Occasionally, online exploration can be as fruitful and exciting as outdoor exploration. Here’s the story of a digital hike as winding, breathtaking, and memorable as a mountain or forest trek.
I’ve recently toyed with committing to reading a scientific paper once a week. This week as I read Song of the Dodo I was inspired to look up papers about my growing obsession: wildlife corridors.
Like getting pleasantly sidetracked in the woods, I’m not sure exactly how it happened… somehow, reading “Do Habitat Corridors Provide Connectivity?” – perhaps it was the pregnant phrase “urban matrix likely impenetrable to bobcat and cougar” – led me to a Google search on Cougars (Mountain Lions, Puma concolor). Shockingly, cougar hunting was an auto-complete option as I typed. A few clicks later, I learned that Cougar hunting is legal, and in my state (Texas), it’s legal any time, by any means.
I find this barbaric.
And I’m not alone. I was so grateful to digitally stumble upon the Cougar Fund that it brought tears to my eyes. I had never heard of it before, and as I let them know:
[The Cougar Fund appeared] among lots of websites promoting hunting, so I was wary, but as soon as I saw the intent of the website and [the video with] Jane Goodall, I was hooked.
Yep, that Jane Goodall. She’s a Director of the Cougar Fund, and in this heart-wrenching video, she explains why sport hunting of cougars needs to end. There’s also a handy donate button on that page, which I gladly used.
Like an unexpected wildlife sighting, in the same internet session the Sierra Club’s efforts to help the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) popped onto my digital trail. So I’m now, for the first time in my life, a Sierra Club member, and have signed the petition to continue the protection of the Gray Wolf. I urge you to do the same. (And if you join, there’s an option to receive a Sierra Club bag. I would have joined anyway, but cool!)
I never thought I’d be political. I never thought I’d be an activist. But these aren’t just charismatic megafauna. They’re living beings, with rights as unalienable as ours. When we spend just a little time studying them, we see their innate worth immediately.
And if we’d stop extirpating species – yes, the cougar and wolf were both native here*! – then people would stop saying about Texas (and I’ve heard this with my own ears several times) “there’s just not much nature there.”
Not much nature?! In the land of mesas and mountain lions, prairies and bison, forests and rivers and alligators and bobcats and armadillos? We’re not just wiping out species; we’re wiping out humanity’s memories of wilderness!
* Gray Wolf range http://www.sightline.org/research/graphics/wildlife-wolf-cs06m/
Cougar range http://www.cougarfund.org/conservation/states/
Hunting Mountain lions is downplayed on the TPWD site, yet cougars are classified as ‘nuisances’. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/nuisance/mountain_lion/