Category Archives: Earth Medicine

Cause an Uproar

By now you’ve probably figured out that black bears are my totem, my company logo, my spirit animal, my favorite subject to photograph, just a real joy for me to be around.  Not that I don’t love other critters. I do. I’m not just a fan..I’m in awe of our environment. But, we all have our favorites when it comes to nature. We are dog lovers, cat people, tree huggers and ocean protectors. Some of us just can’t stay away from snakes – others are drawn to mountainous terrain, or the study of the planets and stars. When it comes to nature, we develop a ‘special’ connection to a species, a landscape, or an attribute of Mother Nature. And that ‘connection’leads us to a greater understanding of the inter-dependence of all living beings.

That understanding teaches us how important it is that we protect our environment…. if not for our ‘favorite’ … then for our own survival. We cannot live without the oxygen given to us by plants and trees.  We cannot live without clean water. We cannot live without clean air.  We are not separate from nature. We are inter-connected and totally dependent upon Mother Earth.

Why am I on this soap box today?  Well… recently my little home-town newpaper published an article about the local black bears.  The article basically informs the community that due to a recent dry period there are less fruits and berries and the hungry black bears have entered more heavily populated areas in their quest for a meal. It was reported that 2 years ago this region had a population of 2,500  – it is now estimated to be 4,000.  Black bears became protected in the 1980’s when over hunting pushed the black bear population to the brink.

The article continues – “So now that they are back to a healthy population, we are getting a high number of bear complaints, bear problems, and bear encounters”. The biologist said “We spend a lot of time telling people black bears are not predators. The only time I’ve seen any bear attacks in the area is when someone gets bit or scratched on the hand while trying to provide the bear with an ill-advised snack. Putting up trash, bird seed and fragrant pet food is the key to reducing bear vs. human run-ins”.

LOTS of people have moved into the territory of the bear. Many of these people do not heed the words of bear lovers or this particular biologist. And the bears pay for it.

The article concludes with “Now for the first time in nearly three decades the black bear game limit for hunters has been upped to two kills per season. We feel like it’s probably time for this. Our goal in bear management is now to level out the population”.                                       –  hmmmm  – level out the population…… –

You know how sometimes ‘timing’ can be ironic?  Well the same week this article about the black bear ‘boom’ was in our little weekly paper – the national news was informing the world that within days there will be 7 billion people on earth. By 2030 there will be 8 BILLION – Learn more here:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/7-billion

The Last Lions NTGEO
And this week – the struggle of nature to survive amid 7 Billion human beings was the focus of a film aired on National Geographic (NTGEO) The film – The Last Lions –  followed the life of a lioness with 3 cubs for one year. Just like the Black Bears in the mountains of N. Georgia…human encroachment onto the land of the African Lions has created displacement and dangerous situations that threaten future existence of this species. The story is compelling and beautifully shot and narrated. I highly recommend you take time to view it. Then go to National Geographic website – Cause an Uproar – for The Last Lions – be a voice !!!http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/big-cats/cause-an-uproar/
In the last 50 years, lion populations have plummeted from 450,000 to as
few as 20,000.  Are this lioness and her young to be among the last lions?
Or will we as humans, having seen how tough, courageous and poignant their
lives in the wild are, be moved to make a difference?

-Support the film: Theaters are listed at www.thelastlions.com  as well as has links to
www.CauseanUproar.org

-Join the Facebook Community: Like the film’s Facebook page to see film clips, deleted scenes, exclusive photos, and more!

-Trailer Donation Campaign: National Geographic will donate ten cents for each trailer view on YouTube (up to $100,000):

-Sweepstakes: Botswana Tourism and National Geographic Expeditions have teamed up on a sweepstakes offer for a trip for two to Botswana. Enter at TheLastLions.com

-Mobile Website: Visit thelastlions.com on your smart phone to download lion wallpapers, a lion roar ring tone, and the film’s trailer.

-Mobile Texting program: Text LIONS to 50555 to donate $10 to National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative.

After you see the film, talk to all your friends and family. Getting the buzz going is the best way to draw attention to the plight of wild lions and turn this trend around.

                  Thank you  – really… thank you for anything you do to help.

Shhhh…There’s a Bear ……

See the dark shadow down in the woodpile? That’s a young bear looking for a snack. We try to be quiet as we slowly walk out on the porch to catch a glimpse of our visitor.

We are so fortunate – we get lots of visits from bears…. Mama Bears with their Cubs. Wise old Bears and youngsters on their own for the first time – they are all fascinating. It always feels like a gift – a privilege –  when we have a ‘moment’ with wildlife. We get visits from deer, wild turkey, racoons, and yes.. the less appreciated but quite essential snakes, moles, and hornets. While we enjoy seeing all of the wildlife … it is the Bears that are most special – and who most easily captivate our attention.

