Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Yellowstone ... Controversy?

Winter Landscape, Yellowstone Park, February, 2007

It seems my post of Adventures of a Wolf Watcher has drawn some fire. But that is what makes for interesting blogging. There is nothing like a good discussion. Whether we all agree or not is of little importance. The point is that we talk ... listen ... share our views. The older I get the more I appreciate how many differing views there are about just about everything.

In her posting of March 22, 2007, Watch Wolves Watch You, Skyblu launches an attack at two blogs, one of them mine (on the site go to "Don't Believe It's True? Click Here"). Skyblu's opinion of visitors to and the management of Yellowstone is scathing. Read it for yourself.

Ranting can be good. Ranting can make you feel better. But what ranting doesn't do is make you think clearly and it often doesn't paint a sane picture of the ranter. Believe me, I know, I've been there!

Skyblu's frustration is evident and she probably wouldn't believe me, but I agree with much of what she has to say. Yellowstone National Park is NOT wilderness ... the wolves are "wild" but they are habituated to humans ... they are collared so that they can be tracked and studied ... the National Park Service charges an entrance fee to the park and there are "guides" that you pay who will find the wolves for you or just about any other animal, mineral or vegetable that you are interested in viewing.

My husband and I went on our trip arranged by Natural Habitat Adventures. The guides, qualified biologists, were great in every way ... respectful of the animals as well as the 10 other individuals in our group. We talked often of the reality of wilderness, living simply, living wild, what the government is doing to help or hinder the situation, what each of us can do to change the ways of this screwy world and how we can be agents of change. We did do some hiking off the road to see the wolves. Most of us in the group with the exception of one person, were well over the age of 40. One was 80+. We did not harass the animals, throw our trash out the van windows or behave poorly in any other way.

Yes, I hated the snowmobiles and noise they create, even the "quieter" ones allowed within the park. I hate that the wolves are collared. I hate that the wolves were eradicated from the park in the first place and I hate that we, human beings, with our big brains have the hutzpah to think we can reintroduce wolves back into the area and expect them to be wild, when all we do is manage, manage, manage. But personally, I don't know a better way and I was there to see for myself what we have done.

I chose to go on this trip because I had never seen Yellowstone, and yes, I LOVE NATURE! I am a naturalist and have been a guide at the Ivy Creek Natural Area in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I ushered small groups of school children and adults through the area to show them what "wilderness" is all about in this neck of woods, on the East Coast of America, where urban growth is off the charts and isn't seeing a slowdown. The "Board of Supervisors" here in Albemarle County seems to approve, almost weekly, one more subdivision of 5oo homes. We don't have enough water for the people who already live here. There are big plans to expand one of the reservoirs and pipe water from it into another ... but it's years in the making and no one actually knows how well that will really work and whether it will be enough for the population by the time it is finally in use.

We need to accept that the world is a different place than it was and that it will never be the same again. We are in a planetary crisis. There are simply too many of us humans and we all to often seem to think we know what is good for the rest of the masses. This is not the time for ranting. This is a time for discussion, for teaching, for learning and for being respectful not only to wolves or polar bears, but to a other people. Change comes with education, hard work and acceptance of what we have to deal with.


deirdre said...

I'm getting some catchup reading done on your blog - I've been on vacation and missed the last few posts. Your pictures are amazing and what you've written is important.

As for the blogger who needed to hold your posts up for ridicule, you're right, it's not reasoned discussion but a rant filled with finger-pointing and self-righteousness.

It's true wild animals are too often socialized to people. I've seen too many people feed deer thinking they're doing the animal a favor when in fact all they accomplish is dulling the natural fear that keeps them safe from us. But the only way people, as a whole, will learn to respect nature is to find ways for the ordinary person to get out into it and see what is there. If this is done respectfully and carefully I just don't see the harm.

I'm glad you had a wonderful adventure and have brought back pictures to share. I haven't been to Yellowstone and will enjoy seeing it through your eyes.

Jim Macdonald said...

Hi, I've been very busy and wanted to respond to you and give you my sense of things (since I've been on the periphery of this discussion as well and you posted something to my blog, but I appreciate you have taken the time to write this. I've posted it in the opinion section of the Yellowstone Newspaper

Back to work,