The deer move as freely through our little city at the foot of the big mountains as do my teenage kids on their skateboards and bikes. We all share this space, even if warily. As do the other longer-term denizens of the Animas Valley, home and byway for wildlife since the glaciers went back to the hills for more rocks 10 millenia ago. Still wandering through our town's alleys and taking residence in our privately-owned backyard pastures are, along the with usual assortment of rodents and varmits, more wild wildlife: bear, elk, coyotes, and mountain lion.
And it's not just here in the remote San Juan Country where this is happening: Wildlife are moving into and squatting on suburban and urban landscapes all over the country. And not without consequence, for both human and non.
The causes and implications of this re-wilding of our urban habitat was the subject of an interesting discussion yesterday on NPR's "On Point," with host Tom Ashbrook. The show looked at the question, "Are animals crowding humans, or is it the other way around? Is hunting the way to solve problems between people and animals?"
Guests discussing the issue on the show were:
- Matthew Teague, a journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, The Atlantic, and elsewhere. His article in the Nov. 24 issue of Sports Illustrated is “A More Dangerous Game: How the decline of hunting is changing the natural order of predator and prey.”
- Doug Inkley, a wildlife biologist for the National Wildlife Federation, specializing in ecology and wildlife management.
- John Rocchetta, a land steward who manages properties on Long Island.
- Brian Vincent, founder of Big Wildlife, an Oregon-based conservation group.
Here, too, is the recent excellent piece on the state of hunting by Matthew Teague in Sports Illustrated.