Some people in Hawaii hate, loathe and despise the fact that some of My Brethren have taken Our little coquí frogs, producers of the musical warble that fills Our nights, to those Pacific islands. They hate the unfamiliar noise and that the noise is almost impossible to eradicate. (The coquí is a ventriloquist, so you look where he ain't.)
I understand those Hawaiians. I get their pain. But they have one kind of little animal to deal with...and We have three.
First, monkeys. Disease-addled escapees that We have voted into office every freaking election year since 195--Oh, sorry. Disease-riddled monkeys, genus Rhesus and Pata, swam across a narrow strip of ocean from the tiny island research facility that housed them. What was once a small handful of breeding pairs has become an epidemic: estimates of the monkey population on My Island ranges from 5,000 to 12,000.
Most are sick with syphillis, the simian version of AIDS and other diseases. Reports abound that they no longer flee when they see people and that they have attacked cars in group rages. They have expanded their range from the southwest--where I live--to the western edge of the San Juan Metro area. What they will do when--not if, when--they cross that barrier into the rain forest is a nightmare on Our schedule.
Huge iguanas, crested craggy creatures that can stretch to 7-8 feet (half of that tail) are proliferating like mad and We vote them into office every freaking elec---Oh, sorry. These iguanas arrived here as exotic pets, not lab animals, and either escaped or were tossed into the wild, like the alligators We have in Our northwestern mangroves. The problem is that, unlike the gators, the iguanas can easily find food anywhere and out-compete Our smaller native species. The large iguanas are particularly vicious when it comes to eating bird eggs, with many of Our native birds seeing a negative impact from this invasion.
I know a 5-year old boy who has a pet snake. His third in a year. The other two? Oh, they escaped. Puerto Rico--or My Island, as it is known (to Me)--had only one native snake species and We kept voting it into office eve--Oh, sorry. Now, according to Natural Resources Department personnel, We have over 20 snake species here, many of them of the boa and python families. My dad killed a 9-foot snake outside his house about 20 years ago, in the hills of Arroyo (southeast coast). His neighbors told him that was the seventh or eighth snake of that size killed in the area in the span of a few months. Those neighbors now indicate that large snakes are an increasingly common sight in the higher and drier hills of the region, the ones where people seldom roam, but dogs and cats often do.
These monkeys and lizards and snakes are a problem...and not because We keep voting them into office every freaking election. These animals endanger Our lives and that of Our native species. The Puerto Rican parrot, whose population is rising slowly after years of dedicated conservation efforts, could be wiped out in months if monkeys and iguanas ravish the rain forest the parrots cling to precariously. Farmers along the southwest coast and southwest interior have practically given up their small farms because the monkeys ravage the crops and the fines for killing one of these monkeys is in the thousands of dollars.
But what is going to happen when a monkey attacks someone and wounds them grievously? Or when iguanas wipe out most of Our birds? Or when snakes multiply to the point where Our camping and relaxation areas are biological mine fields? What then?
So far, We have no solutions. Hunting with air rifles has been allowed, but in limited fashion. Trapping has been tried, but in the case of monkeys, who will take them or how they will be destroyed has been an obstacle. (Don't tell Me these monkeys can't be killed wholesale: they can be. If you think about it, it's the only practical, affordable and reasonably-implementable solution.) Trapping iguanas and snakes is a more difficult deal, but they need to be decimated as well. And no, bringing in some other animal to eat the iguanas and snakes is not a solution. We have enough problems with bringing animals into Puerto Rico and voting them into offi--Oh, sorry.
It's painfully obvious We have dozens of major problems, exceedingly hard to solve. These animals are part of the chaotic problem set We face every day. But unlike other facets of this ugly diamond, We can do something about these animals. We can get rid of the monkeys, then the iguanas and then the snakes. If nothing else, solving one problem gives Us momentum to solve another. But whether We pick an animal or corrupt politicians or amoral thieves to eliminate, We can find all three in the current (non)administration.
Oh, sorry: We can find solutions. We just have to want to enough. Soon.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
[Update: 18 May 2011: Local officials capture an illegal shipment of exotic species, including pythons, boas, a hooded cobra, crocodiles, alligators, scorpions and tarantulas. The capture took place in Arroyo. Imagine that. And in Guayama, an alligator is jailed. No, I didn't make that up.]