ESCANABA - Growing up in the outdoors of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, there wasn't much concern over negatives. By negatives, I mean the things that were of potential or real harm to the natural resources.
During my life time we saw the decline of wildlife species that seemed to have occurred without explanation. That was until some research was performed and clearly found a cause that was correctable.
One example is our nations symbol, the Bald Eagle. It is estimated that in the early 18th century, the Bald Eagle population was 300,000 to 500,000, but by the 1950s there were only 412 nesting pairs in the 48 contiguous states of the US.
I was born in a period when the eagles were plentiful. It was not uncommon to see one in the area and their presence was taken for granted. It was also a time when new discoveries in science were coming forward with the intention of making life better for us. Pesticides were used broadly to protect us from nuisance bugs and to assist agriculture in gaining stronger yields of crops without problems with infestation. It was later discovered to be one of the principal reasons birds like the eagle were diminishing in population to a point they became endangered.
Urban sprawl was also a factor in loss of habitat and the decline of the magnificent bird, but the secondary effect of pollution (i.e. Pesticides) played a major role.
Since protective measures were implemented, such as the declaration of the Bald Eagle as an endangered species in 1967 and the banning of DDT in 1972, the Bald Eagle was taken off the endangered list in 1995. Today the most contemporary concern about the survival of the big bird is an increase in vehicle accidents as some are hit while feeding on road killed wildlife.
Tim Kobasic is outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet Saturday mornings.
Back then, those in charge of managing our natural resources researched the problem, found a cause and implemented a plan of resolve.
Now fast forward to today and what we are facing with concern over not the loss of native wildlife from pollution, but the infestation of other forms of non-native wildlife and invasive species of plant life that are coming into this country thanks mostly in part due to the globalization of economies and the attempts to have free reign (or that anything goes).
When anyone first heard of the invasion of zebra mussel to the Great Lakes, we were all panic stricken in knowing what the long term effects their presence would bring to the fresh water fisheries.
The zebra mussel's impact on micro-organisms would disrupt not only the food chain, the removal of this link in the chain of water habitat would alter the ability of fish to survive with completing sub-surface plant life and warming temperatures that eventually become incompatible with life.
Today there are numerous other invasive aquatic nuisance species that have established themselves not only in the Great Lakes, but are spreading into the inland waterways as well, a lot of which is due to the apathy of the users in transferring them by use of contaminated watercraft, all the way to use of some for bait fishing.
We know the source of the contamination, it is commonly a side affect of ocean going commercial ships that dump their ballast once they enter into the Great Lakes. The problem is the politics to get those border countries and government entities to put aside the impact it may have on commerce to think about the resource first and the future complications that may occur if not soon dealt with.
If it means someone will have to suffer financially for bringing in Asian Carp that are migrating from the Mississippi River through the locks in Illinois, don't hold back and give some band-aid fix a chance to see if will help forestall the problem. Do it!
What has to be done is we need to see a government that will work to keep our culture and heritage exclusive to the rest of the world. We are unique and have a quality of life second to none. It won't stay that way if common sense ceases to prevail in the minds of decision makers.
It is my hope that the new decade will bring a wave of ambition to our government to protect that of which is ours. I want the ability to fish and hunt and bring home game for consumption without worry that it is contaminated or that I am wasting my time because the walleye are no more, or the grouse and deer are gone to make way for other politically correct species that are either introduced based on commercially driven initiatives, or because the naive non-outdoors conservation minded are told they have a right to be there.
I am tired of knowing a solution exists but no one is moving forward to implement it due to funding constraints or turf wars between competing government agencies.
I want to see the next decade evolve into a fundamentally based conservation management system that thinks of the resources first. Say nay to the politicians that have an agenda that walks them before the grandstand first. Worry about the consequences of our actions and what they may hold towards the future.
We need to use history to demonstrate how the fundamentals of conservation were laid our for us a century ago and if followed to the letter, will make it easy to get back on track.
There, I've had my say. Happy New Year.