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Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally

Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer - Wildlife Photographer
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983

NH Nature

New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff

Monday 12/13/2004 Back from a Florida vacation

Well, over a week has passed since I did a Nature Note. For good reason as I had a chance for an early winter vacation to Florida with my extended family. It included my family with my daughter Amy and her husband Derek and daughter Katie along with Derek's family. Ten of us all tolled. Off to Orlando and the local attractions for a week. The temperatures reached the lower 80's most days with the only rain coming as a cold front moved in on Friday to lower the temperatures ten degrees as we headed to the airport for the return flight.

Florida is a place of conundrums, that is so steadily, and quickly, being turned into one giant suburb. Wetland, swamps water and wildlife spout from nearly every cranny. But it is quickly being fragmented and lost to development. Our flight down, on the third from Manchester, direct to Orlando, arrived about 10:30 PM. The route took us just off the coast the whole way down. I could easily trace the coast with the stream of lights passing by my window. I could easily identify major cities by their bright lights outlining the bays. NY and the Chesapeake were easy to spot. I have sporadically flown this route for a couple of decades or more. I am always amazed at the breadth of our human encroachment on this earth. There was practically no break in visible lights the whole way. The return trip last Friday night was the same , but this time the flight was over land just in from the coast. It again traced the coast the whole distance.

At the condo we stayed in one small patch of wetland remained. A large detention pond abutted this small 1 1/2 acre "Wildlife Preserve". A 100 yard boardwalk sliced the remnant down the middle. The pond had a pair or more of hooded mergansers often, mallards , as you would expect and several cormorants and egrets at different times. Along the boardwalk was a roofed gazebo with two containers selling fish food dispensing a handful of fish food for a quarter. These added plenty of nutrients to the pond. Fish frolicked in the tossed offering, and on one occasion, two large turtles with long noses moved in to grab what they could in the frenzied fish.

Wildlife is exploited everywhere. From Sea World to the Disney's Wild Kingdom, penned wildlife drew crowds of spectators, who like me stayed in one of the thousands upon thousands of condos built over the graves of all that was once wild in the area. Why are people so enamored with wildlife in pens and so neglectful of that which is not penned? Sure, you could donate a dollar throughout the Animal Kingdom, with 100% of the money going to "help" wildlife around the world. You even were "given" a huge pin in exchange for the dollar, which I'm sure cost nearly a dollar to make, that extrolled your virtues as a wildlife protector. My new hat sported two by days end.

Such is the conflict with wildlife versus people all over. Develop thousands of acres and destroy wildlife for centuries, yet proclaim how much you care about wildlife by donating a pittance to wildlife or protecting them in some small fashion. It is 50 degrees cooler as I type this. But familiar territory settles my mind from the conflicts of the last week. Oh, it was fun, very enjoyable, but somehow, desecration of this once beautiful wildlife habitat, provides some guilt for me to temper it all. It's always good to be home.


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2004-12-03 Green fields under a gray sullen sky in the south and snow

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2004-12-16 Ghosts of winter are sweeping towards me.

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