Monday, February 12, 2007

Strange Story

After meeting Julie Zickefoose briefly at the Festival of the Cranes, I started reading her blog. Today I ran into this article mentioned in her blog, "Why I Broke One of My 'Cardinal' Rules".

I've got mixed emotions about this one. I also have cardinals in my yard. I rejoiced last year when I had a cardinal nest in a rose bush by my front porch. They have a beautiful flutelike whistle. Cardinal photos are always popular, especially winter snowy ones.

When humans and wildlife life in close proximity, there is always the possibility of conflict. While I love small furry animals in the forest, I'm not so fond of small furry mice in my house. And living in the country, mice ocassionally think that my warm dry house is suitable habitat for them.

We've also had some interesting experiences with mice and campers. Years ago when we were camping in a extra long converted Dodge van at Maroon Bells in Colorado, some mice found the cheese treats inside the van irresistible. All night long we could hear the rustle of papers and wrappers. We would turn on the light and the van became quiet. We would go up front, hoping to chase them out. But to no avail, all night long, rustle . . .rustle . . . rustle. Fortunately, when morning dawned, the mice left for their burrows. We did not hear them again at a new campsite the next night.

This year we picked up a mouse at a campsite in Illinois. We were hoping that it would also return to its burrow before we left. No such luck. That mouse travelled back to Texas with us and thwarted our attempts with mouse traps. When it finally met is demise, we grieved a little. On the other hand, we know first hand how destructive mice can be and we have too many electrical cords.

My grandfather bought ranchland in the Texas Panhandle in the 1960's. Cattlemen don't like prairie dogs. While I do like prairie dogs, I understand the conflict. Prairie dogs clear the area around their town of grass and create holes that cows can step in and injure themselves. While Mother always checked for prairie dogs and took steps for their removal, I remain mum on the subject with my tenants, hoping that a few prairie dogs will find their way back. As a nature photographer, I'm seriously considering telling them not to remove new prairie dogs, but I don't even know if we've had prairie dogs there in years.

But shooting a cardinal . . . since I've not had a beserker cardinal, I can't fully put myself in her shoes. I would think you would get used to it and tune out the noise. And I certainly don't know the legality of killing songbirds.

I'm not against guns or hunting. But I also believe in planning for the future. Don't hunt or harvest wildlife, fish, or trees beyond their ability to regenerate.

One lost cardinal will not change the ecology of the area, but I find grief that it had to happen.

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