In a recent (9/27/2013) TED Radio Hour Podcast entitled Everything is Connected, I heard an interview with author of the book Feral, George Monbiot. He talks about stumbling across the word “Rewilding” which, according to the website of the Rewilding Institute means “the scientific argument for restoring big wilderness based on the regulatory roles of large predators”. This is what we have seen in the Yellowstone ecosystem with the return of timber wolves. Monbiot claims in the interview that profound changes have occurred to the entire ecosystem as a result of the reintroduction of the wolves. The natural reduction of the deer and elk populations resulted in regeneration of plant life, leading to an increase in populations of birds, beavers, and bears and, most remarkable, the “behavior” of the rivers and streams. More plant life meant less erosion causing channels to change course and become more fixed. The reintroduction of wolves, he claims, changed the physical geography of Yellowstone. Who would have thought?
Monbiot is a huge advocate for rewilding. He lost me when he began talking about reintroducing rhinos, hippos, and lions to Europe and the UK – because fossilized bones indicate that they had once lived there – but then he went on to say something that really caught my attention. In talking about his desire for us to step back and let nature decide, he said rewilding is about the future and the hope of bringing back lost species, while much of our modern conservation work is about the past and trying to lock-in past ecosystems as we know them now. Rewilding, he says, gives us hope where we currently have despair. We need to replace the “Silent Spring” with a “Raucous Summer”.
All of this was rattling around my brain when I saw the news headline about the discovery of Bigfoot in Kentucky. A veterinarian, who leads something called the Sasquatch Genome Project, has been conducting an analysis of DNA samples she has collected and concludes that Sasquatch is a human relative that arose about 13,000 years ago. Unfortunately, while the Sasquatch Genome Project claimed in a February report to have submitted 113 samples of hair, blood, saliva and other tissues to laboratories, including New York University, NYU officials say they never accepted samples. A professor at the Department of Anthropology at NYU, told ABCNews.com that the research was “just a joke.”
So, is it hope I felt when a small voice deep within my emotional self tried to tell my rational self that, with the Sasquatch Genome Project on the case, Bigfoot might be real?
“It’s a JOKE,” says my rational self. “But let’s release some timber wolves into the area and find out once and for all.”
Now there’s a Rewilding project to give us some hope!