Traditional recipes

National Park Considers Banning Food Following Slew of Bear Sightings

National Park Considers Banning Food Following Slew of Bear Sightings

String Lake, located at Grand Teton National Park, is a popular area that bears frequent for food

Visitors have been deliberately and accidentally feeding bears food at String Lake.

Officials at Grand Teton National Park are considering banning food at String Lake following multiple bear sightings at the picnic area.

Andrew White, spokesman for the Wyoming park, told Jackson Hole News & Guide that visitors are both deliberately and accidentally feeding the bears.

Over the past three years, park employees have noticed that people leave their food unattended at the picnic area while they swim in the lake. There have also been reports of park-goers feeding bears directly. In a recent incident, a bear approached a picnic table, scared the people eating away, and stole a sandwich.

“She didn’t bother them, she was just interested in the food,” White told Jackson Hole News.

The bears also steal food and drinks from backpacks, coolers, and trash bags.

Grand Teton National Park’s website advises park visitors to not feed bears other wildlife for any reason, saying, “Failure to follow park food storage regulations is a violation of federal law.”


JIM STERBA'S HOME PAGE

By the 1990s the deer population had exploded. Various estimates for the United States put it at 25 to 40 million and growing unchecked, and apparently uncheckable. By 2006 this vast and scattered herd was being called “a mass transit system for ticks carrying Lyme disease.” Sterba’s figures put deer damage to farm crops and forests at more than $850 million the deer had eaten $250 million worth of landscaping, gardens, and shrubbery. By eating plants that grew under large trees they damaged songbird habitats and put certain bird groups at risk.

“But threats to forests and songbirds paled in comparison to the whitetail’s menace to people in the form of collisions of deer and motor vehicles, which were occurring at a rate of three thousand to four thousand per day,” according to Sterba. “The toll of cars crumpled, people killed and injured, Lyme disease contracted, gardens destroyed, crops eaten, and forests damaged,” he writes, justified The New York Times’s editorial conclusion that “white-tailed deer are a plague.”

Sterba lists several factors that made “such beautiful creatures become so much trouble.” These include a lack of predators, a decline in hunting, changes in habitat, mismanagement by state wildlife agencies, and human sprawl.

Whitetails are “quick studies,” he writes. It took them very little time to discover that “people who have sprawled across the landscape aren’t the predators they used to be.” The sprawl people brought with them attitudes that created ideal conditions for a whitetail explosion. Sprawl culture with its “exurban subdivisions, big-box houses on multiacre plots, weekend places, second homes, hobby farms, and even semiworking farms” created “a mosaic of hiding places, open places, feeding places, watering places, bedding places.” Moreover, sprawl people grew many plants they did not eat, harvest, or market. Using “prodigious amounts of fertilizer, water, and hired labor, they grew plants mainly to look at.” They created “deer nirvana,” a wildlife biologist said.

Then, says Sterba, they made one last crucial adjustment: they cleared the landscape of the last major deer predator remaining: themselves. Most did not hunt. They posted their property with “No Hunting” signs and passed laws against discharging firearms that effectively put large areas of landscape off limits for hunting:

Suddenly, for the first time in eleven thousand years, hundreds of thousands of square miles in the heart of the white-tailed deer’s historic range were largely off limits to one of its biggest predators. Suddenly, an animal instinctively wary of predators, including Homo sapiens, found itself in a lush habitat where major predators—drivers being the exception—didn’t exist.
Thinking of possible ways to avert a disaster in deer–human conflicts, Sterba imagines a return of the human predator. He writes of “professional” hunters who are seen as “new saviors” in some suburbs where sharpshooters are hired to kill deer and are paid with tax dollars. He describes a proposal to have professionals train local hunters to become “urban deer managers,” with the costs offset by selling venison in farmers’ markets. “It seems like a good solution,” he concludes, “but it probably won’t happen anytime soon.”

Copyright © 1963-2013 NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
By Donna Seaman
9:19 p.m. CST, November 11, 2012
    The drive from the Upstate New York airport to my parents' house took longer than the flight from Chicago, and I was elated to finally be in sight of the house. But the driveway was occupied by deer. Five elegant young does turned their large, deep, dark eyes on us with the disdain of teenagers annoyed at being interrupted. We gazed back, simultaneously thrilled by the proximity to such beautiful animals and impatient to park and stretch our legs. The deer flicked their tails, swiveled their ears, nosed the ground and slowly, grudgingly, sashayed onto the grass.
    As we extracted ourselves from the car, they gracefully promenaded across the lawn, slipping in among the trees along a busy street that funnels traffic onto Route 9, the heavily traveled highway that parallels the Hudson River.
    Jim Sterba, a distinguished foreign correspondent and national affairs reporter who was in the thick of things in Asia during and after the Vietnam War, escapes New York City on the weekends to stay in Dutchess County, not far from where I grew up. Sterba's first book, "Frankie's Place," is a memoir about courting and marrying his wife, the journalist and author Frances FitzGerald, whose own account of the Vietnam War, "Fire in the Lake," won the Pulitzer Prize.     His second book, "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds," is about why herds of deer now occupy our driveways and yards, eating our flowers and plants.
    Sterba begins "Nature Wars" with an impressive roll call of all the wildlife he and his wife see around the cottage they rent on a former 180-acre dairy farm. As I read this census, I find myself nodding. Even in our Poughkeepsie neighborhood, we see lots of different songbirds, woodpeckers, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, woodchucks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, beavers, ducks, eagles, turtles and blue heron. But there was no such cavalcade of wildlife when I still lived at home, back around the time I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."
    This fall marks the 50th anniversary of Carson's galvanizing exposé of the "sinister" effects of DDT and other chemical pesticides that were in widespread and wanton use following World War II. Carson's now classic book of warning begins with "A Fable for Tomorrow," which presents a world in grim opposition to the vitality Sterba describes.
    "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." Carson describes "prosperous farms," wildflowers, trees, an "abundance and variety" of bird life, streams full of fish, deer and foxes, all abruptly transformed when "a strange blight crept over the area . a shadow of death." Animals, people, plants and trees began to sicken and die. "There was a strange stillness." What caused this catastrophe? "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves."
    Carson's clarion book has been compared to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in terms of its role as a catalyst for social change. The environmental movement did coalesce in the wake of "Silent Spring," and laws were passed to protect endangered species and the air, water and land that sustain all of life. Even so, environmental threats continue to multiply. The battles to protect wetlands, forests, rivers, oceans, public lands and wildlife against pollution, destruction, decimation and global warming rage on. Environmental writers continued to sound the alarm. Carson wrote that science and literature share the same mission, to "discover and illuminate truth," and her intrepid and eloquent followers are many, including Gretel Ehrlich, John McPhee, Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben, Carl Safina, David Quammen and Elizabeth Kolbert. Yet there have been some phenomenal improvements. The facts about wildlife resurgence that Sterba present in his mind-bending dispatch from the new world of "people-wildlife conflicts" are startling and staggering.
    Remember the coyote who sauntered into a downtown Chicago Quiznos? The cougar Chicago police shot dead in Roscoe Village? Consider the more routine animal nuisances: herds of garden-devouring deer, gaggles of excreting Canadian geese and battalions of beavers busy chewing down cherished trees and building dams that cause infrastructure-damaging floods and even disrupt "the water flows around electrical power generation facilities." We have sprawled into animal terrain, building houses, malls, corporate parks and golf courses, and now, Sterba writes, "critters have encroached right back." And why not? We have enhanced their habitats and eliminated predators — although we do accidentally kill an appalling number of animals with our cars, and millions of birds die in collisions with high-rise windows. Filled with wonder over the beautiful animals that are now all around us, we feed wild birds (supporting a hugely profitable bird seed industry) and even coyotes and bears, inviting deadly attacks. And don't get Sterba started on the subject of feral cats.
    It is exciting to see wildlife. Consider, there were no deer left in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio by the late 19th century. No beavers anywhere. Restocking and restoration efforts have been a tremendous, resounding success. We owe profound thanks not only to environmental writers, but also to all the unsung biologists, environmentalists, policymakers, attorneys, grass-roots activists, government staffers and politicians who ensured that we averted ecological disaster 40 years ago. But just as we had no clue as to what havoc we were unleashing with the use of DDT, we have not been aware of the consequences of renewed animal populations. We've even been oblivious, Sterba tells us, to the return of the trees. The halt to deforestation in the late 19th century initiated an era of luxurious regrowth. Citing tree counts and aerial survey, Sterba asserts that we are all, in essence, forest dwellers now, even those of us who live in the heart of big cities. Trees support wildlife.
    Sterba is ferociously well-informed and lucid in his chronicling of "how we turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess." His book is a tale of noble intentions and unintended consequences, ignorance and aggression, idealism and irony, reality and responsibility.
    Here's one example of the many Sterba considers. Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling — nicknamed "Ding" because he "regularly dinged (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt" — was also "an ardent and knowledgeable conservationist." So FDR appointed him to a committee formed to figure out a way to restore the country's imperiled waterfowl. Also on board was Wisconsin-based Aldo Leopold of "A Sand County Almanac" fame, the man who founded the profession of game management. Leopold's paradigm-alerting land ethic, as he explained, "changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." This crucial land ethic also "enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." A vision to live by.
    Roosevelt then appointed Darling director of what would become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (for which Carson later worked). Darling proved to be a formidable and effective protector of ducks and geese, so much so that his agency inadvertently established the very conditions that nurtured today's immense population of "nuisance" Canadian geese.
    So we find ourselves in a quandary. American wildlife has rebounded from near-extinction to overabundance, and many of us recoil from the need to cull animal populations.
    How easy it is to hold fast to outmoded assumptions, to grow rigid in one's perceptions, to tune out the "other side." Thoroughly researched and powerfully written books such as "Silent Spring" and "Nature Wars" induce us to question our thinking, opinions and values. It's one thing to argue that animals are sentient beings and that we should never abuse or unnecessarily kill them. It's another to allow naïve and wishful fantasies about wild animals to cloud our understanding of what's at stake when nature gets out of balance, even if it's thanks to our interference, however well-intentioned. We are going to have to figure out how to live safely with all those amazing and, yes, precious, deer, geese and beavers, those coyote and cougars and bears.
    Donna Seaman is a senior editor at Booklist and editor of the collection "In Our Nature."
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

    Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Well worth the effort if you are engaged in conservation issues. Sterba starts his book on the borders of Maine’s Acadia National Park. Seeing some grapevines choking off a ravine and stream, Sterba rips out the interloping vines so the original forest can take hold. But his research reveals that the vines were probably planted in the 19th century, when the entire area was bucolic farmland. John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought the land, which was turned over to Acadia in 1961, and a new forest devoured the pasture that existed before.

