By Mary Katherine Ray,
Chapter Wildlife chair
The challenges to nature are daunting. The climate is changing. There are forces at work trying to sow doubt about the worldwide physical evidence that humans are causing these changes or, if we are, that we need not address them by altering the way we as a species and as individuals operate. Polluting industries, in their PR campaigns of obstruction, are following the model of deception pioneered by tobacco companies denying the health impacts of smoking.
Wildlife, especially carnivores, struggle in a world crowded with humans, where the biomass of one species, our own, exceeds that of all other living wild land vertebrates on earth combined.
Yet in our state there are factions that cannot tolerate the existence of more than a few hundred wolves. The wild places that wild creatures call home are under perpetual threat of exploitation. The latest scheme to persuade people that our nation’s public lands should be turned over to individual states to do with as they please is a ploy for industry to gain access to drill, mine, log and otherwise render Nature in all her vibrant glory into nothing more than numbers in quarterly earnings reports printed on a page.
And yet … there is still so much to celebrate. Nature, despite our abuse, is resilient. We have come to the close of another monsoon season when all it takes for the desert to burst in grass green and wildflower color is a little rain. You can find cause for celebration in all the creatures who still manage to survive and thrive, from beetles to birds, rabbits to coyotes. You can find cause for celebration right in your backyard with the migration of hummingbirds, the less obvious warblers and year-round resident wrens and flickers.
Take heart. Take time to be out under the sky and under the trees. Listen for the songs. Put down the phone, step away from the computer, turn off the TV. The beauty is still everywhere. On the original 9/11 of 2001, I had to do just that after the incomprehensible horror of those collapsing buildings. I walked out onto the back porch, and two ravens flew just over the trees, cawing joyfully to each other. In their world that morning, there was no crashing, no exploding, no senseless destruction. For a moment, I stepped into that world and the reality that is bigger than we are.
Pay attention, volunteer, donate, vote; do what you can to stand up against the polluters, the exploiters and the abusers, but don’t forget the rewards. Smell the balsam-sweet cottonwood trees whose leaves are starting to fall, tingle to hear the hawk scream, walk through a forest or along a stream and lose yourself to the quest for a glimpse of a yellow warbler whose travels will take him to the tropics and back again without burning a single drop of gasoline.
Many have lamented that if we don’t fight for wilderness and wild places, we could lose them, and that is true. But an even worse tragedy would be to lose them without ever knowing them at all.
Have you found your wren today?