What is Conservation Biology anyway? Who is a Conservation Biologist anyway? Conservation Biology goes way beyond the study of wildife. Why? Because in order to restore so much that has been lost to our wildlife and our ecosystems, and recreate the rich and diverse and wondrous life that was present on our American continent before the Europeans came, a diverse array of disciplines need to be employed. Here are a few of them: historians, anthropologists, paleontologists, human psychologist, behaviorists, climatologists, metereologists, foresters to name a few. And as you can see, the human species and its behaviors are quite central to conservation biology.
I find that historians shed a great deal of light on us as humans in our relationship to the life on our planet. In my presentations to the community I strive to always include historical perspectives. What do these historical perspectives do for us? They help us to step back…OK ..step back again. Have you ever stood in front of one of Monet’s wall sized pieces of art? In order to take in the full impact of his work, you have to stand way back, away from it…and then you see what he wanted you to see.
Historical perspectives enlarge our view of the immediate world that you and I live in today by looking at the values and perspectives and actions of the past ….and then look at ourselves again. And then say…now where do we want to go from here.
Our American culture has deep roots in the European legacy brought to this land. Where our Native Americans relationship to the land and wildlife was one of respect and restraint, the European relationship was one of control, conquest, utter disconnect from the natural world, and the philosophy of use it up until it is all gone. This continues today in full swing.
I highly recommend you reading The Conquest of Paradise by the historian, Kirkpatrick Sale. (I have it listed on the reading list on this website) It will help you understand why we allow behaviors to wildlife today that you would never expect of a “civilized” society. The following is a great quote from his book in which he attempts to express the European ethic vs the wondrous one that is really deep inside of all of us, if we would just allow it to be expressed in our society~
“This separation from the natural world, this estrangement from the realm of the wild, exists in no other complex culture on earth. In its attitude toward wilderness, a heightening of its deep-seated antipathy to nature in general, European culture created a frightening distance between the human and the natural, between the deep recurrent rhythms of the world and the deep recurrent rhythms of the body, between the elemental eternal workings of the cosmos and the physical and psychological means of perception, by which we can come to understand it, and our place within it.”
So Coyote is a great teacher….they speak for all carnivores. It is like Coyote is saying to the people of Maine: “I have come to fill the empty niches in your impoverished landscape. Are you willing to reconsider your relationship with nature? And if you are, why do you allow me to be treated the way I am in Maine?