    That is the thesis of this book: The major annihilation of nature in the U.S. occurred in the late 19th century, when everything from buffalo to hardwood forests was felled wholesale. The conservationist efforts of the past 100 years have been so successful that wildlife such as coyotes, turkeys, bears, and deer — not long ago a sight so rare that Americans stopped their cars to get a look — have become plentiful pests. At times this book reads like a well-reported tabloid exaggeration, but it will surely make you look differently at the “narrative of loss” at the heart of our environmental news coverage.

AUDUBON MAGAZINE, Nov. 2012.

    Whether it’s deer in the backyard or raccoons in the chimney, nature is making a comeback—in suburbia. In his new book, Nature Wars, reporter Jim Sterba explores how, ironically, many Americans are living closer to nature than ever before—and how ill-equipped we are to deal with it. After centuries of uncontrolled hunting and clear-cutting devastated ecosystems, the environmental movement inspired people to try to restore some kind of natural balance. While conservationists have unquestionably made incredible strides, Sterba argues that, close to home, we’ve overcompensated, paving the way for wild creatures to live in our lushly landscaped environs—with plenty of food and protection—but not in harmony. Beavers flood septic systems, deer devour plants, and black bears forage in our trash bins. At the same time, some suburbanites shy away from management strategies such as hunting and trapping—activities that, along with enacting ordinances to ban feeding wildlife and requiring that trash be stored in more secure bins, can help municipalities overcome this growing problem, Sterba argues. "Groups have to come together to find ways to manage the natural space where they live for the good of the ecosystem as a whole and not simply one overabundant or problematic species within it."


JIM STERBA'S HOME PAGE

By the 1990s the deer population had exploded. Various estimates for the United States put it at 25 to 40 million and growing unchecked, and apparently uncheckable. By 2006 this vast and scattered herd was being called “a mass transit system for ticks carrying Lyme disease.” Sterba’s figures put deer damage to farm crops and forests at more than $850 million the deer had eaten $250 million worth of landscaping, gardens, and shrubbery. By eating plants that grew under large trees they damaged songbird habitats and put certain bird groups at risk.

“But threats to forests and songbirds paled in comparison to the whitetail’s menace to people in the form of collisions of deer and motor vehicles, which were occurring at a rate of three thousand to four thousand per day,” according to Sterba. “The toll of cars crumpled, people killed and injured, Lyme disease contracted, gardens destroyed, crops eaten, and forests damaged,” he writes, justified The New York Times’s editorial conclusion that “white-tailed deer are a plague.”

Sterba lists several factors that made “such beautiful creatures become so much trouble.” These include a lack of predators, a decline in hunting, changes in habitat, mismanagement by state wildlife agencies, and human sprawl.

Whitetails are “quick studies,” he writes. It took them very little time to discover that “people who have sprawled across the landscape aren’t the predators they used to be.” The sprawl people brought with them attitudes that created ideal conditions for a whitetail explosion. Sprawl culture with its “exurban subdivisions, big-box houses on multiacre plots, weekend places, second homes, hobby farms, and even semiworking farms” created “a mosaic of hiding places, open places, feeding places, watering places, bedding places.” Moreover, sprawl people grew many plants they did not eat, harvest, or market. Using “prodigious amounts of fertilizer, water, and hired labor, they grew plants mainly to look at.” They created “deer nirvana,” a wildlife biologist said.

Then, says Sterba, they made one last crucial adjustment: they cleared the landscape of the last major deer predator remaining: themselves. Most did not hunt. They posted their property with “No Hunting” signs and passed laws against discharging firearms that effectively put large areas of landscape off limits for hunting:

Suddenly, for the first time in eleven thousand years, hundreds of thousands of square miles in the heart of the white-tailed deer’s historic range were largely off limits to one of its biggest predators. Suddenly, an animal instinctively wary of predators, including Homo sapiens, found itself in a lush habitat where major predators—drivers being the exception—didn’t exist.
Thinking of possible ways to avert a disaster in deer–human conflicts, Sterba imagines a return of the human predator. He writes of “professional” hunters who are seen as “new saviors” in some suburbs where sharpshooters are hired to kill deer and are paid with tax dollars. He describes a proposal to have professionals train local hunters to become “urban deer managers,” with the costs offset by selling venison in farmers’ markets. “It seems like a good solution,” he concludes, “but it probably won’t happen anytime soon.”

Copyright © 1963-2013 NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
By Donna Seaman
9:19 p.m. CST, November 11, 2012
    The drive from the Upstate New York airport to my parents' house took longer than the flight from Chicago, and I was elated to finally be in sight of the house. But the driveway was occupied by deer. Five elegant young does turned their large, deep, dark eyes on us with the disdain of teenagers annoyed at being interrupted. We gazed back, simultaneously thrilled by the proximity to such beautiful animals and impatient to park and stretch our legs. The deer flicked their tails, swiveled their ears, nosed the ground and slowly, grudgingly, sashayed onto the grass.
    As we extracted ourselves from the car, they gracefully promenaded across the lawn, slipping in among the trees along a busy street that funnels traffic onto Route 9, the heavily traveled highway that parallels the Hudson River.
    Jim Sterba, a distinguished foreign correspondent and national affairs reporter who was in the thick of things in Asia during and after the Vietnam War, escapes New York City on the weekends to stay in Dutchess County, not far from where I grew up. Sterba's first book, "Frankie's Place," is a memoir about courting and marrying his wife, the journalist and author Frances FitzGerald, whose own account of the Vietnam War, "Fire in the Lake," won the Pulitzer Prize.     His second book, "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds," is about why herds of deer now occupy our driveways and yards, eating our flowers and plants.
    Sterba begins "Nature Wars" with an impressive roll call of all the wildlife he and his wife see around the cottage they rent on a former 180-acre dairy farm. As I read this census, I find myself nodding. Even in our Poughkeepsie neighborhood, we see lots of different songbirds, woodpeckers, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, woodchucks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, beavers, ducks, eagles, turtles and blue heron. But there was no such cavalcade of wildlife when I still lived at home, back around the time I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."
    This fall marks the 50th anniversary of Carson's galvanizing exposé of the "sinister" effects of DDT and other chemical pesticides that were in widespread and wanton use following World War II. Carson's now classic book of warning begins with "A Fable for Tomorrow," which presents a world in grim opposition to the vitality Sterba describes.
    "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." Carson describes "prosperous farms," wildflowers, trees, an "abundance and variety" of bird life, streams full of fish, deer and foxes, all abruptly transformed when "a strange blight crept over the area . a shadow of death." Animals, people, plants and trees began to sicken and die. "There was a strange stillness." What caused this catastrophe? "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves."
    Carson's clarion book has been compared to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in terms of its role as a catalyst for social change. The environmental movement did coalesce in the wake of "Silent Spring," and laws were passed to protect endangered species and the air, water and land that sustain all of life. Even so, environmental threats continue to multiply. The battles to protect wetlands, forests, rivers, oceans, public lands and wildlife against pollution, destruction, decimation and global warming rage on. Environmental writers continued to sound the alarm. Carson wrote that science and literature share the same mission, to "discover and illuminate truth," and her intrepid and eloquent followers are many, including Gretel Ehrlich, John McPhee, Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben, Carl Safina, David Quammen and Elizabeth Kolbert. Yet there have been some phenomenal improvements. The facts about wildlife resurgence that Sterba present in his mind-bending dispatch from the new world of "people-wildlife conflicts" are startling and staggering.
    Remember the coyote who sauntered into a downtown Chicago Quiznos? The cougar Chicago police shot dead in Roscoe Village? Consider the more routine animal nuisances: herds of garden-devouring deer, gaggles of excreting Canadian geese and battalions of beavers busy chewing down cherished trees and building dams that cause infrastructure-damaging floods and even disrupt "the water flows around electrical power generation facilities." We have sprawled into animal terrain, building houses, malls, corporate parks and golf courses, and now, Sterba writes, "critters have encroached right back." And why not? We have enhanced their habitats and eliminated predators — although we do accidentally kill an appalling number of animals with our cars, and millions of birds die in collisions with high-rise windows. Filled with wonder over the beautiful animals that are now all around us, we feed wild birds (supporting a hugely profitable bird seed industry) and even coyotes and bears, inviting deadly attacks. And don't get Sterba started on the subject of feral cats.
    It is exciting to see wildlife. Consider, there were no deer left in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio by the late 19th century. No beavers anywhere. Restocking and restoration efforts have been a tremendous, resounding success. We owe profound thanks not only to environmental writers, but also to all the unsung biologists, environmentalists, policymakers, attorneys, grass-roots activists, government staffers and politicians who ensured that we averted ecological disaster 40 years ago. But just as we had no clue as to what havoc we were unleashing with the use of DDT, we have not been aware of the consequences of renewed animal populations. We've even been oblivious, Sterba tells us, to the return of the trees. The halt to deforestation in the late 19th century initiated an era of luxurious regrowth. Citing tree counts and aerial survey, Sterba asserts that we are all, in essence, forest dwellers now, even those of us who live in the heart of big cities. Trees support wildlife.
    Sterba is ferociously well-informed and lucid in his chronicling of "how we turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess." His book is a tale of noble intentions and unintended consequences, ignorance and aggression, idealism and irony, reality and responsibility.
    Here's one example of the many Sterba considers. Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling — nicknamed "Ding" because he "regularly dinged (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt" — was also "an ardent and knowledgeable conservationist." So FDR appointed him to a committee formed to figure out a way to restore the country's imperiled waterfowl. Also on board was Wisconsin-based Aldo Leopold of "A Sand County Almanac" fame, the man who founded the profession of game management. Leopold's paradigm-alerting land ethic, as he explained, "changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." This crucial land ethic also "enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." A vision to live by.
    Roosevelt then appointed Darling director of what would become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (for which Carson later worked). Darling proved to be a formidable and effective protector of ducks and geese, so much so that his agency inadvertently established the very conditions that nurtured today's immense population of "nuisance" Canadian geese.
    So we find ourselves in a quandary. American wildlife has rebounded from near-extinction to overabundance, and many of us recoil from the need to cull animal populations.
    How easy it is to hold fast to outmoded assumptions, to grow rigid in one's perceptions, to tune out the "other side." Thoroughly researched and powerfully written books such as "Silent Spring" and "Nature Wars" induce us to question our thinking, opinions and values. It's one thing to argue that animals are sentient beings and that we should never abuse or unnecessarily kill them. It's another to allow naïve and wishful fantasies about wild animals to cloud our understanding of what's at stake when nature gets out of balance, even if it's thanks to our interference, however well-intentioned. We are going to have to figure out how to live safely with all those amazing and, yes, precious, deer, geese and beavers, those coyote and cougars and bears.
    Donna Seaman is a senior editor at Booklist and editor of the collection "In Our Nature."
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

    Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Well worth the effort if you are engaged in conservation issues. Sterba starts his book on the borders of Maine’s Acadia National Park. Seeing some grapevines choking off a ravine and stream, Sterba rips out the interloping vines so the original forest can take hold. But his research reveals that the vines were probably planted in the 19th century, when the entire area was bucolic farmland. John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought the land, which was turned over to Acadia in 1961, and a new forest devoured the pasture that existed before.

    That is the thesis of this book: The major annihilation of nature in the U.S. occurred in the late 19th century, when everything from buffalo to hardwood forests was felled wholesale. The conservationist efforts of the past 100 years have been so successful that wildlife such as coyotes, turkeys, bears, and deer — not long ago a sight so rare that Americans stopped their cars to get a look — have become plentiful pests. At times this book reads like a well-reported tabloid exaggeration, but it will surely make you look differently at the “narrative of loss” at the heart of our environmental news coverage.

AUDUBON MAGAZINE, Nov. 2012.

    Whether it’s deer in the backyard or raccoons in the chimney, nature is making a comeback—in suburbia. In his new book, Nature Wars, reporter Jim Sterba explores how, ironically, many Americans are living closer to nature than ever before—and how ill-equipped we are to deal with it. After centuries of uncontrolled hunting and clear-cutting devastated ecosystems, the environmental movement inspired people to try to restore some kind of natural balance. While conservationists have unquestionably made incredible strides, Sterba argues that, close to home, we’ve overcompensated, paving the way for wild creatures to live in our lushly landscaped environs—with plenty of food and protection—but not in harmony. Beavers flood septic systems, deer devour plants, and black bears forage in our trash bins. At the same time, some suburbanites shy away from management strategies such as hunting and trapping—activities that, along with enacting ordinances to ban feeding wildlife and requiring that trash be stored in more secure bins, can help municipalities overcome this growing problem, Sterba argues. "Groups have to come together to find ways to manage the natural space where they live for the good of the ecosystem as a whole and not simply one overabundant or problematic species within it."


JIM STERBA'S HOME PAGE

By the 1990s the deer population had exploded. Various estimates for the United States put it at 25 to 40 million and growing unchecked, and apparently uncheckable. By 2006 this vast and scattered herd was being called “a mass transit system for ticks carrying Lyme disease.” Sterba’s figures put deer damage to farm crops and forests at more than $850 million the deer had eaten $250 million worth of landscaping, gardens, and shrubbery. By eating plants that grew under large trees they damaged songbird habitats and put certain bird groups at risk.

“But threats to forests and songbirds paled in comparison to the whitetail’s menace to people in the form of collisions of deer and motor vehicles, which were occurring at a rate of three thousand to four thousand per day,” according to Sterba. “The toll of cars crumpled, people killed and injured, Lyme disease contracted, gardens destroyed, crops eaten, and forests damaged,” he writes, justified The New York Times’s editorial conclusion that “white-tailed deer are a plague.”

Sterba lists several factors that made “such beautiful creatures become so much trouble.” These include a lack of predators, a decline in hunting, changes in habitat, mismanagement by state wildlife agencies, and human sprawl.

Whitetails are “quick studies,” he writes. It took them very little time to discover that “people who have sprawled across the landscape aren’t the predators they used to be.” The sprawl people brought with them attitudes that created ideal conditions for a whitetail explosion. Sprawl culture with its “exurban subdivisions, big-box houses on multiacre plots, weekend places, second homes, hobby farms, and even semiworking farms” created “a mosaic of hiding places, open places, feeding places, watering places, bedding places.” Moreover, sprawl people grew many plants they did not eat, harvest, or market. Using “prodigious amounts of fertilizer, water, and hired labor, they grew plants mainly to look at.” They created “deer nirvana,” a wildlife biologist said.

Then, says Sterba, they made one last crucial adjustment: they cleared the landscape of the last major deer predator remaining: themselves. Most did not hunt. They posted their property with “No Hunting” signs and passed laws against discharging firearms that effectively put large areas of landscape off limits for hunting:

Suddenly, for the first time in eleven thousand years, hundreds of thousands of square miles in the heart of the white-tailed deer’s historic range were largely off limits to one of its biggest predators. Suddenly, an animal instinctively wary of predators, including Homo sapiens, found itself in a lush habitat where major predators—drivers being the exception—didn’t exist.
Thinking of possible ways to avert a disaster in deer–human conflicts, Sterba imagines a return of the human predator. He writes of “professional” hunters who are seen as “new saviors” in some suburbs where sharpshooters are hired to kill deer and are paid with tax dollars. He describes a proposal to have professionals train local hunters to become “urban deer managers,” with the costs offset by selling venison in farmers’ markets. “It seems like a good solution,” he concludes, “but it probably won’t happen anytime soon.”

Copyright © 1963-2013 NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
By Donna Seaman
9:19 p.m. CST, November 11, 2012
    The drive from the Upstate New York airport to my parents' house took longer than the flight from Chicago, and I was elated to finally be in sight of the house. But the driveway was occupied by deer. Five elegant young does turned their large, deep, dark eyes on us with the disdain of teenagers annoyed at being interrupted. We gazed back, simultaneously thrilled by the proximity to such beautiful animals and impatient to park and stretch our legs. The deer flicked their tails, swiveled their ears, nosed the ground and slowly, grudgingly, sashayed onto the grass.
    As we extracted ourselves from the car, they gracefully promenaded across the lawn, slipping in among the trees along a busy street that funnels traffic onto Route 9, the heavily traveled highway that parallels the Hudson River.
    Jim Sterba, a distinguished foreign correspondent and national affairs reporter who was in the thick of things in Asia during and after the Vietnam War, escapes New York City on the weekends to stay in Dutchess County, not far from where I grew up. Sterba's first book, "Frankie's Place," is a memoir about courting and marrying his wife, the journalist and author Frances FitzGerald, whose own account of the Vietnam War, "Fire in the Lake," won the Pulitzer Prize.     His second book, "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds," is about why herds of deer now occupy our driveways and yards, eating our flowers and plants.
    Sterba begins "Nature Wars" with an impressive roll call of all the wildlife he and his wife see around the cottage they rent on a former 180-acre dairy farm. As I read this census, I find myself nodding. Even in our Poughkeepsie neighborhood, we see lots of different songbirds, woodpeckers, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, woodchucks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, beavers, ducks, eagles, turtles and blue heron. But there was no such cavalcade of wildlife when I still lived at home, back around the time I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."
    This fall marks the 50th anniversary of Carson's galvanizing exposé of the "sinister" effects of DDT and other chemical pesticides that were in widespread and wanton use following World War II. Carson's now classic book of warning begins with "A Fable for Tomorrow," which presents a world in grim opposition to the vitality Sterba describes.
    "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." Carson describes "prosperous farms," wildflowers, trees, an "abundance and variety" of bird life, streams full of fish, deer and foxes, all abruptly transformed when "a strange blight crept over the area . a shadow of death." Animals, people, plants and trees began to sicken and die. "There was a strange stillness." What caused this catastrophe? "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves."
    Carson's clarion book has been compared to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in terms of its role as a catalyst for social change. The environmental movement did coalesce in the wake of "Silent Spring," and laws were passed to protect endangered species and the air, water and land that sustain all of life. Even so, environmental threats continue to multiply. The battles to protect wetlands, forests, rivers, oceans, public lands and wildlife against pollution, destruction, decimation and global warming rage on. Environmental writers continued to sound the alarm. Carson wrote that science and literature share the same mission, to "discover and illuminate truth," and her intrepid and eloquent followers are many, including Gretel Ehrlich, John McPhee, Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben, Carl Safina, David Quammen and Elizabeth Kolbert. Yet there have been some phenomenal improvements. The facts about wildlife resurgence that Sterba present in his mind-bending dispatch from the new world of "people-wildlife conflicts" are startling and staggering.
    Remember the coyote who sauntered into a downtown Chicago Quiznos? The cougar Chicago police shot dead in Roscoe Village? Consider the more routine animal nuisances: herds of garden-devouring deer, gaggles of excreting Canadian geese and battalions of beavers busy chewing down cherished trees and building dams that cause infrastructure-damaging floods and even disrupt "the water flows around electrical power generation facilities." We have sprawled into animal terrain, building houses, malls, corporate parks and golf courses, and now, Sterba writes, "critters have encroached right back." And why not? We have enhanced their habitats and eliminated predators — although we do accidentally kill an appalling number of animals with our cars, and millions of birds die in collisions with high-rise windows. Filled with wonder over the beautiful animals that are now all around us, we feed wild birds (supporting a hugely profitable bird seed industry) and even coyotes and bears, inviting deadly attacks. And don't get Sterba started on the subject of feral cats.
    It is exciting to see wildlife. Consider, there were no deer left in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio by the late 19th century. No beavers anywhere. Restocking and restoration efforts have been a tremendous, resounding success. We owe profound thanks not only to environmental writers, but also to all the unsung biologists, environmentalists, policymakers, attorneys, grass-roots activists, government staffers and politicians who ensured that we averted ecological disaster 40 years ago. But just as we had no clue as to what havoc we were unleashing with the use of DDT, we have not been aware of the consequences of renewed animal populations. We've even been oblivious, Sterba tells us, to the return of the trees. The halt to deforestation in the late 19th century initiated an era of luxurious regrowth. Citing tree counts and aerial survey, Sterba asserts that we are all, in essence, forest dwellers now, even those of us who live in the heart of big cities. Trees support wildlife.
    Sterba is ferociously well-informed and lucid in his chronicling of "how we turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess." His book is a tale of noble intentions and unintended consequences, ignorance and aggression, idealism and irony, reality and responsibility.
    Here's one example of the many Sterba considers. Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling — nicknamed "Ding" because he "regularly dinged (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt" — was also "an ardent and knowledgeable conservationist." So FDR appointed him to a committee formed to figure out a way to restore the country's imperiled waterfowl. Also on board was Wisconsin-based Aldo Leopold of "A Sand County Almanac" fame, the man who founded the profession of game management. Leopold's paradigm-alerting land ethic, as he explained, "changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." This crucial land ethic also "enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." A vision to live by.
    Roosevelt then appointed Darling director of what would become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (for which Carson later worked). Darling proved to be a formidable and effective protector of ducks and geese, so much so that his agency inadvertently established the very conditions that nurtured today's immense population of "nuisance" Canadian geese.
    So we find ourselves in a quandary. American wildlife has rebounded from near-extinction to overabundance, and many of us recoil from the need to cull animal populations.
    How easy it is to hold fast to outmoded assumptions, to grow rigid in one's perceptions, to tune out the "other side." Thoroughly researched and powerfully written books such as "Silent Spring" and "Nature Wars" induce us to question our thinking, opinions and values. It's one thing to argue that animals are sentient beings and that we should never abuse or unnecessarily kill them. It's another to allow naïve and wishful fantasies about wild animals to cloud our understanding of what's at stake when nature gets out of balance, even if it's thanks to our interference, however well-intentioned. We are going to have to figure out how to live safely with all those amazing and, yes, precious, deer, geese and beavers, those coyote and cougars and bears.
    Donna Seaman is a senior editor at Booklist and editor of the collection "In Our Nature."
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

    Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Well worth the effort if you are engaged in conservation issues. Sterba starts his book on the borders of Maine’s Acadia National Park. Seeing some grapevines choking off a ravine and stream, Sterba rips out the interloping vines so the original forest can take hold. But his research reveals that the vines were probably planted in the 19th century, when the entire area was bucolic farmland. John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought the land, which was turned over to Acadia in 1961, and a new forest devoured the pasture that existed before.

    That is the thesis of this book: The major annihilation of nature in the U.S. occurred in the late 19th century, when everything from buffalo to hardwood forests was felled wholesale. The conservationist efforts of the past 100 years have been so successful that wildlife such as coyotes, turkeys, bears, and deer — not long ago a sight so rare that Americans stopped their cars to get a look — have become plentiful pests. At times this book reads like a well-reported tabloid exaggeration, but it will surely make you look differently at the “narrative of loss” at the heart of our environmental news coverage.

AUDUBON MAGAZINE, Nov. 2012.

    Whether it’s deer in the backyard or raccoons in the chimney, nature is making a comeback—in suburbia. In his new book, Nature Wars, reporter Jim Sterba explores how, ironically, many Americans are living closer to nature than ever before—and how ill-equipped we are to deal with it. After centuries of uncontrolled hunting and clear-cutting devastated ecosystems, the environmental movement inspired people to try to restore some kind of natural balance. While conservationists have unquestionably made incredible strides, Sterba argues that, close to home, we’ve overcompensated, paving the way for wild creatures to live in our lushly landscaped environs—with plenty of food and protection—but not in harmony. Beavers flood septic systems, deer devour plants, and black bears forage in our trash bins. At the same time, some suburbanites shy away from management strategies such as hunting and trapping—activities that, along with enacting ordinances to ban feeding wildlife and requiring that trash be stored in more secure bins, can help municipalities overcome this growing problem, Sterba argues. "Groups have to come together to find ways to manage the natural space where they live for the good of the ecosystem as a whole and not simply one overabundant or problematic species within it."


JIM STERBA'S HOME PAGE

By the 1990s the deer population had exploded. Various estimates for the United States put it at 25 to 40 million and growing unchecked, and apparently uncheckable. By 2006 this vast and scattered herd was being called “a mass transit system for ticks carrying Lyme disease.” Sterba’s figures put deer damage to farm crops and forests at more than $850 million the deer had eaten $250 million worth of landscaping, gardens, and shrubbery. By eating plants that grew under large trees they damaged songbird habitats and put certain bird groups at risk.

“But threats to forests and songbirds paled in comparison to the whitetail’s menace to people in the form of collisions of deer and motor vehicles, which were occurring at a rate of three thousand to four thousand per day,” according to Sterba. “The toll of cars crumpled, people killed and injured, Lyme disease contracted, gardens destroyed, crops eaten, and forests damaged,” he writes, justified The New York Times’s editorial conclusion that “white-tailed deer are a plague.”

Sterba lists several factors that made “such beautiful creatures become so much trouble.” These include a lack of predators, a decline in hunting, changes in habitat, mismanagement by state wildlife agencies, and human sprawl.

Whitetails are “quick studies,” he writes. It took them very little time to discover that “people who have sprawled across the landscape aren’t the predators they used to be.” The sprawl people brought with them attitudes that created ideal conditions for a whitetail explosion. Sprawl culture with its “exurban subdivisions, big-box houses on multiacre plots, weekend places, second homes, hobby farms, and even semiworking farms” created “a mosaic of hiding places, open places, feeding places, watering places, bedding places.” Moreover, sprawl people grew many plants they did not eat, harvest, or market. Using “prodigious amounts of fertilizer, water, and hired labor, they grew plants mainly to look at.” They created “deer nirvana,” a wildlife biologist said.

Then, says Sterba, they made one last crucial adjustment: they cleared the landscape of the last major deer predator remaining: themselves. Most did not hunt. They posted their property with “No Hunting” signs and passed laws against discharging firearms that effectively put large areas of landscape off limits for hunting:

Suddenly, for the first time in eleven thousand years, hundreds of thousands of square miles in the heart of the white-tailed deer’s historic range were largely off limits to one of its biggest predators. Suddenly, an animal instinctively wary of predators, including Homo sapiens, found itself in a lush habitat where major predators—drivers being the exception—didn’t exist.
Thinking of possible ways to avert a disaster in deer–human conflicts, Sterba imagines a return of the human predator. He writes of “professional” hunters who are seen as “new saviors” in some suburbs where sharpshooters are hired to kill deer and are paid with tax dollars. He describes a proposal to have professionals train local hunters to become “urban deer managers,” with the costs offset by selling venison in farmers’ markets. “It seems like a good solution,” he concludes, “but it probably won’t happen anytime soon.”

