Monday, April 15, 2013

giant snail invasion

Image via Wag Malawi

I got an email yesterday: "I came across this article and thought it might be an interesting opportunity for Miss Snail Pail."   Thanks, Dave!

Florida Battles Slimy Invasion by Giant Snails

Next thing I know, I'm writing to Denise Feiber, the spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to offer help with a solution.  Collection has already been very successful according to this document, Officials Praise Public for Helping Battle... , "Tens of thousands of giant African land snails have been captured since the massive mollusk was discovered in Miami-Dade County on September 8 and Florida agricultural officials credit public vigilance for the bulk of the captures."  Great news that everyone is working together. What happens to the snails once they are collected?  Are they being eaten?

People from Africa to Europe to the US recognize that snails are a nutritious food source. Destroying them is a waste of life and protein rich harvest.  If the goal in Florida is to eradicate a stucco-eating, plant devouring invasive land mollusk, then poisoning them with crustacean and bee-killing toxins (poisons don't discriminate), will effectively poison ourselves and all organisms indefinitely and with unknown consequences. People are hungry and eat all kinds of weird crap. Go to a fast food chain or look down your grocery aisles. So many processed items and chemicals on display, we forget that an infestation like this is an opportunity to do something sane and proven: hunt and eat this micro-livestock into "local extinction" like humans are known to do all over the world.

The article, perhaps unconsciously, demonizes the snail as though it is a disease ridden monster victimizing the hapless human community.  Surely other species have some things they'd like to say about our habits and microbes if they could get their words on the page. Florida is facing a real problem and I WISH I had been at the symposium last week where they were trying to determine the plan of action. I'd like to be hired to lead the GAS (giant african snail) Task Force: a consortium of homeowners, restaurateurs, snail expeditioners... to organize a system to bring the environment into balance in a bountiful way.  If it took 10 years to eradicate the last infestation of 1966, I think by bringing them onto the table, we can reduce that time frame.

Oysters are endangered because of human consumption and pollution, so with that as proof of concept, seems hungry people can get a handle on this misnomered delicacy. And about the parasites, wear gloves and cook them. Cows and chickens have parasites too, and people know better than to eat raw coq au vin. If you're interested in launching some snailing expeditions and organizing an event to celebrate that a prolific, valuable species is offering its life as a resource, contact me.

The hypocrisy of letting people starve or be malnourished while deeming the arrival of a massive mollusk a disaster illustrates how far removed many humans are from the food chain and creating environmental balance with available resources. I'm anti-extinction, unless we're talking about polio, malaria, West Nile Virus (I have some bias), and interpret this infestation as a migration of herds of shelled cattle across the seas.

It all boils down to respecting and honoring life cycles. The snails are not the enemy.

The Giant African Snail found in a Brisbane container yard. Photo: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Read more.