WASHINGTON, DC–The indigenous North American hippie population has expanded to the point that its teeming herds are endangering the planet's fragile freakosystem, warned a Department of the Interior report released Monday.
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According to the report, over the past 20 years, the wide-ranging, largely migratory hippies have more than tripled in population, insidiously infiltrating nearly every other U.S. subculture while venturing far beyond their natural Vermont and Colorado habitats.
"Due to the species' lack of predators, willingness to live almost anywhere and rabbit-like breeding habits, the hippie has become the most prevalent feature on the American countercultural landscape," Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt said. "If we do not soon find a way to thin their herds, they will overwhelm every other subculture on the continent, potentially leading to freakological disaster on a mass global scale."
A herd of hippies grazes in a field near Burlington, VT.
Experts say the hippie-related environmental damage has largely been the result of their sheer numbers. Long regarded as a mere nuisance species, the hippies have grown over the past 10 years into one of the most populous in North America, numbering close to 20 million. Further, because of the hippie herds' normal daily cycle of waking, bongo-playing and large-scale grass consumption, followed by a brief period of torpor and then aggressive nutritive replenishment, their freakological impact is enormous.
"Each summer, the hippie herds migrate north to Boulder, wiping out 80 to 90 percent of the hummus supply of the regions through which they pass," National Park Service director Roger Kennedy said. "In certain parts of Colorado, by mid-August, the patchouli reservoirs are entirely drained."
The burgeoning herds–identifiable by their dreadlocked hair, hemp jewelry and distinctive tie-dyed markings–have greatly affected the quality of life of people living in these areas of high hippie concentration.
"They're everywhere," said Linda Hewson of Albany, NY. "Last night, when I went to take out the trash, I found one of them foraging through my garbage cans for Dead bootlegs. I shooed it away, but a bunch more came by later scavenging for discarded twirling sticks."
"My property is overrun with them," said Vallejo, CA, resident Patrick Davis, who said he is considering moving if the problem gets worse. "They even set up a bead-vending stand in my backyard."
First introduced into the cultural landscape in the early 1960s, the hippie, or homo habilis VWbus, was initially applauded by freakologists, who believed they would be beneficial in curbing the growth of the then-ubiquitous Establishment Type. When the crisis passed in the early 1970s, the hippie population was reduced to a fraction of its former size, creating room in the American freakosystem for numerous other subcultures, including punks, new-wavers and goths. Social developments of recent years, however, have caused the hippies' numbers to balloon once more.
A 1985 photo of an Olympia, WA, meadow sparsely populated with hippies. By 1996, the meadow was destroyed, its topsoil stripped clean by migratory hippie herds numbering in the thousands.
"For some time, it was believed that the extinction of Jerry Garcia and the dispersal of The Grateful Dead would have a suppressive effect on the size of the hippie population," Kennedy said. "Surprisingly, though, exactly the opposite has happened: The herds have grown, diversifying and spreading out. In the past, if the Dead were playing in Chicago, the entire hippie species would be singularly concentrated there. But today, you could have a herd of hippies at Red Rocks to see Phish while, at the very same moment, an equally large herd is massing in Ann Arbor for a Widespread Panic show."
Another reason for the hippie explosion, environmentalists say, lies in the differences between the current crop and the more mature, "old-growth" hippies of the 1960s. While old-growth hippies were a gentle species that was considered a mild annoyance at worst, the new breed, they say, is a hardier, more insidious creature which seems to thrive in virtually any environment.
"We're seeing these young hippies in the malls, in fraternities, on Madison Avenue–all kinds of places where hippies were once considered non-indigenous," said Alfred Meijer of the Nature Conservancy. "Years of cross-breeding and exposure to television have produced a hybridized, consumer-culture-bred hippie that can adapt to literally any environment, countercultural or mainstream. And unlike the old-growth hippies, which at least were anti-materialistic, the new ones are voracious consumers, swiftly depleting their habitat of all resources and purchasable goods."
Though most experts agree that the vast herds must be thinned, they are divided on how to go about it. Some are calling for the hippies to be spayed and neutered and then placed in designated preserve areas, where they would be free to roam peacefully and play hacky-sack. Others suggest more extreme measures, advocating the use of large, headshop-shaped traps to lure the hippies. Once inside the traps, the hippies would be poisoned with super-adhesive, cyanide-laced Guatemalan blankets and sweaters.
"Whatever we do, we must do it soon," Babbitt said. "If we don't, we are dooming our children to live in a world overrun with backless apron dresses and bare feet. And that is a fate we can ill afford."