Aldo Leopold said, “All conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish.” I thought these were pretty powerful words when I read them over and over a few times. I wondered what many consider to be one of the forefathers of Wildlife Management meant by it. Are our purposes that are meant to be good, working against our objective? The thought rode out until I realized that what he might have meant was for us to touch and use our resources with prudence and not conserve wilderness into extinction. All of this stemming from some rather compelling conversation with our podcast engineer and long time friend “Radio Jim”, who from Atlanta seems to have his finger on the pulse of an initiative playing out in Rocky Mountain National Park.
RMNP was my playground for many years as a researcher, student, photographer and tour guide and I have always felt it was the epitome of conservation in excess. Leopold could well have been looking into his own crystal ball and seeing an overpopulation of elk being “seen and fondled” to the point of now needing the use of “Professional Hunters” (where do I sign up for that gig?) to reduce the inventory in the park and deliver the harvested meat to the community at large. Is there a lesson in all of this, or is love truly blind and that includes human to elk relationships? There actually is nothing more dangerous than ignorance in action and total conservation is exactly that. Hunting is a management tool and when that tool is restricted or completely forbidden the result becomes what is playing out in Colorado. It took emaciation and disease to bring the thing to fruition, hopefully it will get the media coverage it deserves, and people will become better informed as to the taming of that herd to the point it has arrived at.
In 2009 make a commitment to teach someone about the outdoors, whether it is a young person, your neighbor a classroom or a group from your outdoor club, so we can start to impact these things before they get this far.
When there is nothing else, I have always had the outdoors to fall back on for balance. When The collective consciousness of downward spiral really seems to be perpetuating the spin around us in the economy, take the time to go out and rebalance and get on the thought train that things are not as bad as the media is portraying and help be a part of getting things back on track by being positive. I don’t know about you, but when I get in the wilderness for an hour or two, my mind is clear and ready to see things positively. It’s going to be my way of helping impact the negativity and what a great excuse to go afield.
Hopefully our January installment can be an indoor breath of fresh air for you as we move into the new year with anticipation of getting out in it all. This issue is packed with really great material to help you feed your addiction . We have ice fishing, wildlife health and nutrition information, urban survival and even a story from a first time deer harvest by a gal from the big woods of Pennsylvania. I hope you enjoy it, the work as always was fun and rewarding to deliver it to the site.
The staff and Management from Water and Woods would like to thank you for your continued support of our network and wish you a safe, happy and successful time afield in 2009.