Man Bites Snake

Illustration by Bob AulI guess you enjoy taking your all-terrain bikes anywhere they're permitted. God knows there's no place on the streets to ride safely: the increasing traffic-related injuries are reported daily, and headgear doesn't provide much protection from a multiton SUV. That said, you nouveau Riders of the Purple Sage don't seem to care about the chaos produced by your off-road adventures. Last Friday, while on a leisurely hike through Woods Canyon just upstream from Aliso Creek, I observed one effect of your sybaritic lifestyle. Headgear would not have done much good for one member of the biotic community. It was, I think, a young gopher snake, its head crushed by your knobby tires. It lay, almost lifeless, in the soft sand at my feet after you joyously whizzed by. Instead of maturing and taking its place in the web of life, the snake will instead be eaten by carrion or ants. It will not help keep the rodent population in check naturally as a necessary predator in these fragile habitats. Why are these dirt-chewing vehicles allowed on migrational paths? How can a few selfish moments of exhilaration be worth the death of a life form that has every right to be there? Whoever you are, you've got a lot more in common with that SUV than you know.


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