Saturday, March 31, 2007

One last rant

I saw on some news site or other that a fisher has been spotted not far from my home in southeastern New England -- where I will be in a few days. A fisher is a large brown animal in the marten family that preys on porcupines. Welcome, fisher. And welcome too to all the other animals, including blue birds, foxes, deer and coyotes, that are making themselves at home in New England, some after a long absence, some for the first time.

Meanwhile, on this little Bahamian island the species fade away, and there is no reservoir or refuge to replenish them.

In the dozen years I have lived here we have watched a falling population of worm snakes, brown snakes, boas, frogs, geckos, birds, moths and butterflies. The islands have a rather limited fauna to begin with, so failing populations are easy to observe.

I'm part of the problem, of course, as every acre of development reduces habitats. Still, we left as much of our plot as possible in a natural state, and for a long time had a healthy population of creatures. Now the island is going upscale -- million-dollar holiday houses for nouveau riche Americans. The pattern is to bulldoze the land flat and clean -- rocks, ridges, dunes, every scrap of native flora -- then spend a fortune landscaping. The "restored" environment is soaked in pesticides. It's not a pattern that is healthy for populations of animals that have few places to run and no avenues of replenishment.

The Bahamians seem unwilling to enforce environmental regulations and any rational development plan seems nonexistent. In true American fashion, the lure of the fast buck trumps any long-range concern for quality of life. And so the "exclusive," "gated" developments go up (excluding whom? gated against whom?), the island becomes a suburb of South Florida, and Bahamians become second-class citizens in their own country.