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Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013
Mother Nature will prevailPosted Thursday, September 1, 2011, at 11:13 AM
In the 1970s, New Zealand, overrun by European Red Deer (a close relative of elks), solved their deer problem by domesticating the wild herd. Photo by Steven Foster
Reminds me of a brief encounter with a young family while visiting Costa Rica last year. The young children were delighted to see real live toucans as if they had come to life and flown off of a cereal box. The delight turned to horror when the toucans swooped down to neighboring bird nests and used their long colorful beaks for the purpose for which Mother Nature designed them -- plucking cute fledgling birds out of a nest and ingesting then with a crunch and a single gulp.
Now, of course, I delighted to see cute little Bambi in my backyard this morning. The horror was that she was accompanied by a dozen of her inbred, emaciated, intent-on-eating-any-and-all-vegetation relatives.
Nature seeks her own balance. Predators that once made Eureka Springs home are gone. No bears, no big cats, few coyotes, no more top of the food-chain predators except for humans.
Eureka Springs is a city founded on the presence of its healing springs. And the humans who discovered the healing springs were hunters.
Nature seeks her own balance when humans refrain from interfering. Anyone who has been here for fifteen or sixteen years has seen the effect of eliminating hunting, which I would argue, despite all that is unseemly that we may associate with hunters and hunting, is a natural human activity. Our over-burdened deer population is not a creation of nature; it is a creation of humans.
Can we restore the natural balance? Instead of a one-time bow hunt, we might let two or three cougars, a couple of bears, and some hungry coyotes run loose in town long enough to solve the deer problem. Not a shot fired or an arrow launched; "No Hunting" is kept sacred. It might also solve the over population of stray, feral house cats and yappie dogs not kept on a leash.
Short of that solution, Mother Nature will prevail. We do not have to do a thing. As the deer herd's genetic vigor declines, I predict Mother Nature will wave her magic wand and sprinkle fairy dust laden with a microorganism to restore balance. Then the debate will be what city department is responsible for removing the bloated deer carcasses all around town.
Steven Foster is a world renowned botanical photographer. He has published many books, including 2 for National Geographic
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