Nature Notes: Swept away

Nature Notes: Swept away

I followed the set of truck tracks in the beach sand for at least a mile. As they meandered along, it was clear from this tiny sampling that the carnage to marine mammals and problem of seabirds being fouled from engine oil dripping out of leaky engines is a very real problem to the health of our beaches. (It only takes a drop or two of oil to kill a seabird).

Where the tire tracks in the sand were intercepted in places by waves and mercifully erased, I began to think how all of this coast would one day (eon) be erased geologically, and the metaphor of the tracks being washed clean from sight in one place yet stubbornly surviving in another slightly higher spot was pretty obvious.

As the faltering grip of the "good-ol-boy" days slowly fades into oblivion along with other failed lines of human evolution, life for some animals, at least, will begin to get better. Hunting will soon be banned from all areas within earshot of residences, and we will one day soon not have to wince at the sound of shotguns and long guns as they put a grisly end to our beautiful and fragile wildlife. The hunting will be pushed further and further away, and we who love to be in the close company of live and healthy wildlife populations will rejoice!

All of this is coming from a simple change in our local and regional demographics. Translated to "good-ol-boy" speak, that means a flood of city folk who don't kill animals and go to great lengths and expense to protect them and their habitats. And these good people get no enjoyment from watching a shot goose fall to its death from the sky! The big wheel is turning and nothing can slow it or stop it. The days of nutrition and recreation being one and the same are finally drawing to a close, and the stigma of being a hunter in the new demographics will suffice. Like an ice age that has run its course in geologic time or when that big meteor impact reshuffles the deck of life, so too will the big take change.

We are finally arriving at the understanding that gillnetting is the same as cat drowning or drug testing on dogs and that elk have immediate and extended families just as intact (probably more so) than the people who are hunting them. So do all the animals. Ducks, geese, pheasants, quail, deer, elk and coyote, wolf and bear ... same ... all the same as us.

A circuit has to be completely defective in an individual who can scan a herd of deer or elk and shoot the biggest and best, the leader of the herd, the insurer of the group, the one who would stand the tallest and strongest and lead the herd to safety. That ignorant and arrogant killing will leave the herd leaderless and at the mercy of "leader-wanna-be's" struggling for power who know much less.

Sound familiar? But as luck would have it, the sun over the ocean disappeared into storm clouds and it was time to turn around on the beach, and with the wind strong at my back, begin to head home. Geology is a wonderful study, and there is some small satisfaction for it's students in knowing how this game ends.

Craig Sparks is director of NAWA, and a lifelong admirer of wildlife. Found Injured wildlife? Questions? Call NAWA at 665-3595 or e-mail to

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