Nature Wars

Nature Wars

The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards Into Battlegrounds

eBook - 2012
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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 child's soccer field is carpeted with goose droppings, coyotes are killing your pets, the neighbor's 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 century's "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. Then, in the 20th century, an incredible turnaround took place. Conservationists outlawed commercial hunting, created wildlife sanctuaries, transplanted isolated species to restored habitats and imposed regulations on hunters and trappers. Over decades, they slowly nursed many wild populations back to health.

But after the Second World War something happened that conservationists hadn't foreseen: sprawl. People moved first into suburbs on urban edges, and then kept moving out across a landscape once occupied by family farms. By 2000, a majority of Americans lived in neither cities nor country but in that vast in-between. Much of sprawl has plenty of trees and its human residents offer up more and better amenities than many wild creatures can find in the wild: plenty of food, water, hiding places, and protection from predators with guns. The result is a mix of people and wildlife that should be an animal-lover's dream-come-true but often turns into a sprawl-dweller's nightmare.

Nature Wars offers an eye-opening look at how Americans lost touch with the natural landscape, spending 90 percent of their time indoors where nature arrives via television, films and digital screens in which wild creatures often behave like people or cuddly pets. All the while our well-meaning efforts to protect animals allowed wild populations to burgeon out of control, causing damage costing billions, degrading ecosystems, and touching off disputes that polarized communities, setting neighbor against neighbor. Deeply researched, eloquently written, counterintuitive and often humorous Nature Wars will be the definitive book on how we created this unintended mess.

Publisher: New York : Crown, c2012.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780307985668
0307985660
Branch Call Number: eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xxiv, 343 p.)
Additional Contributors: Axis 360 (Firm)

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t
tfcameron
Nov 03, 2014

I read this book because I am very interested in wildlife issues that are present on Gabriola and other places that I have lived. I started with chapters titled sequentially: The Elegant Ungulate, Lawn Carp, and Gobblers. The text details the: the history of deer primarily in eastern USA, resident Canada geese, and turkeys in the urban/suburban interface.
The book discusses how and why they have become "problems" and some of the solutions that have been tried. Even though I am an ecologist some of the exposition was a revelation, especially the history of these species in the early post-colonial period.
Jim Sterba isn’t a scientist and this probably makes for a clearer more journalistic book that is willing to looking critically at phenomenon like; pets as family, animal rights, and social media in wildlife management and the Nature Wars.
I am not a pet person but I was totally fascinated by his history of cats as pets. This was a preamble to the chapter Feral Felines which discusses the TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) concept/movement for dealing with the issue of “wild” cats. If you are not open to considering the quote that “TNR is a symptom of the gross ecological illiteracy that blights this nation. It’s cruel to cats and dangerous to people and wildlife.”, then this probably is not the book for you.
The book is so well-written and contemporary that I continued to read the remainder if the book as I was interested in his take on feeding birds, beaver, forest issues.
The 25 page epilogue is much more than a summary as it is used to fill in some of the blanks in the text and even present new topics. There is the curious suggestion that wild venison could just be what locavores are looking for, “free-range, grass-fed, organic, locally produced and harvested, sustainable…… meat”. tfc

l
ladxcore
Aug 20, 2013

I found this book badly researched, written, and edited. In talking about pre-colonial North America, the author makes broad generalizations about "Indians", without differentiating between First Nations groups. I found this offensively lazy. This is an interesting topic, but poorly done.

Malonesd May 08, 2013

The historical perspective clearly presents the conflicts between men and wildlife populations. Solutions tried and potential solutions are offered in a non-judgemental, informative and compassionate style.

sparkleshansz Apr 28, 2013

This book was very well researched but done in a very interesting format of writing. I would highly recommend it.

Saanich Mar 30, 2013

Living in an are where the deer population is exploding, I found this very interesting, especially the historical context.

Jane60201 Dec 26, 2012

I loved the first part of the book about the history of American reforestation after the initial colonial period. However, I found the sections on "backyard battlegrounds" sort of tedious as this subject has been well reported in the press.

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