Who put all this Nature in my Nature?!?
Ask any native Coloradan, and they’ll tell you: The Californians have arrived…and they’re in for a big shock. It’s a trend that’s been going on for some time now: The blue-state Millennials—many of whom are entering their late 20s and early 30s—are realizing that their urban Utopias are actually too crowded, expensive, and overbearingly nanny-stated to raise families in. They’re picking up and relocating to the country to live out their pastoral dream of life among Nature. Maybe they’ll plant a little truck garden; maybe they’ll raise chickens. And won’t it be wonderful to see all those beautiful animals and live in kum-ba-yah peace with them? Mmmnotsomuch. Here are three critters that are going to stop being cute to them in about a year.
“Look, kids! It’s a deer! Right here in our front yard!” That’s what it will sound like the first dozen times or so. It’s pretty common for city dwellers to think of deer as “endangered,” because most city dwellers just don’t see them often, and they have this vague idea that everything “natural” is being threatened by global warming or Trump voters or whatever the latest bugaboo is.
Then Millennial Mom and Hipster Dad are going to start noticing something: Those deer are freaking everywhere. And, just like my stripper ex-girlfriend, their beauty is matched only by their stupidity. They will literally launch themselves at your moving vehicle with suicidal abandon, and there’s kind of nothing you can do about it but get your wallet handy to cover all those insurance copays.
Oh, and that little vegetable garden that was going to be your farm-to-table locavore heaven? The deer ate it. All of it. You can replant if you want—the deer will eat that, too. And when you’ve given up on your garden, their next move is to strip the trees of vegetation for several feet up the trunk, destroying the habitat for those songbirds you wanted to spot.
Give it one year, and Millennial Mom and Hipster Dad are going to be snarling, “Screw Bambi. Bambi’s got it coming.”
It’s easy to see why a city-dwelling transplant to the country might initially be delighted to hear the hypnotic, chilling song of coyotes howling at night. Plus, they really look like dogs—and that’s because many of them have a lot of feral dog ancestry. What many urbanites don’t get is that coyotes are, like whitetail deer, common as dirt. And if you live east of the Mississippi, those ‘yotes aren’t…entirely coyotes. Not anymore, anyway. As the Western coyote population spread, it went north before it went east. In that time, they interbred not just with feral domestic dogs, but with both red and gray wolves. This has helped those coyotes become much larger and more aggressive than their Western cousins.
They’re also hungry. And coyotes are opportunistic eaters that can and will go after your vegetable garden as well as your trash, your egg-laying chickens, any other livestock you have (including much larger animals like cattle and goats), and your pets. Attacks on humans are rare, but they do happen…and if they’re going to attack a human, they tend to go after the smaller ones among us.
Give it a year, and Millennial Mom and Hipster Dad just might have a scoped rimfire rifle set up right near their back door, in case the coyotes come calling.
Oh, yes, prairie dogs are cute. They’re like everything that’s cute about a squirrel multiplied by everything that’s cute about a guinea pig. And what Millennial Mom and Hipster Dad are about to discover is that those adorable little bastards turn everything they contact into a blasted, lifeless moonscape like some kind of hellish reverse Midas touch. As they construct their elaborate, cute little prairie-dog burrows, they eat everything they see from the roots up. And, much like the waves of blue-state transplants, once they’ve turned their home into an unlivable sh*tpit, they move on to some fertile new place and set about destroying it.
Of course, Nature abhors a vacuum and the barren abandoned prairie-dog towns will eventually sprout with new vegetation. Too bad that new vegetation is concealing the presence of the deep, narrow holes in the ground…making a perfect opportunity to step in one and break a leg.
Here’s another fun fact about the prairie dog: They carry a disease called Yersinia pestis. Also known as the Bubonic Plague. Yes, THAT plague; the one that killed about a third of the European population in the Middle Ages. So when Fido goes a-roaming and catches himself a very, very cute little prairie dog, he might be bringing home the Black Plague in addition to that ashamed poo-eating grin all dogs get when they know they’ve been naughty. Now, these days, it’s very treatable—if, that is, your doctors are able to figure out what you have.
Give it a year, and Millennial Mom and Hipster Dad will be cursing the dogs right along with the ranchers and farmers that are their new neighbors.
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