Research and Article by John Cox, MA
“A cardinal whistling spring to a thaw but later finding himself mistaken, can retrieve his error by resuming his winter silence. A chipmunk, emerging for a sunbath but finding a blizzard, has only to go back to bed. But a migrating goose, staking two hundred miles of black night on a chance of finding a hole in a lake, has no easy chance for retreat. His arrival carries the conviction of a prophet who has burned his bridges.” – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac . . .
Decades ago I worked at a paper-mill, located along the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. Unknown by me at the time, I was a craftsman, and as artisans often do, we learn from just about everything we come in contact with. Whether or not it may become beneficial, no matter, as the objective is not of a contrived mind-set what so ever, but of unlimited curiosity. But it was, within this instance, certainly beneficial and ideological.
I worked in a section called Magnifite. Trees had already been received in another section of the mill, chipped-up in yet another section, four to sixteen tons of chips at a time, and brought to one of four huge chip tanks, 4 to 5 stories-tall, and called Digesters – and myself watching the charts and gauges. Chemicals were then included such as bromides, sulfurs, etc., to break the wood-chips down into processable fibers, or pulp, to eventually become a paper product – for example, butcher wrap paper, toilet paper, paper towels, grocery bags, etc. and all at the end of the process.
“It has come to the point we are outsmarting ourselves. Is education possibly the process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth? The goose who trades his, is soon a pile of feathers.” — Aldo Leopold
My job was to receive the pulp, which was sent to a wash, then to several different areas in the paper mill for further processing. The equipment in the mill was old. A couple of the Digesters, in raised relief steel lettering from that era, was “Built 1911” as seen on each side. Some of the measuring equipment for the holding tanks much newer, but not much. But at least the equipment I worked with, Foxboro Capacity Charts mostly, were very accurate for their age.
Often at the beginning of a shift I would make radical adjustments to the input and output of fiber product, or pulp. Of course, this upset the process entirely. But I was young, wanted things to run smoothly, and in my aggressive attempts to do so, in reality, it did not.
I learned over time that since the machinery old, it had a process-pattern all of its own. I simply had to find that acceptable process, then calmly and with all info available at the time, make minor adjustments suitable for different demands throughout that particular day; significant was the consideration toward each subordinate process, completion of the separate parts toward the whole system running smoothly, as it all was connected.
Yes, patients, with minor adjustments, then wait awhile, then another small adjustment if needed. This system worked, and it was a matter of definable patients. I could make life hard on myself, or much easier with forethought, knowing and acknowledging what I was seeing for necessity for the day, and patients – and the observation of others experience, as told to me.
Over Hunting and Persecution
Our previous North American continent had vast areas unsettled and many left unexplored. There existed cities and farms scattered everywhere and held together by an ever increasing network of railroads, roads, and telegraph wires. Also, the sudden settlement of the West Coast (catalyzed by the discovery of gold in California), the Civil War, the disappearance of eastern forests, an enormous influx of immigrants from Europe, Asia, and Africa, and the vast expansion of industry and technology, both growth and population exploded.
“From several references for that time passenger pigeons flew overhead in endless thundering flocks; salmon choked the rivers, to be pitch-forked out as fertilizer; huge herds of bison, antelope, and elk roamed the prairies; whales and seals yielded endless shiploads of oil to burn in lamps.” — Anon 1963
As a result, Americans assumed the supply of such creatures remained virtually infinite, a bounty to be harvested at any time for human use. Local depletion’s of wildlife were noted, but there was always more wildlife over the next range of hills; which, the thought pattern established at that time.
Even today, as odd as it sounds, yes ignorance prevails today, we find hunters, hobby-trappers, and ranchers making the statement that wolves, cougars, bears, and fox’s, wild horses and wildlife in general are “everywhere” — plentiful in the forests and mountains. That is, until we attempt to have them show us on a map, or show us in general where they are located or roam. Wildlife today, in the forests and mountains — in facts and truthfully (those of us who are in the forests and mountains always see this), is becoming very limited, almost scarce —
But some towns and states in century’s-past did try to impose hunting seasons on selected animals to give the game an opportunity to reproduce, but such laws were rarely enforced. More common was the payment of bounties on predators, such as the bounties of one penny each given for wolves by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. This was an era of local extinctions where forests were cleared and streams were dammed. (References numerous)
This increase in human population, combined with the technology of the early industrial era, and the demands of a market economy, caused wildlife populations to plummet from a combination of unchecked exploitation and environmental alteration. Some examples:
•The vast migratory herds of bison on the Great Plains were systematically slaughtered or died of cattle-borne diseases until only a few hundred individuals were left.
