I've noticed that one of the most common calls on the metro Phoenix fire incident log, at least in the spring, is "snake removal." All these calls that I saw, requiring the response of an engine company or other fire apparatus, originated in north Scottsdale.
Facebook friends will have to be patient because some of this repeats posts I made there. But the response was enough that I thought it would be worth putting on Rogue. Also, this site maintained by Phoenix Fire, is not nearly as complete or entertaining as Seattle Fire's Real Time 911. In addition, Phoenix has a shockingly high number of 962s (auto accident with injuries) and 962s involving pedestrians and bicycles.
Back to the snakes.
This is territory where my buddies and I in high school would hike to seek out good (and safe) places for target shooting. It was completely empty of people and houses, breathtakingly beautiful Sonoran Desert with all manner of plant and animal life. We never imagined it would be otherwise.
From training as far back as Cub Scouts, we knew to tramp heavy — so the snake would be forewarned and slide out of the way — not to reach under bushes or into holes (hello, newcomers), avoid the terrain snakes like, pause to listen and how to react to the distinctive sound of a rattler. Being heavily armed, including with a varmint gun, helped, too. But the desert was always approached with respect. It could kill you.
Now, of course, this has been turned into the tony precincts of DC Ranch, Greyhawk, Troon North and assorted gated properties and real-estate hustles. The virgin desert I remember has long since been bulldozed for McMansions. Pinnacle Peak and the McDowells are mere amenities for the wealthy.
But nobody told the snakes and other critters that their habitat was being sold, flipped, reflipped, banked, resold and developed for the toffs. So when a diamondback slithers in for a curious look at the property, call 911!
There are many costs to sprawl on steroids: infrastructure, hollowing out rather than reinvesting in older neighborhoods, increased carbon emissions, car dependency, civic disconnection and other externalities such as loss of crucial rural land (sometimes public lands) and an increased heat island.
(Growing up in what is now Willo, I never saw a rattlesnake or a Gila monster — believe me, I looked. But this was old city.)
Almost all of these are increased public costs to ensure privatized profits. Another is especially heinous: wildfires, which must be fought, with sometimes lethal consequences, by government firefighters. And, on a smaller level, the snakes that must be removed (at no cost to the house-owner, apparently) by government firefighters.
Here's the killer: North Scottsdale is a hotbed of antipathy to government, public employees, taxes and, right down to its physical layout, the commons and common good. So those firefighters are lazy, overpaid union thugs with pensions (the impudence!) — until you need them to snag the rattler in the pool.
This is also the bunch that continues to vote down school bonds, leaving the Scottsdale district, whose Coronado High once had one of the nation's best fine arts programs, to savagely cut.
There is indeed an intruder here. Cold blooded. Dangerous if crossed. A natural predator.
Unfortunately, we can't call the fire department to relocate the toffs, bulldoze the McMansions, restore this gift-of-God desert and remove the snakes of the Real Estate Industrial Complex.