Today I stood starring into the eyes of a collared bobcat in the Santa Monica Mountains. To my left was a Great Horned Owl with big golden eyes, flapping his wingspan above me- so close I was captivated by this beautiful essence of wildlife.
I was ironically just outside of Los Angeles and in the midst of a breath-taking environment straight out of a post card. In the far distance, I could hear cars humming on the freeway. I was so close to these animals which is much closer than I would be near my own home in the Rocky Mountains. I felt sense of sadness come over me that here they were in all their glory- trapped in a pocket surrounded by over development, Starbucks, homes and McDonald’s. If only Los Angeles had more of this I thought. What a place it would be!
I had access to a biologist with a tracking collar on this beautiful beast of feline but then would find myself meeting with THE ONLY WILDLIFE person in the ENTIRE CITY of well over 9 million people. How could it be that I get more complaints from pet owners worried about their yorki in the hills of L.A. and yet only one person held such a position in a city so large?In some sense, it feels unbalanced.
How is it that we care more about our domestic companions than our wild ones? I can remember giving a wildlife lecture here a couple of years ago that I could count the number of people attending on one hand yet with dogs, it was a full house. For every person out there donating to a dog, cat or horse sanctuary there are all too few wild animal sanctuaries going down the tubes. Don’t get me wrong- please support our domestics but caring for our wildlife is just as important and understanding how to KEEP IT WILD is more important now more than ever.
I often find it ironic that if a person is stung by bees doing what they naturally do, no one is called to the scene to investigate the bee’s bad choice in behavior. Yet, if a coyote, mountain lion, bear, wolf, etc. has put one claw mark (or even just chased or charged in some cases), that predator has to be immediately killed. Is this saying that animals should be treated differently?
Human beings need to understand what it means to live in harmony with nature. It is the common bind that keeps us in good/bad, evil or angelic- you can either love nature too much or not care about it at all.
Nature and “wildness” runs through your blood as much as it runs through the super model’s blood on a New York, fashion runway. Our very connection to the earth and protecting it is mis-understood by many people. Feeding any form of wildlife will eventually lead to that animal’s death. Not caring about wildlife will lead to more animals and land disappearing. We are entering a new time of awareness & awakening that I believe will connect us back to our humanness as an animal and to our past.
Right now as I type, more log homes are being built in mountain ranges, more hotels and ski resorts. The smog levels in our National Parks will rise this summer unbelievably from lines of cars taking pictures and engines idling. People want more nature and with the internet, more people are expanding outwards from cities to get it. However, did you know that you are actually creating less wear on the environment by living in a city and staying closer to a local grocery store, coffee shop and dry cleaner? Have you considered that by feeding wildlife, you are habituating the animal off it’s natural food sources which raises other animal’s population rates as well as causing them to become aggressive towards humans from expecting their food?
Did you know that we have been slowly affected by light and noise pollution near urban developments similar to some wildlife being affected? (Try to concentrate on the sounds around you right now like the refrigerator humming and you’ll know what I’m talking about).
The more we take over, the farther we keep pushing these animals right out of their homes. They have no choice but to either adapt or leave. Corridors for wildlife are becoming non existent and coyotes frequently come up to beg for food. What makes the earth beautiful is it’s land, oceans and the wild creatures that live beside us. We have all but destroyed most and those that are left are falling off the map everyday.
The earth will always be here but in the end it will come down to humans being able to surpass our own destruction. It starts with education in how to co-exist not only with our planet but the land and it’s beings as well. We are not superior to non-humans. In fact, I feel strongly that most are here to teach us more about ourselves. They are the intelligent ones and have lasted far longer in some cases than us homo-sapiens who are still developing.
I fear that unless we have a greater & kinder appreciation for what is left out there, there will be nothing left for our children and there children. If you haven’t already, join a cause that incorporates these important topics. Teach your children about the earth and all it’s inhabitants and not to try to control it.
If we are to make a change, that change starts individually and spreads- YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.