Copyright © 1963-2013 NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
By Donna Seaman
9:19 p.m. CST, November 11, 2012
    The drive from the Upstate New York airport to my parents' house took longer than the flight from Chicago, and I was elated to finally be in sight of the house. But the driveway was occupied by deer. Five elegant young does turned their large, deep, dark eyes on us with the disdain of teenagers annoyed at being interrupted. We gazed back, simultaneously thrilled by the proximity to such beautiful animals and impatient to park and stretch our legs. The deer flicked their tails, swiveled their ears, nosed the ground and slowly, grudgingly, sashayed onto the grass.
    As we extracted ourselves from the car, they gracefully promenaded across the lawn, slipping in among the trees along a busy street that funnels traffic onto Route 9, the heavily traveled highway that parallels the Hudson River.
    Jim Sterba, a distinguished foreign correspondent and national affairs reporter who was in the thick of things in Asia during and after the Vietnam War, escapes New York City on the weekends to stay in Dutchess County, not far from where I grew up. Sterba's first book, "Frankie's Place," is a memoir about courting and marrying his wife, the journalist and author Frances FitzGerald, whose own account of the Vietnam War, "Fire in the Lake," won the Pulitzer Prize.     His second book, "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds," is about why herds of deer now occupy our driveways and yards, eating our flowers and plants.
    Sterba begins "Nature Wars" with an impressive roll call of all the wildlife he and his wife see around the cottage they rent on a former 180-acre dairy farm. As I read this census, I find myself nodding. Even in our Poughkeepsie neighborhood, we see lots of different songbirds, woodpeckers, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, woodchucks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, beavers, ducks, eagles, turtles and blue heron. But there was no such cavalcade of wildlife when I still lived at home, back around the time I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."
    This fall marks the 50th anniversary of Carson's galvanizing exposé of the "sinister" effects of DDT and other chemical pesticides that were in widespread and wanton use following World War II. Carson's now classic book of warning begins with "A Fable for Tomorrow," which presents a world in grim opposition to the vitality Sterba describes.
    "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." Carson describes "prosperous farms," wildflowers, trees, an "abundance and variety" of bird life, streams full of fish, deer and foxes, all abruptly transformed when "a strange blight crept over the area . a shadow of death." Animals, people, plants and trees began to sicken and die. "There was a strange stillness." What caused this catastrophe? "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves."
    Carson's clarion book has been compared to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in terms of its role as a catalyst for social change. The environmental movement did coalesce in the wake of "Silent Spring," and laws were passed to protect endangered species and the air, water and land that sustain all of life. Even so, environmental threats continue to multiply. The battles to protect wetlands, forests, rivers, oceans, public lands and wildlife against pollution, destruction, decimation and global warming rage on. Environmental writers continued to sound the alarm. Carson wrote that science and literature share the same mission, to "discover and illuminate truth," and her intrepid and eloquent followers are many, including Gretel Ehrlich, John McPhee, Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben, Carl Safina, David Quammen and Elizabeth Kolbert. Yet there have been some phenomenal improvements. The facts about wildlife resurgence that Sterba present in his mind-bending dispatch from the new world of "people-wildlife conflicts" are startling and staggering.
    Remember the coyote who sauntered into a downtown Chicago Quiznos? The cougar Chicago police shot dead in Roscoe Village? Consider the more routine animal nuisances: herds of garden-devouring deer, gaggles of excreting Canadian geese and battalions of beavers busy chewing down cherished trees and building dams that cause infrastructure-damaging floods and even disrupt "the water flows around electrical power generation facilities." We have sprawled into animal terrain, building houses, malls, corporate parks and golf courses, and now, Sterba writes, "critters have encroached right back." And why not? We have enhanced their habitats and eliminated predators — although we do accidentally kill an appalling number of animals with our cars, and millions of birds die in collisions with high-rise windows. Filled with wonder over the beautiful animals that are now all around us, we feed wild birds (supporting a hugely profitable bird seed industry) and even coyotes and bears, inviting deadly attacks. And don't get Sterba started on the subject of feral cats.
    It is exciting to see wildlife. Consider, there were no deer left in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio by the late 19th century. No beavers anywhere. Restocking and restoration efforts have been a tremendous, resounding success. We owe profound thanks not only to environmental writers, but also to all the unsung biologists, environmentalists, policymakers, attorneys, grass-roots activists, government staffers and politicians who ensured that we averted ecological disaster 40 years ago. But just as we had no clue as to what havoc we were unleashing with the use of DDT, we have not been aware of the consequences of renewed animal populations. We've even been oblivious, Sterba tells us, to the return of the trees. The halt to deforestation in the late 19th century initiated an era of luxurious regrowth. Citing tree counts and aerial survey, Sterba asserts that we are all, in essence, forest dwellers now, even those of us who live in the heart of big cities. Trees support wildlife.
    Sterba is ferociously well-informed and lucid in his chronicling of "how we turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess." His book is a tale of noble intentions and unintended consequences, ignorance and aggression, idealism and irony, reality and responsibility.
    Here's one example of the many Sterba considers. Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling — nicknamed "Ding" because he "regularly dinged (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt" — was also "an ardent and knowledgeable conservationist." So FDR appointed him to a committee formed to figure out a way to restore the country's imperiled waterfowl. Also on board was Wisconsin-based Aldo Leopold of "A Sand County Almanac" fame, the man who founded the profession of game management. Leopold's paradigm-alerting land ethic, as he explained, "changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." This crucial land ethic also "enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." A vision to live by.
    Roosevelt then appointed Darling director of what would become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (for which Carson later worked). Darling proved to be a formidable and effective protector of ducks and geese, so much so that his agency inadvertently established the very conditions that nurtured today's immense population of "nuisance" Canadian geese.
    So we find ourselves in a quandary. American wildlife has rebounded from near-extinction to overabundance, and many of us recoil from the need to cull animal populations.
    How easy it is to hold fast to outmoded assumptions, to grow rigid in one's perceptions, to tune out the "other side." Thoroughly researched and powerfully written books such as "Silent Spring" and "Nature Wars" induce us to question our thinking, opinions and values. It's one thing to argue that animals are sentient beings and that we should never abuse or unnecessarily kill them. It's another to allow naïve and wishful fantasies about wild animals to cloud our understanding of what's at stake when nature gets out of balance, even if it's thanks to our interference, however well-intentioned. We are going to have to figure out how to live safely with all those amazing and, yes, precious, deer, geese and beavers, those coyote and cougars and bears.
    Donna Seaman is a senior editor at Booklist and editor of the collection "In Our Nature."
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

    Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Well worth the effort if you are engaged in conservation issues. Sterba starts his book on the borders of Maine’s Acadia National Park. Seeing some grapevines choking off a ravine and stream, Sterba rips out the interloping vines so the original forest can take hold. But his research reveals that the vines were probably planted in the 19th century, when the entire area was bucolic farmland. John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought the land, which was turned over to Acadia in 1961, and a new forest devoured the pasture that existed before.

    That is the thesis of this book: The major annihilation of nature in the U.S. occurred in the late 19th century, when everything from buffalo to hardwood forests was felled wholesale. The conservationist efforts of the past 100 years have been so successful that wildlife such as coyotes, turkeys, bears, and deer — not long ago a sight so rare that Americans stopped their cars to get a look — have become plentiful pests. At times this book reads like a well-reported tabloid exaggeration, but it will surely make you look differently at the “narrative of loss” at the heart of our environmental news coverage.

AUDUBON MAGAZINE, Nov. 2012.

    Whether it’s deer in the backyard or raccoons in the chimney, nature is making a comeback—in suburbia. In his new book, Nature Wars, reporter Jim Sterba explores how, ironically, many Americans are living closer to nature than ever before—and how ill-equipped we are to deal with it. After centuries of uncontrolled hunting and clear-cutting devastated ecosystems, the environmental movement inspired people to try to restore some kind of natural balance. While conservationists have unquestionably made incredible strides, Sterba argues that, close to home, we’ve overcompensated, paving the way for wild creatures to live in our lushly landscaped environs—with plenty of food and protection—but not in harmony. Beavers flood septic systems, deer devour plants, and black bears forage in our trash bins. At the same time, some suburbanites shy away from management strategies such as hunting and trapping—activities that, along with enacting ordinances to ban feeding wildlife and requiring that trash be stored in more secure bins, can help municipalities overcome this growing problem, Sterba argues. "Groups have to come together to find ways to manage the natural space where they live for the good of the ecosystem as a whole and not simply one overabundant or problematic species within it."


JIM STERBA'S HOME PAGE

By the 1990s the deer population had exploded. Various estimates for the United States put it at 25 to 40 million and growing unchecked, and apparently uncheckable. By 2006 this vast and scattered herd was being called “a mass transit system for ticks carrying Lyme disease.” Sterba’s figures put deer damage to farm crops and forests at more than $850 million the deer had eaten $250 million worth of landscaping, gardens, and shrubbery. By eating plants that grew under large trees they damaged songbird habitats and put certain bird groups at risk.

“But threats to forests and songbirds paled in comparison to the whitetail’s menace to people in the form of collisions of deer and motor vehicles, which were occurring at a rate of three thousand to four thousand per day,” according to Sterba. “The toll of cars crumpled, people killed and injured, Lyme disease contracted, gardens destroyed, crops eaten, and forests damaged,” he writes, justified The New York Times’s editorial conclusion that “white-tailed deer are a plague.”

Sterba lists several factors that made “such beautiful creatures become so much trouble.” These include a lack of predators, a decline in hunting, changes in habitat, mismanagement by state wildlife agencies, and human sprawl.

Whitetails are “quick studies,” he writes. It took them very little time to discover that “people who have sprawled across the landscape aren’t the predators they used to be.” The sprawl people brought with them attitudes that created ideal conditions for a whitetail explosion. Sprawl culture with its “exurban subdivisions, big-box houses on multiacre plots, weekend places, second homes, hobby farms, and even semiworking farms” created “a mosaic of hiding places, open places, feeding places, watering places, bedding places.” Moreover, sprawl people grew many plants they did not eat, harvest, or market. Using “prodigious amounts of fertilizer, water, and hired labor, they grew plants mainly to look at.” They created “deer nirvana,” a wildlife biologist said.

Then, says Sterba, they made one last crucial adjustment: they cleared the landscape of the last major deer predator remaining: themselves. Most did not hunt. They posted their property with “No Hunting” signs and passed laws against discharging firearms that effectively put large areas of landscape off limits for hunting:

Suddenly, for the first time in eleven thousand years, hundreds of thousands of square miles in the heart of the white-tailed deer’s historic range were largely off limits to one of its biggest predators. Suddenly, an animal instinctively wary of predators, including Homo sapiens, found itself in a lush habitat where major predators—drivers being the exception—didn’t exist.
Thinking of possible ways to avert a disaster in deer–human conflicts, Sterba imagines a return of the human predator. He writes of “professional” hunters who are seen as “new saviors” in some suburbs where sharpshooters are hired to kill deer and are paid with tax dollars. He describes a proposal to have professionals train local hunters to become “urban deer managers,” with the costs offset by selling venison in farmers’ markets. “It seems like a good solution,” he concludes, “but it probably won’t happen anytime soon.”

