Nature Wars : The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds
This may be hard to believe but it is very likely that more people live in closer proximity to more wild animals, birds and trees in the eastern United States today than anywhere on the planet at any time in history. For nature lovers, this should be wonderful news -- unless, perhaps, you are one of more than 4,000 drivers who will hit a deer today, your childs soccer field is carpeted with goose droppings, coyotes are killing your pets, the neighbors cat has turned your bird feeder into a fast-food outlet, wild turkeys have eaten your newly-planted seed corn, beavers have flooded your driveway, or bears are looting your garbage cans.For 400 years, explorers, traders, and settlers plundered North American wildlife and forests in an escalating rampage that culminated in the late 19th centurys &era of extermination. By 1900, populations of many wild animals and birds had been reduced to isolated remnants or threatened with extinction, and worry mounted that we were running out of trees.
In his latest, journalist Sterba (Frankie's Place: A Love Story) provocatively and persuasively argues that just at the moment when humankind has distanced itself irrevocably from nature, its behavior patterns have put people in conflict with a natural world that they don't know how to deal with. Dividing his work into three parts ("Forest People," "Wild Beasts," and "The Denatured Life"), Sterba boldly argues against the prevailing touchy-feely view of nature. Replete with statistics and a historical understanding of the cycles of humankind's interaction with nature, Sterba tells of forests being cleared and animals hunted to extinction (until the conservation movement stepped in to curtail the damage), and people, already disconnected from the land, sprawled out into new artificial living arrangements that allowed "nuisance" animals to thrive. The deer, beavers, and brown bears that appear in exurbanites' backyards have dire consequences for the ecological balance and our daily existence. Sterba takes aim at those who protest hunting as a means of population control, movies that anthropomorphize animals into harmless creatures, and Americans who no longer understand nature. Though Sterba can be self-righteous, the book presents a valuable counternarrative to the mainstream view of nature-human interaction. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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November 13, 2012
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