But even if there were no laws, even if all manufacturers were evil, and even if pesticides did hurt wildlife instead of immeasurably helping it, there is a geographical factor which would still guarantee the survival of America's living creatures. Each year chemical pesticides are distributed over about 90 million acres of U.S. farmland, forest, and insect-breeding dry lands and wetlands. Weedkillers are used on about the same number with considerable overlapping in certain areas. Thus, the total land area treated with pesticides of all kinds is about one acre in every 12. More than 75% of the entire continental U.S. has never received any treatment at all.
What does kill wild animals? Disease, starvation, winter and automobiles all take far greater tolls of wildlife than do pesticides. Furthermore, the determining factors in overall game populations are not single holocausts but a combination of weather, food and habitat. Still, intensive research must continue, and pesticide controls must be kept uniformly tight. In this respect, even the wildlife custodians, on whose toes Miss Carson trod so heavily, are grateful to her. For without the shock value of Silent Spring, their programs and problems might never have gotten the public support and interest that have followed in the wake of the book. Meanwhile, as research continues and practice improves, the wise and discreet use of chemical pesticides is assuring us not of a silent spring, but of seasons filled with all the rich, new sounds of animal and human prosperity.