This is the eighth article by John Gunnall that has appeared in Michigan Turkey Tracks. John is a retired school educator who has served as Superintendent of Schools for the Mattawan, Detour-Drummond Island, Crystal Falls, Hale and Banger school districts. Many others who have been outdoorsmen and hunters over the past eight decades have witnessed declining game populations, declining hunters within our ranks and questionable management practices in the name of ”Hunter Opportunity”, “Recruitment And Retention” and “Impact On The Economy”, among others.

Basic to Man’s existence is an invisible tether that connects us inexplicably to the Earth’s resources. When any part of our planet is devalued all people and all her internal and external systems are affected. Currently, another man caused crisis has revealed itself in my part of the world near the small community of Belmont, Michigan. Belmont is located only a stone’s throw from Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second largest city. Over fifty years ago an area manufacturer disposed of waste material containing chemical into the Earth which today is the likely source of residents living near the dump site who are no longer able to drink the water they pump from their wells. Without dwelling on this single event and other like incidents in Michigan one can easily understand the reoccurring problems when our outdoor habitat is being largely taken for granted in Michigan.

People in high places making decisions for us ordinary citizens know that our state’s habitat is being marginalized when we still lack a value quotient of our outdoor habitat. Decisions about saying ”yes” to proposals must get beyond “dollars” and “past practice” and re-introduce the once credible response of just saying “no” to matters beyond the brain-dead issues before our DNR Commissioners like “antler restrictions”, “ten brookie limits”, etc.

In the USA we champion democracy and its greater potential for representing the wishes of her citizens. Yet history reveals that several of the earliest leaders of successful civilizations that came into prominence long before America was founded espoused far different philosophies with some ruled by benevolent dictators. It was once believed that a caring autocrat could more fairly and more efficiently save his subjects from their human frailties. Such rulers repudiated conventional wisdom later held by democratic governments of today. Remnants of stronger leaders whose style is reminiscent of some past rulers is actually refreshing to me given our “yes man” society where corruption has become a daily conversation.

This writer does not cotton to the belief that contrary historic governance as having once existed should be cause to abandon our representative form of democracy. With that being said, instances in history do show evidence of dictators holding their subjects accountable for preserving and protecting nature’s habitat.

I am further reminded of my days studying political philosophers and the fact that many of those early regimes ie: Greeks, Romans, etc., made their subjects strong through demanding thrift and their obligation to protect the potential for their lands in order to yield nature’s bounty. To consume their habitat for nefarious benefit was to “cut off their nose to spite their face” and was met with fierce retribution. Clean up and emergency legislation to assure habitat protection and preservation were never part of the equation when the consequences were immediate, severe and enforced to dissuade even the most reckless subjects.

Today with greater population driven by a material world that enables Americans with artificial influences “for having more and more things” we should not be surprised that we are taken to the brink by an ecosystem struggling with its capacity to withstand man’s thoughtless decisions. Our country and other nations must face the sobering reality that without taking a “value inventory” of our “full habitat” we will once again fall victim to the guestimates of the past. To place a value on habitat must take us beyond our “historic extrinsic assumptions” and compel examiners to use new multifaceted knowledge. Those who thrive on quick decisions and quicker fixes i.e.; (DNR Commissioners, etc.) will never understand or appreciate the depth of inquiry in the decision-making process required for placing a value on Michigan’s habitat.

Help Wanted: Human qualifications sought in determining a value for Michigan’s habitat

  1. Visionaries with preservationist mentalities, having no personal or political agendas.
  2. Persons who are work driven not seeking personal gain or fame, i.e. Dr. Gregg Gunnell (recently deceased), World Renowned Duke University Paleontologist.
  3. People who recognize and have studied the collages of nature who are sensitive for identifying her interdependent systems.
  4. People who have depth perception for understanding nature in order to correct and repair damaged systems that she has already incurred.

Preserving habitat like money has reached the point that we must ”figuratively” throw away the combination to the safe. We must not take the risk of uninformed spending of her dwindling potential. A mentality for the protection of a yet undefined value of habitat must begin now that dignifies those who “dare to say no” to a state which has allowed itself to recklessly harvest it heritage and fabricate resource numbers to protect revenue sources generated on the back of Mother Nature.

Of Deer and Rattlesnakes
Spring 2018 Update