I feel quite confident in saying that a majority of you either made resolutions or at least considered making some changes for the new year. Unfortunately, if you're like most people, what you resolved will be little more than a memory by the time Spring arrives. I suspect the reason failure is so common is that in the heat of good intentions, we set rather unrealistic goals. Hopefully the goal I settled on is somewhat the same as I adopt every year, and that is to try to motivate people into taking a more informed and active role in conservation.
Generally speaking, how we perceive what occurs in our outdoor world and natural environment thereof has been steadily changing as our demographics have drifted from rural to more urban or suburban mindsets and lifestyles. Whereas previous generations often spent the majority of their time working or being in the outdoors, more recent ones have spent much of their lives in a man-made or otherwise manicured environment, visiting the totally natural world primarily on vacations or short visits. Most youngsters' knowledge of the natural world now comes via television or public school programs with precious little “on hands” learning.
What has also helped confuse the issue is the tremendous growth, both in wealth and media power, of the animal rights extremist and protectionist groups. All too often they preach total protectionism rather than conservation and wise management of natural resources as they apply to species. This of course is in direct conflict with how nature operates, and has operated for eons. Using guilt and misinformation, the most powerful of these groups have made major inroads into our nation's psyche, and especially youths and environmentally naive urban residents.
Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that our natural world is no longer truly natural. We've changed it drastically since the very first settlers arrived. Today's outdoor world consists of a mixture of human modified outdoor environments — cities, towns, highways, commercial plazas, agricultural areas — that have displaced what were once all natural ones. Nature does the best it can to adapt to the changes we've forced on it, but those abilities have limits, so help is needed to avoid what otherwise could be a disastrous situation. That help comes in the form of needed conservation measures to allow nature to keep some semblance of balance in a vastly modified outdoor world.
Just as it’s done for millions of years, nature annually produces an overabundance of almost all species, both fauna and flora, since historically a rather high percentage won't survive and will succumb to predation, starvation, depredation or disease. While cruel in human terms, this is basically nature's conservation approach to ensure each species' survival at the expense of individual mortality. What we've created is an unnatural surplus in the availability of support items such as food supplies and security that allows some species' numbers to exceed what would be annual natural mortality levels. This has a ripple effect on many other species, both of flora and fauna type.
An overabundance of deer can decimate many species of flora the animals feed on. And the underabundance of food-type flora will negatively impact other species, either immediately or in the long term. An unnaturally high density of predators can decimate effected prey species to the point those same predator numbers will decline dramatically. And disease in any species is nature's last resort in conserving the species' future as a whole...