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Don’t Feed the Animals by Jean-Paul L. Garnier

“Now that we are out here away from the prattle of the city, and have a big yard, we should get a birdfeeder,” said Zania. “Good idea, for once we will actually be able to see and hear the birds, not like back home where you can’t tell a car horn from the brass band at the Pentecostal church. I’ll pick one up tomorrow, there’s a beam right there that we can hang it from, and I’ll bet all these birds that fly past our yard will stop off for a snack,” agreed Jason.

And so they bought and hung up a birdfeeder. The local birds went wild for the feed they provided and it was difficult to keep the feeder full. Just a few species, with defined pecking order, could empty the rather large feeder at least every three days or so. House finches, black throated sparrows, and cactus wrens took over that corner of the yard, the latter being a messy eater and knocking millet and seed all over the yard for the smaller birds to fight over. The sparrows, the smallest of the bunch, were constantly being forced away from the feeder by the finches, who in turn had to make way for the wrens, then they would all leave, only to return again.

And so it was for several weeks, the birds gorging themselves and the store not being able to keep birdfeed on the shelf.

“These guys are going to eat us out of our home.”

“They are spilling it all over the ground, at least half of that seed is going to waste.”

And so it seemed half of the seed went to waste on the ground. But the antelope squirrels by day, and the kangaroo rats by night, didn’t think so. Free lunch was being extended to them via the wrens, and they were taking full advantage of it. Their population must have near doubled, or there was a migration toward the seeds, because the ground could be seen littered with the creatures at almost all times.

And so came snakes, and birds of prey, and larger mammals. The squirrels started to be eaten by hawks. The rats started to be eaten by owls. The rabbits couldn’t run fast enough. The snakes meandered in long S’s around the yard like prison guards, making sure none of the rodents could escape the garden, unless by capture or by death.

And so came carrion birds, and scavenger animals. Coyotes circled the fence, crows and vultures circled the air above the birds of prey. Bird scat covered everything, and in some places on the fence and trees, tetrascata were forming, causing mistletoe and other parasites to root into the harmless plants which had no way to defend themselves. The air filled with caws and yelping.

And then came even larger mammals to hunt all of the others. Bobcats and mountain lions scared off the coyotes and took their place circling the yard.

And so on, and so on, until the hunters came. At first they came to hunt the explosion of wildlife. Then they brought with them wild turkeys and other semi-controlled game. The turkeys ravaged the local plant life causing several species to go extinct.

And so small businesses came to serve the needs of the hunters. Lodging and food, gun stores and sporting goods, and more important than the others, a at which bar to drink off the day’s hunt. And so came people to own and operate these stores. And so came corporations to take advantage of business opportunities the mom and pop shops had opened up. And so came urban sprawl, so the employees of the big box shops could have places to sleep, and eat, and be entertained. And so came traffic, and pollution, and constant construction, and crime.

And so left the animals, either driven away from fright of the city, or from habitats being annihilated all together. And so came environmental agencies to raise money to stop what had already happened.

“Maybe we should get another birdfeeder. There doesn’t seem to be as many birds around now that it is so loud and bright all the time,” said Zania. “Good idea, for once we will actually be able to see and hear the birds, not like in this city where you can’t tell a car horn from the brass band at the Pentecostal church. I’ll pick one up tomorrow, there’s a beam right there that we can hang it from, maybe there’s a few birds left that will stop for a snack while passing through,” agreed Jason.