OPINION — My favorite humor columnist, Dave Barry, used to mention his ‘research department,’ Judi Smith, from time to time. Judi is an actual person who actually works for Dave, evidently. I know that because once, when I sent Dave an email, I got a reply from Judi. She was very cordial when she indicated she might not contact the authorities if I would quit bothering Dave. Good times.
I also have a ‘research department,’ although he doesn’t work for me and his name isn’t Judi. His name is Pat, and he sends me stories once in a while, stuff he finds interesting. And Pat is always right. I repay him by ignoring him. I think it’s a beneficial arrangement for both of us.
Pat sent me several emails recently containing some earth-shattering information which would have been pretty helpful a while back, when I did a column about killer chickens. Well, maybe not killer chickens, but at least attack chickens. But it would’ve been a killer chicken story if I’d had Pat’s story sooner.
A 76-year-old Australian woman died earlier this year after being attacked by her rooster while she was gathering eggs. The bird was pecking at her, and unfortunately punctured a varicose vein in her leg, and she died from rapid blood loss. This is not an amusing story, obviously, and I mention it as a warning to everyone who gathers eggs. Blue jeans save lives.
On a far more amusing note, Canadians seem to be intent on attacking Montana, and may be crossing the U.S. border even as you read this column. Canadian feral hogs, that is.
Of course, we’ve been dealing with the horrendous depredations of wild feral hogs in the southeastern part of the country for years now. It’s been an epic battle between man and nature, and an epic victory by nature. We’ve shot them, trapped them, blown them up with binary explosives, and some have even used poison on them. Nothing has worked. The hogs are winning.
Even after then-governor Rick Perry signed the ‘Pork Chopper’ bill into law, thereby declaring airborne war on the pigs in Texas, we still never made a dent. Not that it hasn’t been fun trying to eradicate the critters, but the situation is entirely out of hand. You don’t even need a hunting license to shoot wild hogs in Texas anymore, although I doubt that will make much difference, either. I think the hogs are here to stay.
And now, as if we didn’t already have enough hog problems already, more of them seem to be invading from Canada. The story Pat sent me quoted the Montana Invasive Species Council, the National Feral Swine Program, and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Dept. as saying the pigs ‘could do widespread damage.’ Well, no kidding. And Armageddon could be bad for earth.
But that’s not the real story. The real story, the scariest story Pat sent me, was about another invasive species currently spreading into the very heartland of our heartland. We, as Americans, now face the chilling threat of Asian Jumping Worms. As a side note, Asian Jumping Worms would make a poor name for a bad polka band.
These nefarious worms were introduced ‘accidentally’ to the southeastern US back during the 19th century, according to a poorly written article in the Midwest Messenger, which Pat sent me. I have no idea how a worm could be accidentally introduced. I was once accidentally introduced to Bobby Bare at the Bass Pro Shops grand opening in Grapevine, but it wasn’t my fault. Plus worms are pretty short, when you think about it.
The article also said, “In 2013, species from the genus Amynthas (pronounced ‘Amynthas’) were confirmed for the first time in the upper Midwest, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.” So these illegal aliens are apparently not only coming into the US uninvited, they are also taking seats at our colleges that, I’m sure we can all agree, should be reserved for worms that are actually US citizens. It’s not fair to all the hardworking earthworms whose forebears immigrated here legally. I’m just saying.
The worst part is that these Asian Jumping Worms are not content to live and work among us, learn our language, and assimilate into the established worm societies they’ve invaded. No, according to ecologist and Univ. of Wisconsin research program manager Brad Herrick, “Earthworms change the environment to suit their needs. When they are introduced, they make a host of physical, chemical, and biological changes to the soil environment.” Not only that, but the Asian Jumpers grow faster, reproduce faster, and consume more nutrients than native worms like nightcrawlers. They also don’t leave behind the good, nutrient-rich castings that would help the soil, as other worms do. Their leavings actually damage the environment, if you can imagine. It’s horrid.
And they’re spreading. Researchers worry they’ll end up all over the US, becoming a mutant worm society, and eventually taking over the Federal Reserve. OK, they didn’t say that, but you know it’s true.
I’m thinking we need a ‘Worm Chopper’ bill, and pronto. We may have lost the war against the feral hogs, but I see no reason we shouldn’t be allowed to shoot worms from helicopters, and maybe nip these Asian Jumping Worms in the bud, so to speak. So I’m doing my part to get the word out. I’m writing Dave Barry.
Maybe Judi won’t call the authorities . . .
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