Hunger: Climate Change in the Okanagan, 7

Here’s one of last year’s fawns looking thin as all get out. Well, yeah. Mule deer browse on willows and Douglas fir in the winter, out of the snow. Here, that means they go high up, on the edges of the golf course. They also need a diversity of plants to aid their digestion, especially grasslands branching out from the firs. Here, those are golf courses, where the snow is deep and the coyotes smarter than all get out. This one is grazing with its mother and an aunt among the houses of a subdivision. This grove of sage is slated for development. After all, the Okanagan’s human population, which reached carrying capacity in 1992, increases by about 2,000 people a year. We’re double carrying capacity now. In 20 years, there’ll be another 100,000 people. This deer will be dead by then, but her granddaughters might be very hungry indeed.

Especially when you consider that the sagebrush here is overmature. Mule deer will eat sagebrush, but they also need the grasses and spring plants that the sagebrush here is choking out. It can’t be burned, as it should be, because of the houses, and the lack of engineering to resist natural fire. The result is an unnatural landscape and hunger. Right now, there’s a lot of concern about the effect the Site C Dam will have on B.C.’s northern grasslands. Truth is, it’s an expensive, ugly picture of political bungling, engineering foolishness, and environmental disaster. I’d just like to point out that here, in the Okanagan, protest about this lunacy is not the point, really, because here it is humans that are the Site C Dam. There are too many of us. Protest and activism will do nothing. So, if you want to be hungry, in an empty Earth, move here. If you want to make a difference, make some space. The only hope in this human-instigated climate change is if we make more space than is already here. For instance, if 90% of those sage brushes were removed, and some more diverse grassland plants were encouraged, if the streets were lined with Douglas fir rather than maples, and landscaping was of native willows rather than smoke bush from Bulgaria, and, um, cough cough…

… maybe not prickly berry bushes of use to neither deer nor birds but excellent at caching tumble mustard, then we’d have more habitat, and more deer and bird space than are currently here. It would require some human adjustment, but, hey, shouldn’t one adjust when one moves to a new culture?

You can’t cheat, though. Putting out apples that you can’t stomach, so the wildlife can eat them, just won’t wash. You can’t get away that easily.

The animals don’t want them either.

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