vaccination concerns over the years, and have been, on occasion, hit by traffic going both ways!

DEAR DR. FOX: Sadly, we are expected to mow lawns in our neighborhood.

We comply, but we refuse to use chemicals, and we allow whatever wants to grow to have its way. In addition, we keep the blade high, to avoid cutting a good many clover flowers and such, and tend to have the shaggiest lawn in the neighborhood.

We have four varieties of clover, a couple of sorrels, buttercups, wild chives, violets and other low-growing blossoms. Everything is natural in our flower garden. We have plenty of bugs, including ladybird beetles and praying mantises. The fence behind the house harbors wild raspberries and other flowering bee treats. It’s kinda like suburban civil disobedience.

Birds and squirrels abound. No need to put out seed. Plenty of goodies in Nature’s grocery! But we are very concerned that honeybees have not put in an appearance. We are not allowed to keep bees, but if they want to take up residence, we won’t bother them, unless a serious beekeeper has a better place for them.

Maybe the rest of the neighborhood will discover the wonders of a wild lawn. We’ll keep the red carpet out for honeybees! Bless you all! -- S.M., Plymouth, Indiana

DEAR S.M.: Many readers will applaud your initiative and, hopefully, follow your “suburban civil disobedience.” If you poison insects in your yard or garden, you will also poison the native birds that eat those insects, including American robins, warblers, swallows, nighthawks, hummingbirds and hundreds of other species. Unfortunately, the adult birds feed the contaminated insects they find to their youngsters in the nest, and the entire family dies. Other insectivores, such as reptiles and amphibians, will also be poisoned -- or, along with the birds, die from starvation because insects are so few.

Local municipal and community ordinances concerning lawn care and maintenance need to be changed, not only for the bees and other insects, most of whom are beneficial, but also to help purify the rain and ultimately our drinking water. Certainly, the chemical fertilizer and pesticide contamination is greatest from industrial agriculture, but residential and corporate property owners, even if operating within the law, should be ridiculed for having “perfect” lawns.

(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)

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