Monthly Archives: November 2010

NatGeo: What were YOU thinking?

OK.. time for some feathers to fly.

I just saw a post by one of my Facebook Friends (FBF), pointing to the now-running, National Geographic Photo contest.

As usual the thumbnail image, in the post’s LINK, was too small for me to see clearly at first. But, I read my FBF’s commentary.  I couldn’t agree more.  A National Geographic photo contest should be pretty darned good and worthy of strolling through the galleries of photos.

Then I looked closely at the image headlining the LINK in the post.

What ?? !!!!!

This is NOT a slam on my FBF here. Let’s get that out of the way first. It’s not his fault the image contains the content it does. Nor was he condoning the specific content shown in the image associated with the link.

Besides, when you include a LINK widget  this way in Facebook – and the linked-to-page has several images on it, a randomly chosen image appears. Unless you click-through the widget and choose a specific image – the first image (the fighting cock photo in this case) becomes the default.  Just like what you see, when you click the link below.

The image, aside from the content, is – technically- a superb photo!

But – there’s the rub: the content.

I ask you.  Explain the difference

  • NFL Player Michael Vick – convicted (rightfully so, in my opinion) for his illegal, immoral and ethically drought dog-fighting antics;
  • A beautifully composed, in vivid color, laser-sharp, focus, wonderfully composed image of two young boys,  maybe 8 or 9 years of age , in colorful, native Indonesian (Suradita Village of West Java)  dress, tossing fighting cocks at each other;

Both are abuses of animals, people and sensibility.

Both, by venue, promote such tragedy. 

One is mediated as heinous conduct, while the other a potential International photo contest winner.

Tell me I’m missing something; please!  Otherwise we’re sinking deeper into the quagmire of duplicity.

I’m not squeamish about blood, death or killing. I am a hunter.  But neither of the two scenarios mentioned above have anything to do with the natural actions of hunting or territorial protection.

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Wolverine: Soul of Wilderness

Wolverine.

What comes to mind when you hear or see this word, name, description? I’d dare say it is not what truly exists.

Michigan’s state nickname? Evil-spirit? Legend? Phantom? Teeth? Danger? Hell-on-paw-w/-claws?

  • How about the most successfully adapted creature to extreme cold climates imaginable?
  • How about one of the most understudied and/or appreciated animals on the planet?
  • How about the rarest ‘actually seen-in-the-wild’ animal in North America?
  • How about the living embodiment of the Nike slogan, “Just Do It” ?

Yes, I believe the wolverine embodies all of these and so much more. If you’d like to see more and know more about this amazing creature – got to the PBS.org site and watch the full Nature program, Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom.

I have had a passionate love for these, largest of the weasel family, since I first saw a presentation of one on the old Mutual of Omaha, “Wild Kingdom” – back in the early ’60s.

It was a frigid north woods winter in the late ’60s, where I had the extremely rare opportunity – and privilege – to encounter and watch a pair of wolverines – in the wild – for over an hour. No camera. Nothing but my eyes and memory to record the experience. The sensation of that memory still sends chills up my spine every time I think of it; which is quite often.

I was never taken serious when I told the story of the encounter. I had no proof; only my story. Wolverines had not been verified as having been seen in that region in over 40 years. Yet, over the years reports of sightings have been persistent. Recently, with the advent of imaging technology, i.e., Trailcams, researchers are seeing verified proof of their return.

Many say the wolf, is the symbol that gives the wild in wilderness it’s heart. I maintain that the wolverine is what gives wilderness its wild soul.

If the wolverine had a theme song, you’d likely find them hummin’ Bosephus’ – A Country Boy Can Survive – through a snarl, oozing attitude that would rock-the-world of a grizzly bear. Hiding their complex nature as a very social animal, has been a successful key in their survival.

But, for all the survival ability it embodies, the wolverine has one major flaw in their arsenal: they are heavily dependent on cold – really COLD – temperatures to survive. As the earths polar and altitude environments heat up, dependable cold temperature, heavy snows and long winter seasons are becoming an ever increasing problem across their more populated range: the Rocky Mountain glacial fields.

To loose the wolverine would be to loose the soul of the wild.

I -for one- am in total agreement with Aldo Leopold, as he poignantly announces, in the first line of his introduction to the book, that has become the repository of his writings, A Sand County Almanac – containing – as the last chapter – what I believe was his most important essay – The Land Ethic,


Abundant Abuse: We have been warned

It is amazing just how comfortable we, in the fortunate minority of earth’s population, can become with a way of taking for granted the most basic of life essentials.

We quibble about not having the right shirt, skirt, pants, shoes or whatever to wear.  We chafe over the least little infraction of our personally imprinted mandate on time.  Our fellow travelers on this road of impoverished awareness of the natural world and our tenuous – at best! – part in it, are no less complacent of their duty or complicit in their premeditated abdication of responsibility.  And each one of us – barreling down this autobahn of destruction – is more likely than not to be clueless to the extremity of our minority value in this issue.

Yet, we certainly seem to be so morally bankrupt in this that we do not realize the extent to which we gorge our pursuit of pleasures at the incredulous expense of the rest of earth’s citizenry; of which we are less than 5%.  Yet, we control the use of 95% of the resources earth coughs up.

Could it be assessed – dare I say, assumed – that we just don’t care? The evidence shows clearly there is no other choice of analysis.  The bill for such a lapse in moral responsibility will come due and there will be no avoiding it at that time.

It will be a sad, sad day when this happens – and it’s not likely that far off. On that day there will be many a lip uttering those damning lines from the morbid poem, Maud Miller –

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”
John Greenleaf Whittier (Maud Miller)

We have been warned.