Some animals in the United States are so plentiful that they’ve become pests. Many people would be surprised at the fact that many animals that are taken for granted today almost went extinct during the late 1800s.
Around the middle of the nineteenth century, market hunting became extremely popular. Instead of shooting game to feed a single family, hunters would go out and shoot game which they would sell to large, rapidly growing urban markets. At that time, people were making a major shift from living in rural areas and hunting their own game, to living in cities where few people hunted or raised their own food. But, people still demanded wild game meat, pelts and feathers.
To feed this demand, hunters shot as many of certain species as they possibly could every time they saw them pass through the area. Several species, such as the passenger pigeon, went extinct quickly. Other were reduced to such low numbers that they couldn't recover. After protections were placed on many species and hunting became more regulated, some species began to recover and are now plentiful again.
Here is a list of some of the species that are so plentiful now that people have forgotten that they used to be scarce. Some of these species can be seen in the San Diego area.
White-tailed deer: While these type of deer don’t reside in the San Diego area, they are extremely common in the eastern United States. In fact they’re so common that they’re often considered agricultural and residential pests.
Canada goose: Canada geese were popular hunting targets that were reduced to such low levels that people hardly ever saw them for several decades. Around the early to mid-twentieth century, a captive breeding programs were begun to re-introduce Canada geese back in places where they were once common. Unfortunately, many of these captive-bred geese were not migratory and neither were their descendants. This has caused a problem with overpopulation in some areas.
Beaver: Though they are currently extremely rare in San Diego, the beaver population has rebounded in other parts of the country. Beavers were hunted for their pelts and because they cause damage to property with their dam building.
Snowy Egret: Snowy egrets, along with great egrets, were hunted for their plumes which were used in lady’s fashions. Both species have recovered and can be seen feeding along San Diego’s waterways.
Willet: Willets are extremely common shorebirds that are frequently seen in San Diego during the fall, winter, and spring. They and many other shorebirds almost went extinct due to market hunting. Willets are no longer hunted anywhere in the United States.