Sunday, March 26, 2017

"And you thought Godzilla was bad for the neighborhood"

My wife clipped the article from the newspaper and handed it to me without comment: "Radioactive boars run rampant in Japan." We have a shorthand after so many years together. She knows what I like. She knows that if there is one thing I like more than a can of Cheez Whiz exploding on the floor of the Senate, it's radioactive wildlife. (I am actually still waiting for the Cheez Whiz thing to happen.)

After the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in 2011, residents for miles around were evacuated and in their absence the native wild boars have flourished. Radioactivity does not seem to have dampened their reproductive impulses. Perhaps it is easier to find a mate when you glow in the dark. So a boar's life these days in the forbidden zone basically consists of eating radioactive vegetation and making like a tusked Hugh Hefner.

The government is allowing people back to their homes in the zone, though, which means the boars, which number in the thousands now, are a problem. Like deer are in certain parts of the Midwest, except poisonous. There has been talk of using drones to frighten them away. As a suburbanite, might I suggest a phalanx of gardeners walking shoulder to shoulder with leaf blowers, all the way to the sea?

Japan is not even the only place dealing with radioactive boars. Over the past few decades the critters have meandered hundreds of miles from the Chernobyl meltdown region to Germany, where a third of all boars are now too Geiger-countery for human consumption. This is the world we are living in. I am old enough to remember the good old days when a boar would be content to kill you with its tusks.

Chernobyl has been a boon to wildlife, ironically, creating a thousand-square-mile human-free sanctuary for animals who don't mind having a half-life. The Eurasian Lynx, gone from Europe for a century, is rebounding. Wolves too, although there are fears of genetic mutations. I say if there is finally a worthy foe for those ninja turtles, let's do this!

Godzilla was just a metaphor, but his smaller, bristle-haired cousins walk among us. Residents say they must be cleared out before normal life can resume. Who wants to stroll out for their morning paper through a front yard gauntlet of boars? The headlines are scary enough as it is.


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