We try to never forget they were here first – we  moved into their back yard. We have educated ourselves to their ways and we try to be good neighbors. We are careful to remove our bird feeders when the black bears awake from their winter sleep. They don’t know the food is for the birds.  And if they get lucky at one bird feeder or one carelessly placed dog dish – they will be back – looking for another handout.

Not everyone who ‘moves in on the territory’ of wildlife …. like the bears…. comes with the same attitude, the same desire to ‘be a good neighbor’. They don’t bother to learn about the environment or the habits and ways of the wildlife. They bring their own personal values and habits here and they expect the environment to adapt to their way of living. They just don’t seem to understand that the bird feeder and the garbage in the flimsy can are an ‘invitation to lunch’. They get annoyed when the bear ‘trespasses’ on their property. The bear has no idea about property ownership or manifest destiny mentality. The bear is just ‘looking for something to eat’.

And then there are folks who do absolutely absurd things when they visit or move to natural settings. Some of them actually put out food for the bears – so they can get a picture or a video for show and tell with their friends and family back in the ‘big city’. Here’s a real life … real sad… example of what happens when people behave without thinking about the consequences of their actions.

Big Mama

Big Mama – that’s what the locals called her.  We had watched over several springs as she would introduce her new cubs to the splendor that surrounded their birth place. She was a wonderful Mom – taught them to run at the sound of a vehicle – “quick.. go climb the nearest tree until everything is safe for you again”.  She taught them the best places to find berries, grubs, roots, nuts, and even where the bees buried their honey stash in the side of the hill. This was her ‘territory’ and she thrived and raised healthy babies….. no one ever had an issue with her coming close to our homes….. until……

Until he moved to the mountain. He wanted a better view .. so he cut down trees with abandon.  He didn’t use them for firewood and didn’t seem to grasp the idea that when the rains came.. the trees kept the earth from eroding and washing down the sides of the mountain.  Didn’t matter… he wanted a better view. When he wanted to ‘see a bear up close and get some good pictures’ he spread out a feast of corn and watermelon.  That’s Big Mama sitting there in that ‘bait corn’.. behind her are some of the trees that were sacrificed for his ‘view’. Big Mama learned she could get an easy meal there. Big Mama learned to associate houses and people with food. See those tags on Big Mama’s ears?  When a Bear gets too familar with houses and people, they lose their fear of us. They will tear screen to get to the dog food on the deck…. they will scare people … because…. they are bears.  Big Mama had 2 tags at the time this picture was taken… Not long after… she got her 3rd strike when taking down a bird feeder not far from this ‘feeding zone’.  Three strikes… you’re out.  We miss Big Mama…. Not long after that – the man moved away. We do NOT miss the man who cut down all the trees and in our opinion – was responsible for the death of Big Mama.

 

Talking Trash

We live in a beautiful place … lots of wildlife…. trees… State Park with a 700 foot waterfall just up the road… so in addition to the locals we have thousands of visitors each month that come to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. And the vast majority of the local people and the tourists who visit this area really appreciate the environment. This vast majority leaves no trace of their visit. They are renewed by nature and in return, this vast majority are effective stewards of Mother Earth – the environment.

But there are those folks – you know – themthey – infamous for saying and doing the wrong thing to the dismay of the rest of us.  They come here to take pictures and video ….posing on.. in front of… or beside particularly spectacular sites.

So what are they thinking as they toss their fast food bag out the window of their car? Or take a walk on one of the trails thru the woods and decide – this would be a good place to change the baby’s diaper – and just leave it on the side of the trail !!!  Maybe they are thinking,  “it’s just one water bottle.. one beer can”. Someone will pick it up”

                                           Someone does pick up the trash they toss away.  We pick up the litter on the highways and the trails. It’s NOT an enjoyable way to spend the day-but it is rewarding.

 

Bears and other wildlife are attracted to the roads and trails by the smell of our trash. Some of them end up losing their lives investigating that milk shake cup. We pick up the trash to help protect the wildlife.

 

 

                                                  When trash is left on the mountain trails or on the sides of the roads – it can be disasturous for our water supplies downstream. That trash runs into the streams, creeks and rivers that are the source of our drinking water !!  We pick up the trash to help protect our water.

 

Sometimes you have to just get out of that ‘it’s not my job.. I didn’t create the problem.. why should I clean up someone else’s mess” kind of attitude.  It is not our fault there is trash on the roads and trails or in our neighborhoods. It is probably not our responsibility to clean it up.  But as a wise Elder once said to me when I was complaining about doing some difficult work to fix a mess I did not create “IF not you – then who will do it”

They will always be among us.  It’s up to each of us to decide who we are and what we are willing to do to make a difference. What are you doing for Mother Earth? 

Send a comment – along with a picture if you have one – we love to share inspiration –      vette