23 days old / February 3rd, 2009 @ 9:32 pm /
I just finished a wonderful book on how settlement in the United States has changed the wildlife landscape. It’s an older book published in 1999. But with the wonders of book displays at the library I discovered it for the first time. The book is The Condor’s Shadow: the Loss and Recovery of Wildlife in America by David S. Wilcove with a foreword by Edward O. Wilson. The book provides an interesting portrait of the complexities of wildlife management and the deep, often misunderstood, ecological relationships between all lifeforms. One of these important relationships is between the predator and the prey. So what does killing off grizzly bears and wolves have to do with the endangerment of songbirds or native grasses? A lot. In the end Wilcove illustrates how little we understand about these relationships. Our ecological footprint is so large that we are often forced to intervene to save a species. For example, stepping in to save the black-footed ferret as its prey, the prairie dog, succombs to the plague. The prairie dog, itself, a victim of ever expanding urban and rural development. But any interference only seems to set off another imbalance, another unexpected chain of events.
It is interesting to recall that once in Johnson County, Kansas there were bison, pronghorn, elk, wolves, and grizzly bears. Bounties were placed on the predators and in a short period of time they became extinct. Is Johnson County a richer place without them? You would think that we would have learned from such short-sighted policies. But have we?
Listen to actress Ashley Judd as she speaks for Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund about the wildlife management policies of Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin’s Ongoing Wolf Slaughter