Last summer, I was spared from an event that’s become an annual tradition: killing a copperhead. The tradition launched around 2011, and at this point I’m not even perturbed when I have to dispatch one, whether with a shovel or a machete. It’s not that I want to kill a copperhead on an annual basis, it’s that they’re ornery little bastards that generally aren’t amenable to my plans to accelerate their journey from just outside the back door to the other side of the fence.
The first time it happened, it was later in the evening. I had retired to the backyard to clear my mind. Then I noticed Bindi the dog bobbing and weaving, and realized why. Since it was after happy hour, I attempted to pick the snake up with a shovel to deposit it on the other side of the fence.
It responded not with appreciation to my magnanimous gesture but instead curled up in an attempt to bite me. While I’m usually live-and-let-live on most wildlife, this left me with no choice but to remove its head with the shovel. Then I accelerated its journey to the other side of the fence.
Since that time, there have been other snakes. Some more obstinate, hence the machete, and others that beat a retreat to the other side of the fence without my help. When I tell people this, they tend to react with horror and ask why I haven’t moved the family to a new house. They also wonder why I attempt détente instead of immediately releasing those coiled venomous critters from this mortal coil.
It’s simple, really. Snakes, even the venomous ones, serve a purpose. They eat rodents that like to come in the house for a bite to eat, for just one example, and if “Lion King” taught us anything it was something about the circle of life. Snakes also prefer to leave you alone so long as you leave them alone. There is a reason most bites are received on the hands or arms, and it isn’t because snakes develop the ability to jump when feeling especially ornery—unlike the worst animal in the world.
Winged Sky Trash
Geese, on the other hand, are actually horrible and deserving of hatred and scorn. They’re big, nasty beasts. They serve no purpose, they’re disgusting, and they definitely do not prefer to leave you alone. You don’t even have to pick them up or accidentally step on them to experience their wrath. Yet some people inexplicably like them.
To begin with, geese are entitled jerks. They’re not magnificent winged creatures, they’re vile panhandlers that won’t take “no” for an answer. One time a few years back when I was briefly unemployed, I decided on an afternoon excursion for some exercise. Being unemployed and playing the part of stay-at-home mom, I followed the script: I put on my yoga pants, loaded up two-thirds of my kids, the jogging stroller, and a small bicycle, and headed to the lake and its paved trail.
As soon as we got out of the car, a whole swarm of geese mobbed us and freaked out child two, who was about four years old at the time. Why did they do that? Because of grandparents who forget where good intentions lead, geese now subsist solely on breadcrumbs and the tears of children. The geese saw my kids and thought they were about to score.
More Destructive than Blight, Fire, and Ethanol Combined
There’s also the end result of all that bread and tears—droppings so heinous and destructive that salted earth says, “I could have it worse.” It doesn’t just annihilate everything it touches; it’s also green, gross, and splattery, found everywhere within a 30-mile radius of geese, and it’s chock-full of disease and germs and nightmares.
To be fair, as mentioned earlier, we’re mainly focusing on Canada geese. Other geese have some redeeming qualities, like being vessels for foie gras. You can eat other parts of them too, though I’m sticking with the foie gras. But those geese are not free-range; there is no danger of them taking over your daughter’s bedroom. Foie gras geese are carefully raised in farms from which they cannot escape, for maximum deliciousness. They aren’t roaming around in public harassing people and tearing the place up.
Even that is insufficient, though, because of ducks, which are way more chill waterfowl that don’t mob you for crumbs. Also, they taste great without destroying everything around them. Plus, people don’t feel bad about killing ducks, as they for some reason do about geese. Some insist on engaging nuisance geese with dogs and decoys and a variety of other asinine and ineffective tactics that only irritate the geese and make them more insufferable.
Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Hogs of War
As a society, we should be ashamed. Not only do we tolerate such horrible creatures, we actively helped bring them back from endangered status instead of popping bottles about the fact that Mother Nature was doing what she’s supposed to do. Geese tolerators should feel particularly bad people did so while maligning the gentle serpents that merely want to serve us and the greater good.
Back in the Garden of Eden, when Satan called upon Eve, he did so in the form of a serpent. The great deceiver presumably could have taken any form he wanted, but he needed to be trustworthy and believable, so he went with a snake. Granted, things were different then and Eve didn’t attempt to throw him over the fence with a shovel (though perhaps she should have). That’s not the point, though. The real point is, as Dan O’Brien once tweeted, “The Book of Genesis portrays Satan as a snake because the author had never encountered geese.”
Truth. Geese are horrible, and the time for tolerance has long passed. We are fractured as a nation, as communities, within our political parties. The space program no longer animates us, there is no Cold War to unite us around a shared purpose. We can come together again, though, and lift our voices in opposition to flying sky garbage, those menaces from the north, the filthy beasts that sup on tears. Cry havoc and let slip the hogs of war. They’re more delicious, and way friendlier anyway.