The cutsie-wootsie side of the invading species issue

Just about two years ago, my Netflix viewing history led their smarter-than-average RecommendationBot to suggest that I might enjoy The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a documentary on a likeable fellow in San Francisco with a good amount of free time on his hands, who spent a good amount of that free time between 1993-1999 in the company of a flock of wild parrots in a hilly neighborhood in San Francisco.

“Wait, wait, wait,” I’ll ask for you, “Wild parrots? They can’t be wild if they live in downtown San Francisco.” Which would be true enough if human children lost in the woods and raised by wolves didn’t qualify as wild children, which I can tell you first hand they most assuredly do. Though not indigenous, the flock of parrots the protagonist of the film (hereafter, Mr. Mark Bittner, who’s responsible for the photo above, and whom you can research in greater detail in your own free time on his non-blog website) spendt his time getting to know were largely born free of captivity and are, ipso facto, wild. It’s a touching story, and I encourage you to watch the DVD (although, in the interest of full disclosure, I recommend you put Battle Royale and The World According to Garp higher on the list if you haven’t seen either of them).

Anyway, around to a point: as cwoot and cuddwy as these parrots are, the simple truth is that they’re an invading species. Though their ancestors are, perhaps as speculated by a pet store owner in the film, an escaped shipment of prospective pets, the fact that they’ve developed into a sustained, growing population puts them in the same category as those cute little mussels in the Great Lakes, Japanese beetles, and Africanized (aka killer) bees here in the Americas (I won’t even mention Influenza), and/or rabbits on the continent of Australia. Who knows what evils this flock of transplanted, tropical fowl could visit not only on the people of San Francisco, but its flora, fauna and public monuments.

And now I have to confess that I wrote the above paragraph with a tone of mock alarm. Reading further in Mr. Bittner’s site, however, I find that a lot of very serious people feel that way in earnest.

In 1988, a man in Chicago with interests similar to Mr. Bittner and a flock of wild parrots under his study found his parrots targetted for elimination by the USDA (i.e., the same people who keep mad cow disease out of your Happy Meals). Alas, the USDA backed down when the people of Chicago came at them with torches and pitchforks. The USDA and a goodly number of other agencies, government sponsored and otherwise, are devoting considerable time and attention to warding off invading hordes of lower organisms.

Which, of course, awakens Conspiracy Guy. If there’s such attention being given to the keeping out of clams, ants and grass, how formidable might be the powers set to holding higher organisms at bay? We’ve recently seen speculation that the Vatican might be involved, and Lord knows they have considerably greater resources at their disposal than the USDA. Yes, convoluted as the trail may seem to the casual observer, it’s entirely possible that Netflix is conscously trying to alert me to The Pope’s plans to keep the Earth free of alien infestation because, cute as they may seem when they first arrive, within a few years we’ll all be picking clumps of those pesky ETs out of our otherwise well manicured front lawns.

And you can quote me on that in The Weekly World News.

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