ReWild(life)ing of the US…

This is not the incident described below in the Bend Bulletin, but the internet is full of related photos and stories.

While researching a future post yesterday, I came across this in the Bend Bulletin

Bend Dog Attacked by Deer in Backyard.

Steven George, a biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Bend, said humans aren’t really in danger of an attack — but if there’s a reason, they can go after dogs.

“The deer don’t differentiate between whether it’s a domestic dog or coyote,” George said. “They see a dog as a predator to them. It’s something that wants to hurt them, or even kill them. And so they’re going to be fairly defensive, and they can be defensive to the point of being aggressive toward that animal.”

George said attacks like this aren’t an everyday occurrence, and happen maybe once a month. And, in in the fall, deer are less likely to be aggressive compared to the spring.

“This time of the year, it’s usually a buck that’s associated with any kind of attack, but not always,” George said. “In the spring, it’s more normal, typically, a doe or a doe with a fawn associated with it.”

George said the most important thing people can do is keep their dogs on a leash.

“Typically, 99 percent of the time, when a dog gets injured, it’s because it’s not leashed — and it takes off after the deer,” George said.

Then, serendipitously, Terry Seyden sent this article “America Gone Wild” from the Wall Street Journal. The article is by Jim Sterba and adapted from his book “Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds” to be published Nov. 13.

There’s a great photo in the article.

Below are some excerpts.

This year, Princeton, N.J., has hired sharpshooters to cull 250 deer from the town’s herd of 550 over the winter. The cost: $58,700. Columbia, S.C., is spending $1 million to rid its drainage systems of beavers and their dams. The 2009 “miracle on the Hudson,” when US Airways LCC -0.16% flight 1549 had to make an emergency landing after its engines ingested Canada geese, saved 155 passengers and crew, but the $60 million A320 Airbus was a complete loss. In the U.S., the total cost of wildlife damage to crops, landscaping and infrastructure now exceeds $28 billion a year ($1.5 billion from deer-vehicle crashes alone), according to Michael Conover of Utah State University, who monitors conflicts between people and wildlife.

There are several paragraphs about how trees have come back to the East.

The founders of the conservation movement would have been astonished to learn that by the 2000 Census, a majority of Americans lived not in cities or on working farms but in that vast doughnut of sprawl in between. They envisioned neither sprawl nor today’s conflicts between people and wildlife. The assertion by animal protectionists that these conflicts are our fault because we encroached on wildlife habitat is only half the story. As our population multiplies and spreads, many wild creatures encroach right back—even species thought to be people-shy, such as wild turkeys and coyotes. (In Chicago alone, there are an estimated 2,000 coyotes.)

Why? Our habitat is better than theirs. We offer plenty of food, water, shelter and protection. We plant grass, trees, shrubs and gardens, put out birdseed, mulch and garbage.

Sprawl supports a lot more critters than a people-free forest does. For many species, sprawl’s biological carrying capacity—the population limit the food and habitat can sustain—is far greater than a forest’s. Its ecological carrying capacity (the point at which a species adversely affects the habitat and the other animals and plants in it) isn’t necessarily greater. The rub for many species is what’s called social carrying capacity, which is subjective. It means the point at which the damage a creature does outweighs its benefits in the public mind. And that’s where many battles in today’s wildlife wars start.

What to do? Learn to live with them? Move them? Fool them into going away? Sterilize them? Kill them? For every option and every creature there is a constituency. We have bird lovers against cat lovers; people who would save beavers from cruel traps and people who would save yards and roads from beaver flooding; Bambi saviors versus forest and garden protectors.

Wildlife biologists say that we should be managing our ecosystems for the good of all inhabitants, including people. Many people don’t want to and don’t know how. We have forsaken not only our ancestors’ destructive ways but much of their hands-on nature know-how as well. Our knowledge of nature arrives on screens, where wild animals are often packaged to act like cuddly little people that our Earth Day instincts tell us to protect. Animal rights people say killing, culling, lethal management, “human-directed mortality” or whatever euphemism you choose is inhumane and simply creates a vacuum that more critters refill. By that logic, why pull garden weeds or trap basement rats

3 thoughts on “ReWild(life)ing of the US…”

  1. I must have missed this in my daily reading of The Bulletin, but appreciate the explanation. I live on Awbrey Butte in northwestern Bend. The butte has been urbanized in the past 20 years as has the butte’s herd of mule deer, elements of which amble through our yard every day and bring joy to my daily walks. By city ordinance, dogs are not permitted to run free. This helps mitigate dog-deer confrontations. But compliance is not 100 percent. I’m not aware of any recent deer-people incidents. It’s good to remember, thought, that even urbanized deer are still “wild” animals, should be accorded their space, and enjoyed from a distance. I find them super neighbors!

  2. Sharon, with all respect I quote from the “about” tab on NCFP:

    “Our goal is to solicit broad participation from a cross-section of interests in a respectful atmosphere of mutual learning on topics related to the Forest Service and public lands policy.”

    I know we occasionally stray, but “wildlife” issues seem to attract their own crowd and mindset (see wildlife news blog: Certainly a world apart from what is discussed here, including a lack of….well, civil discourse to put it mildly (read the comments).

    I am curious to your motives for posting a wildlife story such as this?

  3. JZ… that is a very good question! As I went about my business today, I would ask myself that question and got a variety of different answers. Which usually means that it’s a right-brained thing, and my left brain is rationalizing a place that my right brain wants to go.

    FWIW- here is what occurs to me.

    1) We started with the Olympic goats that were attacking people.. that was on a national forest, so the whole idea of “ungulate attacks humans” was interesting to me. Kind of like the news “man bites dog.”

    2) I didn’t excerpt the forest-y part of the article, Trees have “taken back” the land.. I am a forester so all tree things are of interest…

    In just a few decades we have turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess that’s getting messier, and costlier. How did this happen? The simple answer: Forests grew back over the past two centuries, wildlife came back over the past century and people sprawled across the landscape over the past half-century.

    Reforestation began in 19th-century New England, when farmers started abandoning marginal pastures and buying cheap feed grain from the rich, relatively flat lands on the other end of the newly opened Erie Canal. Later, petroleum-based fertilizers and gasoline-powered machinery made Midwestern farming more productive and draft animals obsolete, freeing up 70 million acres that were being used to feed them. Many farmers, meanwhile, opted for jobs in town. Trees took back much of their land and, after World War II, nonfarmers began moving onto it.

    Today, the eastern third of the country has the largest forest in the contiguous U.S., as well as two-thirds of its people. Since the 19th century, forests have grown back to cover 60% of the land within this area. In New England, an astonishing 86.7% of the land that was forested in 1630 had been reforested by 2007, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Not since the collapse of Mayan civilization 1,200 years ago has reforestation on this scale happened in the Americas, says David Foster, director of the Harvard Forest, an ecology research unit of Harvard University. In 2007, forests covered 63.2% of Massachusetts and 58% of Connecticut, the third and fourth most densely populated states in the country, not counting forested suburban and exurban sprawl (though a lot of sprawl has enough trees to be called a real forest if people and their infrastructure weren’t there).

    3) The suburban wildlife issue is a fundamental question of human environment relationships… what rules do we go by when there is a conflict between human desires and animals? The people in this article are trying to work it out, regardless of the vegetation and populations in 1300, 1650 or 1830. I wonder if the same beaver issues occurred on public land, would our policies be different if beaver were there in 1300 or not? like this previous post….


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