Copyright © 1963-2013 NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
By Donna Seaman
9:19 p.m. CST, November 11, 2012
    The drive from the Upstate New York airport to my parents' house took longer than the flight from Chicago, and I was elated to finally be in sight of the house. But the driveway was occupied by deer. Five elegant young does turned their large, deep, dark eyes on us with the disdain of teenagers annoyed at being interrupted. We gazed back, simultaneously thrilled by the proximity to such beautiful animals and impatient to park and stretch our legs. The deer flicked their tails, swiveled their ears, nosed the ground and slowly, grudgingly, sashayed onto the grass.
    As we extracted ourselves from the car, they gracefully promenaded across the lawn, slipping in among the trees along a busy street that funnels traffic onto Route 9, the heavily traveled highway that parallels the Hudson River.
    Jim Sterba, a distinguished foreign correspondent and national affairs reporter who was in the thick of things in Asia during and after the Vietnam War, escapes New York City on the weekends to stay in Dutchess County, not far from where I grew up. Sterba's first book, "Frankie's Place," is a memoir about courting and marrying his wife, the journalist and author Frances FitzGerald, whose own account of the Vietnam War, "Fire in the Lake," won the Pulitzer Prize.     His second book, "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds," is about why herds of deer now occupy our driveways and yards, eating our flowers and plants.
    Sterba begins "Nature Wars" with an impressive roll call of all the wildlife he and his wife see around the cottage they rent on a former 180-acre dairy farm. As I read this census, I find myself nodding. Even in our Poughkeepsie neighborhood, we see lots of different songbirds, woodpeckers, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, woodchucks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, beavers, ducks, eagles, turtles and blue heron. But there was no such cavalcade of wildlife when I still lived at home, back around the time I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."
    This fall marks the 50th anniversary of Carson's galvanizing exposé of the "sinister" effects of DDT and other chemical pesticides that were in widespread and wanton use following World War II. Carson's now classic book of warning begins with "A Fable for Tomorrow," which presents a world in grim opposition to the vitality Sterba describes.
    "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." Carson describes "prosperous farms," wildflowers, trees, an "abundance and variety" of bird life, streams full of fish, deer and foxes, all abruptly transformed when "a strange blight crept over the area . a shadow of death." Animals, people, plants and trees began to sicken and die. "There was a strange stillness." What caused this catastrophe? "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves."
    Carson's clarion book has been compared to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in terms of its role as a catalyst for social change. The environmental movement did coalesce in the wake of "Silent Spring," and laws were passed to protect endangered species and the air, water and land that sustain all of life. Even so, environmental threats continue to multiply. The battles to protect wetlands, forests, rivers, oceans, public lands and wildlife against pollution, destruction, decimation and global warming rage on. Environmental writers continued to sound the alarm. Carson wrote that science and literature share the same mission, to "discover and illuminate truth," and her intrepid and eloquent followers are many, including Gretel Ehrlich, John McPhee, Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben, Carl Safina, David Quammen and Elizabeth Kolbert. Yet there have been some phenomenal improvements. The facts about wildlife resurgence that Sterba present in his mind-bending dispatch from the new world of "people-wildlife conflicts" are startling and staggering.
    Remember the coyote who sauntered into a downtown Chicago Quiznos? The cougar Chicago police shot dead in Roscoe Village? Consider the more routine animal nuisances: herds of garden-devouring deer, gaggles of excreting Canadian geese and battalions of beavers busy chewing down cherished trees and building dams that cause infrastructure-damaging floods and even disrupt "the water flows around electrical power generation facilities." We have sprawled into animal terrain, building houses, malls, corporate parks and golf courses, and now, Sterba writes, "critters have encroached right back." And why not? We have enhanced their habitats and eliminated predators — although we do accidentally kill an appalling number of animals with our cars, and millions of birds die in collisions with high-rise windows. Filled with wonder over the beautiful animals that are now all around us, we feed wild birds (supporting a hugely profitable bird seed industry) and even coyotes and bears, inviting deadly attacks. And don't get Sterba started on the subject of feral cats.
    It is exciting to see wildlife. Consider, there were no deer left in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio by the late 19th century. No beavers anywhere. Restocking and restoration efforts have been a tremendous, resounding success. We owe profound thanks not only to environmental writers, but also to all the unsung biologists, environmentalists, policymakers, attorneys, grass-roots activists, government staffers and politicians who ensured that we averted ecological disaster 40 years ago. But just as we had no clue as to what havoc we were unleashing with the use of DDT, we have not been aware of the consequences of renewed animal populations. We've even been oblivious, Sterba tells us, to the return of the trees. The halt to deforestation in the late 19th century initiated an era of luxurious regrowth. Citing tree counts and aerial survey, Sterba asserts that we are all, in essence, forest dwellers now, even those of us who live in the heart of big cities. Trees support wildlife.
    Sterba is ferociously well-informed and lucid in his chronicling of "how we turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess." His book is a tale of noble intentions and unintended consequences, ignorance and aggression, idealism and irony, reality and responsibility.
    Here's one example of the many Sterba considers. Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling — nicknamed "Ding" because he "regularly dinged (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt" — was also "an ardent and knowledgeable conservationist." So FDR appointed him to a committee formed to figure out a way to restore the country's imperiled waterfowl. Also on board was Wisconsin-based Aldo Leopold of "A Sand County Almanac" fame, the man who founded the profession of game management. Leopold's paradigm-alerting land ethic, as he explained, "changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." This crucial land ethic also "enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." A vision to live by.
    Roosevelt then appointed Darling director of what would become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (for which Carson later worked). Darling proved to be a formidable and effective protector of ducks and geese, so much so that his agency inadvertently established the very conditions that nurtured today's immense population of "nuisance" Canadian geese.
    So we find ourselves in a quandary. American wildlife has rebounded from near-extinction to overabundance, and many of us recoil from the need to cull animal populations.
    How easy it is to hold fast to outmoded assumptions, to grow rigid in one's perceptions, to tune out the "other side." Thoroughly researched and powerfully written books such as "Silent Spring" and "Nature Wars" induce us to question our thinking, opinions and values. It's one thing to argue that animals are sentient beings and that we should never abuse or unnecessarily kill them. It's another to allow naïve and wishful fantasies about wild animals to cloud our understanding of what's at stake when nature gets out of balance, even if it's thanks to our interference, however well-intentioned. We are going to have to figure out how to live safely with all those amazing and, yes, precious, deer, geese and beavers, those coyote and cougars and bears.
    Donna Seaman is a senior editor at Booklist and editor of the collection "In Our Nature."
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

    Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Well worth the effort if you are engaged in conservation issues. Sterba starts his book on the borders of Maine’s Acadia National Park. Seeing some grapevines choking off a ravine and stream, Sterba rips out the interloping vines so the original forest can take hold. But his research reveals that the vines were probably planted in the 19th century, when the entire area was bucolic farmland. John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought the land, which was turned over to Acadia in 1961, and a new forest devoured the pasture that existed before.

    That is the thesis of this book: The major annihilation of nature in the U.S. occurred in the late 19th century, when everything from buffalo to hardwood forests was felled wholesale. The conservationist efforts of the past 100 years have been so successful that wildlife such as coyotes, turkeys, bears, and deer — not long ago a sight so rare that Americans stopped their cars to get a look — have become plentiful pests. At times this book reads like a well-reported tabloid exaggeration, but it will surely make you look differently at the “narrative of loss” at the heart of our environmental news coverage.

AUDUBON MAGAZINE, Nov. 2012.

    Whether it’s deer in the backyard or raccoons in the chimney, nature is making a comeback—in suburbia. In his new book, Nature Wars, reporter Jim Sterba explores how, ironically, many Americans are living closer to nature than ever before—and how ill-equipped we are to deal with it. After centuries of uncontrolled hunting and clear-cutting devastated ecosystems, the environmental movement inspired people to try to restore some kind of natural balance. While conservationists have unquestionably made incredible strides, Sterba argues that, close to home, we’ve overcompensated, paving the way for wild creatures to live in our lushly landscaped environs—with plenty of food and protection—but not in harmony. Beavers flood septic systems, deer devour plants, and black bears forage in our trash bins. At the same time, some suburbanites shy away from management strategies such as hunting and trapping—activities that, along with enacting ordinances to ban feeding wildlife and requiring that trash be stored in more secure bins, can help municipalities overcome this growing problem, Sterba argues. "Groups have to come together to find ways to manage the natural space where they live for the good of the ecosystem as a whole and not simply one overabundant or problematic species within it."


JIM STERBA'S HOME PAGE

By the 1990s the deer population had exploded. Various estimates for the United States put it at 25 to 40 million and growing unchecked, and apparently uncheckable. By 2006 this vast and scattered herd was being called “a mass transit system for ticks carrying Lyme disease.” Sterba’s figures put deer damage to farm crops and forests at more than $850 million the deer had eaten $250 million worth of landscaping, gardens, and shrubbery. By eating plants that grew under large trees they damaged songbird habitats and put certain bird groups at risk.

“But threats to forests and songbirds paled in comparison to the whitetail’s menace to people in the form of collisions of deer and motor vehicles, which were occurring at a rate of three thousand to four thousand per day,” according to Sterba. “The toll of cars crumpled, people killed and injured, Lyme disease contracted, gardens destroyed, crops eaten, and forests damaged,” he writes, justified The New York Times’s editorial conclusion that “white-tailed deer are a plague.”

Sterba lists several factors that made “such beautiful creatures become so much trouble.” These include a lack of predators, a decline in hunting, changes in habitat, mismanagement by state wildlife agencies, and human sprawl.

Whitetails are “quick studies,” he writes. It took them very little time to discover that “people who have sprawled across the landscape aren’t the predators they used to be.” The sprawl people brought with them attitudes that created ideal conditions for a whitetail explosion. Sprawl culture with its “exurban subdivisions, big-box houses on multiacre plots, weekend places, second homes, hobby farms, and even semiworking farms” created “a mosaic of hiding places, open places, feeding places, watering places, bedding places.” Moreover, sprawl people grew many plants they did not eat, harvest, or market. Using “prodigious amounts of fertilizer, water, and hired labor, they grew plants mainly to look at.” They created “deer nirvana,” a wildlife biologist said.

