We conduct our research, in the field, or, in the mountains, from several situations. It assists us in getting accurate data retrieval from the field. We call it establishing a Baseline. Inclusive of Transect Markers, and a firm knowledge of the wildlife we track. Baseline is also our disposition, our dynamic of obtaining data for further interpretation toward statistical data and research.
Baseline in this case, refers to our experience as well as ability to interpret data gathered intuitively, and accurately. Or, as some phrase it, putting the pieces of the puzzle together. . .
A good example of establishing a Baseline: There is a difference from one species to another, which we already acknowledge. But do we pay attention to these differences? This is exemplified from the Baseline of a Coyote gait, is a trot; compared to the Baseline of a Bear, which is a walk; compared to a Cougar, which is a stroll.
Variances also exist, which experience shows us quite well, and the Bobcat, for example – one Bobcat from another Bobcat, may have a difference in their Baseline of personal gaits, or access to small critters compared to mid-sized critters. This variance could be the cause of many things and how a species acts, the reason why they do, how they do it, and what they eat; but, for here, it does exist, and much different than what people in the city know or acknowledge. Yes, Perceptions that have no bearing on the reality of what is ongoing, out here and in the field.
This article is to point out what we refer to as, Perceptive Bias. Yes, a big difference, between how people raised and live most of their life in cities, and those raised in the country that selected wildlife and Nature, as an observable plain of reference when observation conducted. Essentially, Our Baseline.
Here we do not require a book to tell us what it is we see (books wrong 50% of the time and written by flatlanders most often – city folks, or the unaware), but rather what experience tells us. We read the spore, or tracks, scat if around, et al., and decipher the activity, or history, that took place in this exact location – how many species involved, what transpired, and what was the result, verbatim.
In our Western experience, or culture, a Baseline experience is an entirely different realm. Many differences between West Coast mind-sets and East Coast mind-sets, and all points in between. Human population densities make a very large difference, at times, within habitat development, habitat use, or Habitat management/Wildlife management paradigms.
Fencing on the East coast quite dominant, for example, and pastures and trails limited. Heavy population of humans, compared to land-availability for wildlife, and we see an entirely different mind-set in the matters of management, of livestock, horses, and deer as well. The density of human population a driving force for a Captured-Management style of dynamic required there, for all wildlife and livestock combined. Entirely different than the West Coast or Western 11 States that manage Wild Horses – tremendously different.
Wildlife Dynamics and Baseline Movement
Wolves, for example, their Baseline is either resting, which they do most of the time, and why we see their family-pack cohesive, and firm; or, they hunt, exerting themselves when need be (so much for the human bias perception, or ignorance, that wolves kill for entertainment) for the pack. This is true with many species of wildlife, and most never exert themselves unless a need to do so exists. This is a functioning state of Baseline, or a stress-free style of living; which, is Nature’s way of building a link, so to speak, between the surrounding environmental complex and the species involved. Wildlife are a very aware species on this planet. Wolves no exception, and strong family packs are considered normal behavior, and geared toward survival. Irrationality is placing Wolves in jeopardy, as the flaming perceptive ignorance of Wolves having no value in Wildlife management Paradigms, is just wrong, as well as irresponsible.
Establishing and understanding of “Place” is the discussion here. Understanding through observation, over long periods of time, is the bases toward richness, or what we call “knowledge”. This is the beginning of understanding, in particular, how all is connected, and the entire relationship of wildlife, the predators, the prey — scenario: an antelope starts its day alert, ready to go, and run, when need be, hopefully faster than the predator giving chase, in order to survive. The lion starts its day, knowing it must be faster than its prey, in order to survive.
In large townships, or the city, the bias becomes compounded. Then it is not only the matter of asphalt and concrete, and large buildings, but neighborhood environments. Some people, within their neighborhood, get up in the morning, then look outside. Have their coffee and breakfast, get dressed, go out and hop in their car, and off they go into an entirely different environment in the city. . . upon paved roads, stoplights, sidewalks, decorative bushes and some decorative trees, a lot or a few people around always, and dependent upon the time of day.
Thoughts of Nature transpire, or their perception of Nature, or will think of themselves a Survivor in Nature. After all, the Hollywood actor in the movie, survived in the mountains, so it must be easily done. But this is what city-folks know, to be true. The rest of Nature is seen, wither on television, or written about in books, or news articles, or bulletins, and now we also have social media – whereas none of it is completely accurate, what so ever, and often, if at all.
The negative side of this is obvious. Survival in the mountains or the desert is not easily done. One’s GPS breaks down or runs out of battery. Many folks from the city short-minded, and do not carry a compass. Often, we discover, those who do carry a compass, simply have no idea how to use them; and, oh yes, have no map – or, have a colorful fun-map type brochure, that is an advertisement-only, and the map within it totally useless. Who gets called-out to find them when they are lost? The Search & Rescue men and women, on horseback most often, and those who live in those areas, me included.
So why bring all of this up. Because opinions are fine. But when it gets down to it, experience and the reality of true-boots-on-the-ground required. It is rough out here for those of us that live here, as we know the positives and the negatives.