•The passenger pigeon, whose numbers were once reckoned to be in the billions, became extinct in the wild. Both adults and young were harvested commercially. The last bird died in captivity in 1914.
•Heron and egret populations were decimated by hunters shooting them in their breeding colonies for plumes for ladies’ hats.
•The ranges of large predators such as grizzly bears, mountain lions, and wolves became greatly reduced. Mountain lions and wolves were virtually eliminated from eastern North America, as were grizzly bears from California.
•White-tailed deer became extremely scarce in the eastern United States through a combination of habitat loss and over-hunting.
•Runs of salmon and shad disappeared from many eastern rivers, their runs blocked by mill dams or killed by factory wastes in combination with unlimited fishing.
The massive-killing of wildlife is not really surprising, considering the attitudes of most people living in that era, which were largely characteristic of the combined agricultural situations and early industrial society of the times. Nature was regarded as something that got in the way of civilization and “progress”, and a source of goods to sell on the market.
“At one time there existed an extraordinary amount of wildlife in the Midwestern section of the United States. This included many species of unique wildlife, as well as wild horses before the Spanish come to America, seemingly ignored by many Spanish and European historians. The amount exceeded Africa, even at that time. Many we will simply not know about, or of, as they were wiped out, Over-Kill to Extinction.” — Anon 1975 Over-Hunting and Persecution of America’s Wildlife (note i.e. wild horses, currently paleontologists and archaeologist site-digs are confirming this fact of wild horse presence, and indeed never left America’s wilds, discussed further in the following paper, part 2)
Conclusion — Historical Facts Undeniable
The agricultural mindset, not so much different than today, I have found, was often frightened, paranoid, by the abundant wild animals and uncontrolled wild ecosystems. And as today, yesterday and history, they thought nature had to be tamed and controlled. Many popular nature books of those times, and as today in the current media, were filled with drawings of animals doing nasty things to people or to each other – bears clawing hunters, eagles carrying off children, deer goring one another, land crabs attacking goats, wolves eating just about everything and everyone in sight, and much more ridiculous contrivance.
But need we not forget those times, when people also feared witches and burned them at the stake, or drowned them; legends of monsters in the mountains or woods abounded, within remote settlements; and basically what people at that time, as now, did not or do not understand, people fear. Fear is the driving force for wildlife extinction – nothing else, but people find excuses to promote their fears and often within very tragic methodology, or perceptive mind-sets.
To indeed acknowledge that rancher’s and hunters have not evolved into the 21st Century is getting to be an undeniable joke of jokes – a very destructive joke – and needs changed.
Is it possible to have progress with a healthy surviving ecological system, with healthy wildlife as well? I would state as fact, a healthy wildlife system a requirement!
The problem is we have a backward ranching culture; thereby, a backward wildlife management culture as well, and from State to State as well as Federal – for example, one government agency kills 1.5 to 5.8 million animals (wildlife), mostly from rancher’s fears and not based on any type of factual reality, in America currently.
“. . . during this era, attitudes that led to the uninhibited destruction of wildlife and wildlife habitat became established. Specifically, the cattle and sheep ranching and hunters view, that nature needed to be tamed and put to use, allowed the widespread destruction of wildlife seen in the next following centuries to come, and fit in well with the demands of the emerging industrial economy.” — Aldo Leopold
The rancher, hunter, game management lies remain abundant, as the public is simply not out there to see, for example, the coming and goings of wolves, beavers, cougars, bears or much of anything for that matter; whereas, the public is going to hear about it, but only one side of the story, that mostly favors the rancher and hunters 99% of the time, but exaggeration within amplification of detail or a vast amount of misinformation . . .
A typical cattle rancher of today is not knowledgeable of any wildlife, other than the wildlife they want killed, or kill for their barbecues. Ranchers nor hunters are, or ever have been, conservationists nor have they ever been environmentalists, and history is quite clear of this fact. As a matter of point within this paper, both groups have pointedly hated conservationists and environmentalists, for at least the past century or even two centuries.
The fact remains that money, comfort, and a special vented self-proclaimed interest of ranchers, hunters, and industry, do exceed Humane Principles destructively — today, yesterday, and centuries past.