Then, says Sterba, they made one last crucial adjustment: they cleared the landscape of the last major deer predator remaining: themselves. Most did not hunt. They posted their property with “No Hunting” signs and passed laws against discharging firearms that effectively put large areas of landscape off limits for hunting:

Suddenly, for the first time in eleven thousand years, hundreds of thousands of square miles in the heart of the white-tailed deer’s historic range were largely off limits to one of its biggest predators. Suddenly, an animal instinctively wary of predators, including Homo sapiens, found itself in a lush habitat where major predators—drivers being the exception—didn’t exist.
Thinking of possible ways to avert a disaster in deer–human conflicts, Sterba imagines a return of the human predator. He writes of “professional” hunters who are seen as “new saviors” in some suburbs where sharpshooters are hired to kill deer and are paid with tax dollars. He describes a proposal to have professionals train local hunters to become “urban deer managers,” with the costs offset by selling venison in farmers’ markets. “It seems like a good solution,” he concludes, “but it probably won’t happen anytime soon.”

Copyright © 1963-2013 NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
By Donna Seaman
9:19 p.m. CST, November 11, 2012
    The drive from the Upstate New York airport to my parents' house took longer than the flight from Chicago, and I was elated to finally be in sight of the house. But the driveway was occupied by deer. Five elegant young does turned their large, deep, dark eyes on us with the disdain of teenagers annoyed at being interrupted. We gazed back, simultaneously thrilled by the proximity to such beautiful animals and impatient to park and stretch our legs. The deer flicked their tails, swiveled their ears, nosed the ground and slowly, grudgingly, sashayed onto the grass.
    As we extracted ourselves from the car, they gracefully promenaded across the lawn, slipping in among the trees along a busy street that funnels traffic onto Route 9, the heavily traveled highway that parallels the Hudson River.
    Jim Sterba, a distinguished foreign correspondent and national affairs reporter who was in the thick of things in Asia during and after the Vietnam War, escapes New York City on the weekends to stay in Dutchess County, not far from where I grew up. Sterba's first book, "Frankie's Place," is a memoir about courting and marrying his wife, the journalist and author Frances FitzGerald, whose own account of the Vietnam War, "Fire in the Lake," won the Pulitzer Prize.     His second book, "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds," is about why herds of deer now occupy our driveways and yards, eating our flowers and plants.
    Sterba begins "Nature Wars" with an impressive roll call of all the wildlife he and his wife see around the cottage they rent on a former 180-acre dairy farm. As I read this census, I find myself nodding. Even in our Poughkeepsie neighborhood, we see lots of different songbirds, woodpeckers, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, woodchucks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, beavers, ducks, eagles, turtles and blue heron. But there was no such cavalcade of wildlife when I still lived at home, back around the time I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."
    This fall marks the 50th anniversary of Carson's galvanizing exposé of the "sinister" effects of DDT and other chemical pesticides that were in widespread and wanton use following World War II. Carson's now classic book of warning begins with "A Fable for Tomorrow," which presents a world in grim opposition to the vitality Sterba describes.
    "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." Carson describes "prosperous farms," wildflowers, trees, an "abundance and variety" of bird life, streams full of fish, deer and foxes, all abruptly transformed when "a strange blight crept over the area . a shadow of death." Animals, people, plants and trees began to sicken and die. "There was a strange stillness." What caused this catastrophe? "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves."
    Carson's clarion book has been compared to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in terms of its role as a catalyst for social change. The environmental movement did coalesce in the wake of "Silent Spring," and laws were passed to protect endangered species and the air, water and land that sustain all of life. Even so, environmental threats continue to multiply. The battles to protect wetlands, forests, rivers, oceans, public lands and wildlife against pollution, destruction, decimation and global warming rage on. Environmental writers continued to sound the alarm. Carson wrote that science and literature share the same mission, to "discover and illuminate truth," and her intrepid and eloquent followers are many, including Gretel Ehrlich, John McPhee, Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben, Carl Safina, David Quammen and Elizabeth Kolbert. Yet there have been some phenomenal improvements. The facts about wildlife resurgence that Sterba present in his mind-bending dispatch from the new world of "people-wildlife conflicts" are startling and staggering.
    Remember the coyote who sauntered into a downtown Chicago Quiznos? The cougar Chicago police shot dead in Roscoe Village? Consider the more routine animal nuisances: herds of garden-devouring deer, gaggles of excreting Canadian geese and battalions of beavers busy chewing down cherished trees and building dams that cause infrastructure-damaging floods and even disrupt "the water flows around electrical power generation facilities." We have sprawled into animal terrain, building houses, malls, corporate parks and golf courses, and now, Sterba writes, "critters have encroached right back." And why not? We have enhanced their habitats and eliminated predators — although we do accidentally kill an appalling number of animals with our cars, and millions of birds die in collisions with high-rise windows. Filled with wonder over the beautiful animals that are now all around us, we feed wild birds (supporting a hugely profitable bird seed industry) and even coyotes and bears, inviting deadly attacks. And don't get Sterba started on the subject of feral cats.
    It is exciting to see wildlife. Consider, there were no deer left in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio by the late 19th century. No beavers anywhere. Restocking and restoration efforts have been a tremendous, resounding success. We owe profound thanks not only to environmental writers, but also to all the unsung biologists, environmentalists, policymakers, attorneys, grass-roots activists, government staffers and politicians who ensured that we averted ecological disaster 40 years ago. But just as we had no clue as to what havoc we were unleashing with the use of DDT, we have not been aware of the consequences of renewed animal populations. We've even been oblivious, Sterba tells us, to the return of the trees. The halt to deforestation in the late 19th century initiated an era of luxurious regrowth. Citing tree counts and aerial survey, Sterba asserts that we are all, in essence, forest dwellers now, even those of us who live in the heart of big cities. Trees support wildlife.
    Sterba is ferociously well-informed and lucid in his chronicling of "how we turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess." His book is a tale of noble intentions and unintended consequences, ignorance and aggression, idealism and irony, reality and responsibility.
    Here's one example of the many Sterba considers. Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling — nicknamed "Ding" because he "regularly dinged (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt" — was also "an ardent and knowledgeable conservationist." So FDR appointed him to a committee formed to figure out a way to restore the country's imperiled waterfowl. Also on board was Wisconsin-based Aldo Leopold of "A Sand County Almanac" fame, the man who founded the profession of game management. Leopold's paradigm-alerting land ethic, as he explained, "changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." This crucial land ethic also "enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." A vision to live by.
    Roosevelt then appointed Darling director of what would become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (for which Carson later worked). Darling proved to be a formidable and effective protector of ducks and geese, so much so that his agency inadvertently established the very conditions that nurtured today's immense population of "nuisance" Canadian geese.
    So we find ourselves in a quandary. American wildlife has rebounded from near-extinction to overabundance, and many of us recoil from the need to cull animal populations.
    How easy it is to hold fast to outmoded assumptions, to grow rigid in one's perceptions, to tune out the "other side." Thoroughly researched and powerfully written books such as "Silent Spring" and "Nature Wars" induce us to question our thinking, opinions and values. It's one thing to argue that animals are sentient beings and that we should never abuse or unnecessarily kill them. It's another to allow naïve and wishful fantasies about wild animals to cloud our understanding of what's at stake when nature gets out of balance, even if it's thanks to our interference, however well-intentioned. We are going to have to figure out how to live safely with all those amazing and, yes, precious, deer, geese and beavers, those coyote and cougars and bears.
    Donna Seaman is a senior editor at Booklist and editor of the collection "In Our Nature."
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

    Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Well worth the effort if you are engaged in conservation issues. Sterba starts his book on the borders of Maine’s Acadia National Park. Seeing some grapevines choking off a ravine and stream, Sterba rips out the interloping vines so the original forest can take hold. But his research reveals that the vines were probably planted in the 19th century, when the entire area was bucolic farmland. John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought the land, which was turned over to Acadia in 1961, and a new forest devoured the pasture that existed before.

    That is the thesis of this book: The major annihilation of nature in the U.S. occurred in the late 19th century, when everything from buffalo to hardwood forests was felled wholesale. The conservationist efforts of the past 100 years have been so successful that wildlife such as coyotes, turkeys, bears, and deer — not long ago a sight so rare that Americans stopped their cars to get a look — have become plentiful pests. At times this book reads like a well-reported tabloid exaggeration, but it will surely make you look differently at the “narrative of loss” at the heart of our environmental news coverage.

AUDUBON MAGAZINE, Nov. 2012.

    Whether it’s deer in the backyard or raccoons in the chimney, nature is making a comeback—in suburbia. In his new book, Nature Wars, reporter Jim Sterba explores how, ironically, many Americans are living closer to nature than ever before—and how ill-equipped we are to deal with it. After centuries of uncontrolled hunting and clear-cutting devastated ecosystems, the environmental movement inspired people to try to restore some kind of natural balance. While conservationists have unquestionably made incredible strides, Sterba argues that, close to home, we’ve overcompensated, paving the way for wild creatures to live in our lushly landscaped environs—with plenty of food and protection—but not in harmony. Beavers flood septic systems, deer devour plants, and black bears forage in our trash bins. At the same time, some suburbanites shy away from management strategies such as hunting and trapping—activities that, along with enacting ordinances to ban feeding wildlife and requiring that trash be stored in more secure bins, can help municipalities overcome this growing problem, Sterba argues. "Groups have to come together to find ways to manage the natural space where they live for the good of the ecosystem as a whole and not simply one overabundant or problematic species within it."


JIM STERBA'S HOME PAGE

By the 1990s the deer population had exploded. Various estimates for the United States put it at 25 to 40 million and growing unchecked, and apparently uncheckable. By 2006 this vast and scattered herd was being called “a mass transit system for ticks carrying Lyme disease.” Sterba’s figures put deer damage to farm crops and forests at more than $850 million the deer had eaten $250 million worth of landscaping, gardens, and shrubbery. By eating plants that grew under large trees they damaged songbird habitats and put certain bird groups at risk.

