Many species are invasive

There is a lot of concern these days about invasive species. And rightly so. There seem to be thousands of species out there in the world just waiting to invade. And it’s not just nuisance aquatic species like Didymosphenia geminata (a.k.a. “rock snot,” or didymo for short) and Myriophyllum spicatum (Eurasian milfoil) that are causing trouble in the neighborhood.
Consider my yard and garden.  This spring I have been waging a war against porcupines. With regularly frequency, we get woken up around 1 a.m. by the sound of one (or sometimes two) of the spiny things chewing the side of our house. Apparently, they like the taste of our expensive new stain. I tried hosing them down with cold water a couple times. They don’t like that much, and it tends to drive them away. For the rest of that one night. Next night, though, they’re back at it.
I’ve even managed to catch four of them by dropping my trashcan over them. They are surprisingly fast for creatures that don’t need to run from much. Or maybe I’m just slow when I get woken from sound sleep in the middle of the night.
Fortunately, despite rumors to the contrary, they can’t actually shoot quills. So catching them is only slightly scary. Still, I lack the heart for capital punishment. So I just put a lid on the can, transport them several miles away, and leave them off to find a new home (in both senses of that).
But it doesn’t help. More keep coming. Big ones. Little ones. I admit the smaller ones are cute, even when looking up at me from the bottom of my trashcan. The side of my house, however, is starting to look ugly from the gouging.
And that’s not the only thing. For the past two weeks, a doe has essentially been living in the brush just a few yards from our back porch. We see it every morning when we get up, and every evening as we’re going to bed. Sometimes the brazen thing just walks into our yard in the middle of the day and starts munching next to our shed.
Like an annoying guest that won’t leave, this deer is now eating us out of house and home. Four mornings ago I inspected the damage. The doe-eyed beast had eaten the fresh green shoots right down to the stub on the four new raspberry bushes. It had eaten the leaves off a third of the young bean plants in my garden. And it had gobbled up the greens off the bottom of my cherry tree. It also left footprints through my carrots and squash (perhaps thinking that if it killed the plants it didn’t like I might replant more beans for it).
I immediately rearmed myself with deer repellent spray and soaked the garden in it. I guess it works. The last three days, I’ve spotted no new damage. But who knows how long that will last? Until the next rain, maybe.
Anyway, my wife decided the doe needed a name. I came up with Tenderloin. To my surprise, she agreed. It so happens, she loves raspberries. So as adorable as she thinks the animal is, she acknowledged it was a villain. Until today, that is. Turns out the reason the doe isn’t venturing far from our house is that she has a newborn fawn. That fawn made its first appearance in our yard today, bounding through the knee-high grass I haven’t been able to mow the past two weeks because of the rains.
In addition to thinking that our lawn needed mowing, I was also pondering the reason for this recent inhabitation. I guess our yard must be a safe haven from coyotes. And we no longer have a dog. Combined with the free all-you-can-eat buffet meals, that makes it a good neighborhood for raising young’uns.
I also thought perhaps we could name the fawn Rump Roast, or maybe just go with the old standby: Venison. I made the suggestion aloud. Suddenly, however, my wife decided those names weren’t any good. Her sympathies seem to have gone right back over to the side of the young (and probably single) mom.
Which brings me back to the topic of invasive species. Though many invasive species are pests, apparently not all of us are. At least that’s what the doe and porcupine must be thinking these days about the human species that have invaded their woods.
Sure, we cut down some trees, and we make the air smoky, and we leave bad-smelling non-bio-degradable objects lying around, and we ride around in big, loud, dangerous four-wheeled machines. But look at all the free food we supply. We can’t be all bad.

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