Humans have not learned a thing within the history of wildlife and our presence in decimating wildlife – now we are reaching the end, extinction, of many critical wildlife domestically, and upon an international basis; and yes, this does and will have a proportional effect on our environment and on our very life on this planet. (continued in Part 2 – The Kill-off of Wild Horses and America’s Wildlife)
1. An endangered species is one whose numbers are so small that it is at risk of extinction.
2. A species is defined as endangered or threatened when it is suffering from these factors: damage to its habitat for recreational, or entertainment purposes; disease or predation of the species; and hazards to the continued life of the species.
3. A species is declared extinct after many years of not being spotted. Because it takes so long to define an entire species as extinct, it is probable that there are many species already gone that we are unaware of.
4. Rangers are on the frontlines of conservation to protect some of the world’s most endangered species like tigers, elephants and rhinos. Send thank-you cards to those who protect endangered species. Sign up for Wildlife Cards!
5. Extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the “background” rate, with dozens going extinct every day.
6. As many as 30 to 50 percent of all species are possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century.
7. 99% of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities, primarily those driving habitat loss, introduction of exotic species, and global warming
8. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) protects registered endangered species by removing them from the “take” list, which makes it unlawful for a person to shoot, harm, capture, trap, or attempt any such actions to the species.
9. Ultimately, the ESA strives to recover species from the endangered list by restoring their ecological health until they no longer need protection.
10. The World Wildlife Organization focuses on saving certain species that help sustain other species. They protect wildlife such as pandas, whales, rhinos, marine turtles, primates, polar bears, and big cats.
11. Freshwater ecosystems are home to more than 100,000 known species of plants and animals, and are now one of the most endangered habitats in the world as a result of human development, pollution, and climate change.
1. Wildscreen Arkive. “Endangered species.” Wildscreen. Web Accessed March 20, 2015.
2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program. “Listing a Species as Threatened or Endangered: Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act” 2015. Web Accessed March 20, 2015.
3. Engber, Daniel. “When can you say an animal is extinct?” Slate Magazine, 2005. Web Accessed March 20, 2015.
4. World Wildlife Fund. “Thanking Our Heroes: Rangers Put Their Lives on the Line Every Day to Protect Wildlife.” 2014. Web Accessed March 20, 2015.
5. Center for Biological Diversity. “The Extinction Crisis.” Web Accessed March 20, 2015.
6. Center for Biological Diversity. “The Extinction Crisis.” Web Accessed March 20, 2015.
7. Center for Biological Diversity. “The Extinction Crisis” Web Accessed March 20, 2015.
8. Davison, Steven G. “Alteration Of Wildlife Habitat As A Prohibited Taking Under The Endangered Species Act.” The Florida State University College of Law. Web Accessed March 20, 2015.
9. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service . “Endangered Species Consultation Handbook.” 1998. Web Accessed March 20, 2015.
10. World Wildlife Fund. “About Us.” Web Accessed March 20, 2015.
11. World Wildlife Fund. “Habitats: Freshwaters.” Web Accessed March 20, 2015.
December 28, 2015 at 9:10 pm
Sadly, the above is all factual & proven. So many species of plants & animals have become extinct daily for years – and more and more every year. Too many people living in towns & cities who have no idea of nature and wildlife. I want my great grandchildren to be able to SEE wild animals & to understand their place in this world. Technology is fine, but many children AND adults can see no farther than their phones! Theres a whole world out there if they just look.
December 29, 2015 at 12:05 am
We have a nation regulated by agency policy and U.N Agenda 21 for the purpose of rural cleansing. All grazing and ranching must go…pitting ranchers against wild horse and burro herds. A no win for either.
December 30, 2015 at 4:09 pm
Seems humans are not making any progress towards civilization at all. Most are still just greedy barbarians IMO lacking compassion and empathy.I recommend the documentary, Cowspiracy, the Substainability Secret.
January 1, 2016 at 12:10 am
Everything in the natural world is connected. An ecosystem is a community of living and non-living things that work together.
There was an old song when I was a kid that childishly explained the importance of each part and how they are all connected …
Toe bone connected to the foot bone
Foot bone connected to the heel bone
Heel bone connected to the ankle bone
Ankle bone connected to the shin bone … and on and on …
A healthy ecosystem must have ALL parts and the loss of wild horses and burros and cougars and wolves and bears and porcupines and coyotes and squirrels and birds and trees and soil and on and on causes a disconnect in nature and is an unhealthy ecosystem.