Endangered species

The King of the Forest Meets the Wildfires Now

What’s a guy to eat? Not this dried out stuff. Hurt your gums, throat and gut to chaw on this cellulose.

Invasive Crested Wheatgrass

What a guy might want is something native to the place, right? But not the bunchgrass, not this year:

No seeds left = no nutrition. Rather like eating a sheet of card board.

Aha! Off to the hunter’s house. He has a lot of trucks.

And a cedar hedge!

But, that’s the thing. You and your buddies have trimmed that thing down to a nub. All that’s left is old leaves, with no buds on them, and, yeah, no buds and it’s like crested wheat grass and seedless bunchgrass all at once, just nicer smelling. Well, time to move on…

Two houses down, there was a nice hedge. One remembers these things. Warning: this is the moment at which the buck confronts the human response to climate change.

“What? Gone? All Gone!”

On the night in August when the fire jumped Okanagan Lake and ashes drifted for a dozen kilometres on the wind, this hedge came down to reduce fire risk. Awfully confusing for a mule deer, though. Nothing on the hill and nothing here, either. Even the giant rye that supported a herd of 20 for a few weeks a couple years back, is seedless this winter. It was just too hot, even for grasses. They shifted their seasons in response. They’ll be all right, but they can’t help anyone else like this.

But now what? This two thousand acres, where this buck spent the winters of his youth is off-limits now, locked behind a high fence to keep humans out by keeping him out, although the plan is to turn less than 10% of the land into wine. No place for him there, even though there is.

That green grass? This stuff? Could he eat that?

No, that’s cheat grass. Deer won’t touch it. They do eat young bunchgrass, where it survives amidst the sagebrush and the cheat grass…

No bunchgrass here!

… but cattle took it out on the majority of the slopes in the last five years. These are the kind of problems we are going to have to face soon. Do we want neat landscaping or deer? Do we want to be fire safe in town or do we want deer (or birds, or insects, or cedars, or grass, or any creatures other than humans?) Why, just four weeks ago, that buck was nibbling cedar hedges here.

It’s a false choice. If we decide not to have deer, then we are sitting on a dead Earth. Perhaps we’ll be able to eat green stuff grown in test tubes. This buck is almost there ahead of us:

We have to change everything. Wildfire, landscaping, cattle grazing, wine-growing, private property rights, climate change, it makes little difference where we start, because they are all the same thing. We are treating a living place like it is Mars. Ultimately, that disrespects humans as well.

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