Will the Real Predators Please Stand Up?

"We have met the enemy and they are us" - Pogo, 1971

By Dona Tracy

I read, with interest and irony, three articles posted on Cape Cod Today within two days concerning predation and our endangered tern and plover colonies on Monomoy and the Town of Orleans, respectively. Leading me to ask, "Will the real predators please stand up?"

On one hand, we have the 'recent' geological connection of Monomoy to the mainland with a 'bridge' of sand and worry about the onslaught of predators to the nesting endangered Roseate Tern population while on the other, we have a story about the Town of Orleans looking into special USFWS permits allowing for the 'incidental take' (killing) of some of the nesting endangered Piping Plover population due to the restriction of off the road vehicles (ORVs) and the possible loss of recreational tourist income for one month out of the summer.

What dichotomy. In practically the same breath we see ourselves as both caring protectors of our endangered species and suffering prey of the same. But what we do not see or will not see is that we (and our 'values' be they real estate, recreation or the like and 'toys') are the predators, at least, the most dangerous ones. 

We have nearly poisoned, trapped, shot and squeezed most of the natural predators (and wildlife) out of existence and replaced them with another, us and our human trappings. We have pushed wildlife into convenient sanctuaries and protected them with laws at least until we find those sanctuaries and laws inconvenient. We seem to have all of the bases covered.

But, when it comes to the Natural World we really don't see ourselves at all, do we? Somehow, we can only understand the value of wildlife as an extension of our own sense of self-value or, if you will, self importance. We seem to have assumed all of the rights and privileges for ourselves, seeing the rest as a 'playground' full of toys and entertainment for our own use.

The next time you see an ORV barreling through the sand dunes on a pleasure trip at the expense of a nesting endangered species or guns, poisons and traps used to eliminate the predators of that same endangered species ask yourself.

Who is the real predator?

donatracyfriendDona L. Tracy is a naturalist, photographer, writer, Founder and President of Wildcare Inc/Hudson Valley Raptor Center in Stanfordville, NY and New York State's first Master Wildlife Rehabilitator. She has worked with New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the past 25 years caring for threatened and endangered species, bringing about needed change in the laws that affect them, helping in the banning of certain toxin and pesticides in our environment and giving voice to the problems faced by wildlife in our rapidly changing environment and natural world.

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