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Aldo Leopold

ldo Leopold (1887-1948) is thought of by a lot of people as the father of wildlife management and the originator of the United States wilderness system. His studies, books, and philosophy of land and wildlife conservation attempt to explain why we, as human beings, by virtue of our power and influence, must conserve wildlife and manage the land for the use of everything on it, not merely the money to be made from it. Like the early Native Americans, he saw himself and other human beings as an integral and equal part of the circle of life, not separate from it and superior to it.

Leopold saw that the continued wholesale slaughter of wildlife and the exploitation and denuding of the land by removing any part of the flora or fauna that did not contribute to economic gain would eventually upset the balance of nature. This thoughtless, ruthless destruction stood to eradicate entire species, and render the land and its ecological environment unsuitable for all wildlife.

Aldo Leopold, Don Webster, The Outdoor Edge, Outdoor News
He believed that raping the land strictly for economic purposes without regard for its natural inhabitants was wrong, not only from an ethical point of view, but from a biological point of view. He believed that a crow or a gopher had as much right to live and prosper on a piece of property as a duck or a deer -- even as much right as a human -- and that it just might be necessary for those “lesser” species to exist in order for everything to exist. Granted, that may be difficult to consider as we gulp down an Egg White Delight McMuffin while hurrying to our job which may be in jeopardy down a congested stretch of heavily-patched asphalt in our foreign-made SUV (the asphalt is in disrepair because we live in California, and the state has mismanaged and/or misplaced our tax monies in spite of surpluses).

Leopold urged that it wasn’t enough to sit back on our haunches and wait for someone else to practice ethics and conservation, it was necessary for everyone to take an active part. Unfortunately, that essentially includes politicians and power moguls who don’t give a tinker’s damn about wildlife or conservation (or ethics).

Aldo Leopold, Don Webster, The Outdoor Edge, Outdoor News

Aldo Leopold died in 1948, and now, almost 70 years later, his studies, books, and conservationist philosophy are still being largely ignored by not only America’s power elite, but by much of the outdoor population at large, the former being interested only in money, the latter being interested only in immediate success and gratification with little or no thought of its consequences and its lasting effects on the future.

Leopold’s most famous work, A Sand County Almanac, remains one of the most respected books about the environment ever produced. He continues to be regarded by many as the most influential conservation thinker of the 20th century.

So much for respect and regard! In spite of Leopold’s accomplishments, insights, and conservative/restorative solutions, it appears that for the most part, we continue to ignore his warnings, disregard the biological rights of wildlife, and rape the land in our ruthless quest for monetary profit.

Anyone who doubts this and chooses to refute it might want to first take a good, hard look at the rapidly-dwindling opportunities for outdoor sportspeople around the country, if not the world, and the continued reduction of key, wildlife species and loss of habitat due to human-related pollution and greed.

Save all your hunting and fishing photos! You may need them to convince those who come after us that once upon a time their great-great grandparent bagged a deer or caught a fish. And maybe, just maybe, they will understand (as we did not) that it all belongs to Mother Nature. We don’t really own it. We are only a part of it for a very short time.


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