Saving the planet can be really heavy and heady stuff at times – so, occasionally it’s good to step back from the edge, enjoy a laugh or two, and appreciate what all the fuss is about. And then get back to work.
For some enjoyable weekend reading, I’d commend a recent article by Caitrin Nicol over at the New Atlantis titled Do Elephants Have Souls? Thought provoking and it’s definitely stirred some controversy.
Great success story on the recovery of California’s endangered Island Fox, also known as Santa Cruz’s dwarf fox that resides in California’s Channel Islands. In 1999, there were only 85 of these little guys in existence, and after being listed in 2004 under the Endangered Species Act, today, there are over 2,500, as being reported by National Geographic. The predatory culprit in this case was not humans, but rather the golden eagle, although turns human activity resulted in a chain of events that almost lead to the demise of this beautiful creature. Golden eagles began migrating to the Island during the 1990s to feed on an explosion of feral pigs, and the fox made for an opportune snack. According to NatGeo, Continue reading →
Props to Todd Gartner, of the World Resources Institute, and Laura Huggins, of the Property and Environmental Research Center, for joining efforts to promote innovative new ways to protect threatened and endangered species. Todd and Laura are bold new voices on leveraging markets to accelerate the protection of habitat loss for many species struggling for their continued existence.
This work is absolutely essential for protecting T&E species of which over 75 percent can be found on private lands. While the Endangered Species Act is an important piece of legislation, serving as a backstop from keeping species from being driven into extinction, ESA can also create perverse incentives to landowners who, rather than conserve critical habitat, quietly eliminate it before ESA locks down the uses and economic value of their property. These new market-based initiatives encourage landowners to take proactive steps to conserve habitat before species are required to be listed under ESA. Our goal as a society should must be to transform species protection into a positive rather than a negative. And the efforts of Todd and Laura are helping to change not only the economics but the dialogue and cultural valuation, which is even more important.
For those budding conservationists in high school or college in the U.S., or those with just a passing curiosity in the topic, I highlight an organization that helped to shape my interest and career in environmental stewardship, the Student Conservation Association, that you might want to consider. The SCA is not an environmental advocacy or lobby group – they do something more important. They help place young professionals in key internship opportunities that enable them to pursue an interest in environmental stewardship and conservation.
I first learned of this organization in 1988 when I was studying for a degree in wildlife management at the University of Maine Orono. After applying, I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work as a conservation intern for the National Park Service in Yellowstone National Park to participate in a predator-prey study leading up to the reintroduction of the wolves in Yellowstone. Here I am, all of 147 pounds on Druid Peak, with Mount Norris in the background in the Lamar Valley area of the Park after a long day of tracking elk (with a can of bear spray on my hip). My team and I spent several months tracking 50 yearling around the Park documenting and researching predation rates and causes, including black bear, grizzly, and coyote kills. Continue reading →
“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”
― Aldo Leopold
The work of John Mead – a science teacher, wildlife enthusiast and rising star in the world of wildlife photography. Based in Dallas, Texas, and college friend of my wife, Sheara Wall Fewell, from Duke, John is rightly gaining greater national recognition. Great blog and beautiful artwork, which words cannot begin to fully capture.
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, the stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
― Aldo Leopold
Another remarkable and highly accomplished wildlife artist, Richard Wear, from Canada, whose photography anyone would be so fortunate to have adorn their walls. (Thank you, Richard, for allowing me to share your work with your neighbors to the south) Can’t capture any better the stealth action and vivid colors of this Night Heron intent on its next meal. Also nick-named the “Night Raven” for its evening prowess and crow-like vocalization, you’ll recognize this smallish heron when you see or hear it.
“There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.”
― Aldo Leopold
Seek out and enjoy nature’s beauty and wild things around you.
Don Wagner’s wildlife and landscape photography – here he’s captured a wood duck drake. I don’t know Don, but I am blown away by his nature photography. The serenity and composition is extraordinary and the wildlife he captures appears ready at a moment’s notice to jump from the canvas.