Learning to Live with Wildlife

December 18, 2014

It amazes me how uninformed and squeamish we as a culture have gotten. We rent our lake home occasionally, which sits overlooking Cumberland Lake, surrounded and overhung by trees, bushes, a stream running beside it, and…let’s just call it what it is: nature. But more often than not one of the top complaints we get is there are “BUGS” and “CRITTERS” around the house.Well, duh.

The killing of a young mountain lion in Bourbon County recently, and news reports of bears, coyotes, deer, and more ranging out of the woods and into people’s back yards–not in rural areas but in suburban and urban areas–signifies how important it is that we change the relationship our culture now has with nature. Richard Louv calls the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation nature-deficit disorder. Listen to these telling tales of how our perception, attention, and relationship with nature has changed in the last few years:

  • Recently, the publisher of the OJED (Oxford Junior English Dictionary), which is the final word on English Language vocabulary of/for youth, decided to replace dozens of nature-related words like “beaver” and “dandelion” with “blog” and “MP3 player”.
  • We speak of nature in negative terms, such as: “Kill two birds with one stone”.
  • A recent study showed that eight-year-olds can identify 25 percent more Pokemon characters than wildlife species.
  • Another study says the percent of children who walk or bike to school has declined 25 percent in the past 30 years. Barely 21 percent of children today live within a mile of their school.
Noted wildlife artist and conservationist Robert Bateman observed, “If you can’t name things, how can you love them? And if you don’t love them, then you’re not going to care a hoot about protecting them or voting for issues that would protect them.”
We can’t blame all of this on the electronic umbilical cord, but it has had an impact. Also at fault are fear of the “unknown,” limiting time for unstructured play with organized classes and team play (although the uptick in team sports does not seem to have had a positive impact on the obesity epidemic), and more.
The bottom line is that we’d better be thinking about how to keep our environment diverse and healthy while keeping humans safe.
We fear what we do not know…so copy the Japanese and take a “Forest Bath” which means nothing more than a walk in the woods. Reduce your stress, clear your mind, and experience nature in an up close and personal way, And if the weatherman is right, you might be able to see some tracks in the snow he’s predicting!
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