Thursday, April 19, 2007

People, animals and the land

"We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve, but to strive." Aldo Leopold, Round River.

Apparently, Leopold was right. In Michigan, we are still struggling to coexist with creatures who do not consent to participate in our economy, yet inhabit land we claim as a resource. Take the pregnant coyote in Detroit for example. She was released into the "wild" of northeast Oakland County. Oakland County has wilderness? Up north, where elk-vehicle collisions happen, the Michigan Department of Transportation is making an effort to reduce accidents by replacing deer crossing signs with elk crossing signs. But, does changing the image on the warning sign really improve the odds for the elk crossing the road? Elk and coyote are native to North America. But feral swine are a problem of our own making.

Feral swine have been reported in 32 Michigan counties. According to the piece linked below, the animals ranging about today are "escaped or neglected domestic swine, Eurasian wild boar originating from farms, and privately owned breeding and shooting operations." Kudos to the Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources for recommending a ban on all recreational shooting of swine behind fences, and prohibiting the sale, importation or transfer of swine for recreational purposes. Unfortunately, these are just recommendations, not yet laws.

Here is an assortment of news stories from the last month featuring our uneasy relationship with animals and nature in Michigan.

4/5/07 Successful hunters agree, Turkeys not as dumb as they seem
3/25/07 Michigan DNR still figuring out UP Moose count
3/28/07 Elk crossing signs coming, Elk overpass deemed cost-prohibitive
4/18/07 Coyote found in Detroit is pregnant, released in the wild to give birth
4/19/07 State recommends aggressive action to eliminate feral swine

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." John Muir