Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nature Wars

Here’s an article about conflicts caused by the overlapping of our cities and suburbs with the territories of wild animals, an unintended consequence of successful conservation and wildlife re-introduction efforts:

America Gone Wild: Nature Wars

This sentence really surprised me:

“It is very likely that in the eastern United States today more people live in closer proximity to more wildlife than anywhere on Earth at any time in history.”

But, then, it also came as a revelation to me when I learned, years ago, that what looked to me like the “wilderness” of Shenandoah National Park actually comprises new growth forest that sprang up after the human inhabitants were relocated for the establishment of the park.

I’m reminded of the recurrent controversy over bear hunts in western Maryland. The people of the western counties complain about the black bear nuisance they have to live with and want the beasts legally culled. I found it sort of boggling when I discovered that being “overrun” by bears equated to about 400 of them in the entire state. Of course, they aren’t evenly distributed, but clustered in the mountainous regions. A few years ago, a state legislator from one of the western districts introduced a bill (as a symbolic protest only, needless to say) mandating that bears should be introduced into every county in the state. In other words, “if you like bears so much, take some of ours.”

Some people in our own area complain about deer nibbling on their garden plants. We have deer in the park adjacent to our neighborhood, but they seldom wander onto residential streets, and we’ve never caught them grazing in our yard, so I still get a small thrill at a glimpse of a deer. Nevertheless, I can sort of understand the attitude of people who call them “rats with hooves”—while I don’t like the idea of having them killed unless they’re going to be eaten. In some cases, I tend to think the animals were here first, so we should adjust to them, not vice versa. Opportunistic species such as deer, however, have infiltrated some spaces where they didn’t live before we created attractive habitats for them.

A thought-provoking example of the quandaries we face in adjusting to “aliens” among us right here on present-day Earth.

We have a fox that sometimes takes refuge under our house. (Unless it's different foxes every time.) He or she makes odd noises but doesn't do any harm.

By the way, I recently launched my first foray into Kindle self-publication, DAYMARES FROM THE CRYPT, a small collection of horror and fantasy verse I produced in print many years ago. It contains the thirteen poems from the original chapbook plus three “bonus” pieces and has a lovely, eerie cover. It’s priced at 99 cents, the lowest Amazon allows:

Daymares from the Crypt

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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