We learn to cope with the positives within a positive way. Writing about this is not a condescending styled information outlet, but showing how Perceptual Bias, from city folks toward Nature and the country, is a true form of ignorance. We know better when we catch the scent/stench of a Snake-Den, to approach slowly, with caution (as a Cougar on the hunt),with stealth, and a level of heightened awareness – same with the stench of Timber-Rattlers – yes, we have them here.
A Good Example of the travesty: Getting slip-shod information from DOI/BLM, a corrupted government agency, and leaders in false-narratives and outright lies, is what East Coast writers do. This can only be explained one way – like going 20 miles into the woods for the first time, and having no map, no GPS, no Compass, and expecting to find your way back to civilization. Expecting something positive, or to develop from slip-shod information is a travesty, and worse when repeated time and again, and supposing a resolution to develop.
I am not using this situation to condemn, nor condone people on the East Coast. I am merely, academically, explaining the difference in information, and how it is used, and how disconnected the East Coast is from the West Coast. And of course, experience and hands-on actions, in the field of operation, gives us the means to acquire good information – truthful information.
A developed second-sense toward what we observe, is the catalyst for this type of information, that indeed resolves issues. . . Our Baseline explained – our information and all that goes with it, from years of experience and seeing the situations we discuss thousands of times over those years – and we know what it is we see and have the ability to explain it easily.
Wildlife and Myth
Let’s look at Wildlife, and the myth about them. Bear and Cougar being rabid killers of people? Nope. And you will discover, in Oregon for example, no deaths have occurred from Cougar attacks, even though a lot of city people want you to suppose so. The same with Bear, and those people who get between a Bear cub and the mother Bear – or a person gets between an Apex Predator and their fresh kill of meat. Yes, problems occur, but if one knows how to avoid this, or sees the situation start to play-out in front of them, and with experience, everything turns out okay, “if” . . .
There is an order of business in Nature. Like the process of people in the city going to work, eating lunch in a restaurant and food prepared for them, or at the bar and have their drinks made for them. None of that exists out here in the country. It’s all self-done – if you didn’t bring it with you (packed-in), then your out of luck. The same when you did not notice a Bear Track, or Cougar Track, and walk around a bend, and there you are, looking straight into their eye’s, looking at you.
Out here it is the experience, and not the last book you read on Nature, or survival, that may discuss how to do this or that . . . People out here, through years of experience, recognize their Baseline. We can sit within the baseline of a place, area, or observation point, and know how the connection exists, naturally. This also tells us the history, the prominent actions that take place here, and the realm of wildlife that lives here, or passes through here.
We begin to see with the same eyes and feel the same desires as the animals, the birds, the possum, the beaver up the creek, or the deer that just ran through the woods in front of our location, then disappeared. We know the reason why, or why not. It is the goal of energy conservation and avoidance of danger that guides our Baseline – not any coincidence it is the same as wildlife. We become part of what they are, and just as all is connected, our connection with them “complete” so to speak. All of this, makes those of us that Holistically Track Wildlife for research or to photograph, becomes common knowledge to us. We walk the woods as they walk the woods.
Baseline Values and Dynamics
Our society of today does not consider Baseline to be of value. Or I should phrase it a little differently, to understand correctly, and say, “the Natural Progression of things surrounding us.” Unless you experience it, consistently, and over large amounts of time, and sometimes efforts involved tremendous, one has no way of knowing. A car door slamming – a Bobcat would take-flight, and for several reasons. You and I, handle it without a flinch. Much of the city agitation we just handle, also without a flinch, or approach with caution in some instances – and must tolerate it.
The fact is, becoming sensitive to your own Baseline behaviors, can and often does and through experience, creates far more empathy for the animals I and others track, or see throughout the day. his helps us understand and even predict, animal behavior.
This morning and during coffee, and posting things on the Internet, I watched a Mother Bear and her Cub pass through the yard about 20 yards from me, and my back porch. A few days ago, I turned toward one of the tree stands here on my property, just in time to see the light tan and black tip tail of a cougar, run into the trees, about 30 yards from my back porch – I assume he was quietly watching me and the dogs while on the porch. I have horses, so the electric fencing between the log-rails on the corrals, are for security purposes, from my perception and experience, to do so. My tractor has a cage on the front, to not only keep me safe, but the engine safe from falling Hay Bales, or whatever else I have in the bucket.
Experience, Our Baseline indeed, gives us an auto-response mechanism within our brain, to do things automatically, and much faster than those who must think about it first. Same with horses, and having the knowledge to react spontaneously, over time, and establish our Baseline with the horse. This is Experience. Without it, horses die. Without it, humans may get injured or die – no guess work here, as these are very rugged mountains, and the wildlife is huge, more often than not.
With experience, we see the information to our front, our senses take hold, and make those cues meaningful. Yes, it happens quick, but our response mechanism in our brains snap-quick to the occurrence. It may have been a harsh outcome, but with experience, it becomes a Natural circumstance, or sensory awareness situation. Baseline and establishing it, especially in Nature, which takes a long time to accomplish, is well worth the time involved.
August 26, 2022 at 9:42 pm
Very comprehensive article / well written and directed. Thank you John.