April 20, 2005 3:00 AM

America's vanilla landscapes mean more animals but fewer species

Wisconsin officials last week toyed with the idea of shooting 2 million stray cats. With white-tailed deer overrunning suburbia, a New Jersey environmental group wants more, not less, hunting. Fort Worth, Texas, may enlist downtown merchants to shoot firecrackers at an estimated 1 million noisy grackles. Battles to curb the spread of Canada geese, beavers, kudzu, raccoons, house sparrows and European starlings are already pretty much lost. Residents of suburban Detroit and other regions are trying to cope with increases in voracious rabbits and stinky skunks. These species once considered benign if not cuddly show that there can be way too much of a good thing.

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