Oct 25, 2005
Conservation, by Any Other Name
"From roots to canopy, the native forest of Blaire Creek [preserve in New Jersey] is withering under a plague of white-tailed deer. So this fall, the Conservancy will enlist emergency help. The rescue crew will report for work early, dressed in blaze-orange vests and carrying rifles.
If that image seems incongruous with the idea of preserving nature, it should be noted that the Blair Creek hunt is nothing unusual. At refuges around the world, ecowrecking animals--from hyperabundant deer to rainforest-rototilling pigs to seabird-slaughtering rats--are being lethally controlled.
In many places where humans have upended the ecological balance, they confront an uncomfortable necessity in righting their wrongs: Taking individual lives to defend the diversity of life itself.
...Conservationists who face feral pigs in traps remember that elsewhere in the Hawaiian forest live the rarest of birds suffering slow deaths from a pox the pigs have helped spread... In New Jersey they are forced to look beyond Bambi's face in the rifle sight, to the surrounding overpruned forest.
What conservationists remind themselves not to see is the pig and deer as villains, but as creatures whose unlucky lot was to end up in a place where their own death must be weighted against the ultimate suffering of another species' extinction.
...After years of vigilant protection from the pigs, scoured jungles of the Hawaiian highlands are once again lushly carpeted in ferns and singing with Hawaiian birds. Those now defending the New Jersey woods with rifles have parallel visions in mind. As much as they may love deer--albeit in smaller numbers--they love orchids and forests, too.
---William Stolzenberg, from "So Others Might Live", the August 2004 Science Matters column in Nature Conservancy (published by The Nature Conservancy)
*Photo PGC/Hal Korber
That's one of the reasons I love TNC so much. They are able to tackle complicated ecological issues without resorting to sloganeering.
Posted by: Tim | Oct 31, 2005 10:12:34 PM