Jim Bennett

I get lots of feedback on my columns. Here is what Dale had to say.

Wildlife and Population …. A casual observer’s perspective.

My story began as a boy growing up on a farm in rural Minnesota in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Both the culture of the time and the wealth of the wild areas provided many opportunities to interact and observe wildlife. This was a time when parents told their kids to go out and play but be sure to be back by dinnertime. It was also a time when parents and grandparents would share stories about their experiences that became so engrained in me that I almost feel the environment they grew up in.

Many days were spent in the woods playing all sorts of make-believe games and seeing nature and wild things up close. Hunting started young then with the boys getting their first gun at a relative young age. There seemed, then, to be no end to the wonder of the out of doors but the story of my interest in nature and wildlife goes back to my grandfather and his stories.

In 1910, when my grandparents were in their prime, the population of Minnesota was 2 million and the world was just 1.7 billion. Vast areas were untouched with farms still being small land holdings that supported a family with some surplus marketed in town. Farming was done with horses; nature fought for control of the ground and was dominant.

By 1940 when my parents were in their prime, the population of Minnesota had grown to 2.7 million and the world population to 2.1 billion. Wildlife was abundant with hunters pictured with many ducks, fish and upland game birds. My father would take his shotgun with him when he hauled manure out each day because pheasants would come in large flocks for food.

By 1970 when I was in my prime, the population of Minnesota was 3.4 million and the world population had jumped to 3.9 billion. While you still ran the risk of hitting a pheasant along the highways, changes were coming fast. The Twin Cities metropolitan area was building houses at a breakneck speed. Maplewood was still farm fields but changes were underway. Wildlife habitat was disappearing and water quality was failing. The Clean Water Act was adopted and The Population Bomb was for sale in bookstores.

By 2000 when my children were in their prime the population of Minnesota was 4.9 million and the world population was 6 billion! We saw serious loss of habitat around the world, amphibians were crashing, African wildlife was being protected in large parks, akin to large zoos and rumors of climate change were on the wind. I gave up hunting out of concern for a wide variety of game population numbers.

Today the population of Minnesota is 5.5 million, double what it was when I was born and the world population is 7.7 billion, triple what it was when I was born. We are losing species at a rate that have not been seen since the loss of dinosaurs. Climate change, invasive species, and water quality to name a few issues are in the news daily.

Can we repair and protect our environment to the upstream problem – human activity? The impact of our numbers can’t be ignored because we simply don’t know what to do about it. It’s going to take a cultural shift that can only be accomplished through cultural dialog.

Send any comments for Dale about his “Reader’s Write In” feature to jamesbennett24@gmail.com

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