“But threats to forests and songbirds paled in comparison to the whitetail’s menace to people in the form of collisions of deer and motor vehicles, which were occurring at a rate of three thousand to four thousand per day,” according to Sterba. “The toll of cars crumpled, people killed and injured, Lyme disease contracted, gardens destroyed, crops eaten, and forests damaged,” he writes, justified The New York Times’s editorial conclusion that “white-tailed deer are a plague.”

Sterba lists several factors that made “such beautiful creatures become so much trouble.” These include a lack of predators, a decline in hunting, changes in habitat, mismanagement by state wildlife agencies, and human sprawl.

Whitetails are “quick studies,” he writes. It took them very little time to discover that “people who have sprawled across the landscape aren’t the predators they used to be.” The sprawl people brought with them attitudes that created ideal conditions for a whitetail explosion. Sprawl culture with its “exurban subdivisions, big-box houses on multiacre plots, weekend places, second homes, hobby farms, and even semiworking farms” created “a mosaic of hiding places, open places, feeding places, watering places, bedding places.” Moreover, sprawl people grew many plants they did not eat, harvest, or market. Using “prodigious amounts of fertilizer, water, and hired labor, they grew plants mainly to look at.” They created “deer nirvana,” a wildlife biologist said.

Then, says Sterba, they made one last crucial adjustment: they cleared the landscape of the last major deer predator remaining: themselves. Most did not hunt. They posted their property with “No Hunting” signs and passed laws against discharging firearms that effectively put large areas of landscape off limits for hunting:

Suddenly, for the first time in eleven thousand years, hundreds of thousands of square miles in the heart of the white-tailed deer’s historic range were largely off limits to one of its biggest predators. Suddenly, an animal instinctively wary of predators, including Homo sapiens, found itself in a lush habitat where major predators—drivers being the exception—didn’t exist.
Thinking of possible ways to avert a disaster in deer–human conflicts, Sterba imagines a return of the human predator. He writes of “professional” hunters who are seen as “new saviors” in some suburbs where sharpshooters are hired to kill deer and are paid with tax dollars. He describes a proposal to have professionals train local hunters to become “urban deer managers,” with the costs offset by selling venison in farmers’ markets. “It seems like a good solution,” he concludes, “but it probably won’t happen anytime soon.”

Copyright © 1963-2013 NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
By Donna Seaman
9:19 p.m. CST, November 11, 2012
    The drive from the Upstate New York airport to my parents' house took longer than the flight from Chicago, and I was elated to finally be in sight of the house. But the driveway was occupied by deer. Five elegant young does turned their large, deep, dark eyes on us with the disdain of teenagers annoyed at being interrupted. We gazed back, simultaneously thrilled by the proximity to such beautiful animals and impatient to park and stretch our legs. The deer flicked their tails, swiveled their ears, nosed the ground and slowly, grudgingly, sashayed onto the grass.
    As we extracted ourselves from the car, they gracefully promenaded across the lawn, slipping in among the trees along a busy street that funnels traffic onto Route 9, the heavily traveled highway that parallels the Hudson River.
    Jim Sterba, a distinguished foreign correspondent and national affairs reporter who was in the thick of things in Asia during and after the Vietnam War, escapes New York City on the weekends to stay in Dutchess County, not far from where I grew up. Sterba's first book, "Frankie's Place," is a memoir about courting and marrying his wife, the journalist and author Frances FitzGerald, whose own account of the Vietnam War, "Fire in the Lake," won the Pulitzer Prize.     His second book, "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds," is about why herds of deer now occupy our driveways and yards, eating our flowers and plants.
    Sterba begins "Nature Wars" with an impressive roll call of all the wildlife he and his wife see around the cottage they rent on a former 180-acre dairy farm. As I read this census, I find myself nodding. Even in our Poughkeepsie neighborhood, we see lots of different songbirds, woodpeckers, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, woodchucks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, beavers, ducks, eagles, turtles and blue heron. But there was no such cavalcade of wildlife when I still lived at home, back around the time I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."
    This fall marks the 50th anniversary of Carson's galvanizing exposé of the "sinister" effects of DDT and other chemical pesticides that were in widespread and wanton use following World War II. Carson's now classic book of warning begins with "A Fable for Tomorrow," which presents a world in grim opposition to the vitality Sterba describes.
    "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." Carson describes "prosperous farms," wildflowers, trees, an "abundance and variety" of bird life, streams full of fish, deer and foxes, all abruptly transformed when "a strange blight crept over the area . a shadow of death." Animals, people, plants and trees began to sicken and die. "There was a strange stillness." What caused this catastrophe? "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves."
    Carson's clarion book has been compared to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in terms of its role as a catalyst for social change. The environmental movement did coalesce in the wake of "Silent Spring," and laws were passed to protect endangered species and the air, water and land that sustain all of life. Even so, environmental threats continue to multiply. The battles to protect wetlands, forests, rivers, oceans, public lands and wildlife against pollution, destruction, decimation and global warming rage on. Environmental writers continued to sound the alarm. Carson wrote that science and literature share the same mission, to "discover and illuminate truth," and her intrepid and eloquent followers are many, including Gretel Ehrlich, John McPhee, Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben, Carl Safina, David Quammen and Elizabeth Kolbert. Yet there have been some phenomenal improvements. The facts about wildlife resurgence that Sterba present in his mind-bending dispatch from the new world of "people-wildlife conflicts" are startling and staggering.
    Remember the coyote who sauntered into a downtown Chicago Quiznos? The cougar Chicago police shot dead in Roscoe Village? Consider the more routine animal nuisances: herds of garden-devouring deer, gaggles of excreting Canadian geese and battalions of beavers busy chewing down cherished trees and building dams that cause infrastructure-damaging floods and even disrupt "the water flows around electrical power generation facilities." We have sprawled into animal terrain, building houses, malls, corporate parks and golf courses, and now, Sterba writes, "critters have encroached right back." And why not? We have enhanced their habitats and eliminated predators — although we do accidentally kill an appalling number of animals with our cars, and millions of birds die in collisions with high-rise windows. Filled with wonder over the beautiful animals that are now all around us, we feed wild birds (supporting a hugely profitable bird seed industry) and even coyotes and bears, inviting deadly attacks. And don't get Sterba started on the subject of feral cats.
    It is exciting to see wildlife. Consider, there were no deer left in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio by the late 19th century. No beavers anywhere. Restocking and restoration efforts have been a tremendous, resounding success. We owe profound thanks not only to environmental writers, but also to all the unsung biologists, environmentalists, policymakers, attorneys, grass-roots activists, government staffers and politicians who ensured that we averted ecological disaster 40 years ago. But just as we had no clue as to what havoc we were unleashing with the use of DDT, we have not been aware of the consequences of renewed animal populations. We've even been oblivious, Sterba tells us, to the return of the trees. The halt to deforestation in the late 19th century initiated an era of luxurious regrowth. Citing tree counts and aerial survey, Sterba asserts that we are all, in essence, forest dwellers now, even those of us who live in the heart of big cities. Trees support wildlife.
    Sterba is ferociously well-informed and lucid in his chronicling of "how we turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess." His book is a tale of noble intentions and unintended consequences, ignorance and aggression, idealism and irony, reality and responsibility.
    Here's one example of the many Sterba considers. Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling — nicknamed "Ding" because he "regularly dinged (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt" — was also "an ardent and knowledgeable conservationist." So FDR appointed him to a committee formed to figure out a way to restore the country's imperiled waterfowl. Also on board was Wisconsin-based Aldo Leopold of "A Sand County Almanac" fame, the man who founded the profession of game management. Leopold's paradigm-alerting land ethic, as he explained, "changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." This crucial land ethic also "enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." A vision to live by.
    Roosevelt then appointed Darling director of what would become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (for which Carson later worked). Darling proved to be a formidable and effective protector of ducks and geese, so much so that his agency inadvertently established the very conditions that nurtured today's immense population of "nuisance" Canadian geese.
    So we find ourselves in a quandary. American wildlife has rebounded from near-extinction to overabundance, and many of us recoil from the need to cull animal populations.
    How easy it is to hold fast to outmoded assumptions, to grow rigid in one's perceptions, to tune out the "other side." Thoroughly researched and powerfully written books such as "Silent Spring" and "Nature Wars" induce us to question our thinking, opinions and values. It's one thing to argue that animals are sentient beings and that we should never abuse or unnecessarily kill them. It's another to allow naïve and wishful fantasies about wild animals to cloud our understanding of what's at stake when nature gets out of balance, even if it's thanks to our interference, however well-intentioned. We are going to have to figure out how to live safely with all those amazing and, yes, precious, deer, geese and beavers, those coyote and cougars and bears.
    Donna Seaman is a senior editor at Booklist and editor of the collection "In Our Nature."
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

    Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Well worth the effort if you are engaged in conservation issues. Sterba starts his book on the borders of Maine’s Acadia National Park. Seeing some grapevines choking off a ravine and stream, Sterba rips out the interloping vines so the original forest can take hold. But his research reveals that the vines were probably planted in the 19th century, when the entire area was bucolic farmland. John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought the land, which was turned over to Acadia in 1961, and a new forest devoured the pasture that existed before.

    That is the thesis of this book: The major annihilation of nature in the U.S. occurred in the late 19th century, when everything from buffalo to hardwood forests was felled wholesale. The conservationist efforts of the past 100 years have been so successful that wildlife such as coyotes, turkeys, bears, and deer — not long ago a sight so rare that Americans stopped their cars to get a look — have become plentiful pests. At times this book reads like a well-reported tabloid exaggeration, but it will surely make you look differently at the “narrative of loss” at the heart of our environmental news coverage.

AUDUBON MAGAZINE, Nov. 2012.

    Whether it’s deer in the backyard or raccoons in the chimney, nature is making a comeback—in suburbia. In his new book, Nature Wars, reporter Jim Sterba explores how, ironically, many Americans are living closer to nature than ever before—and how ill-equipped we are to deal with it. After centuries of uncontrolled hunting and clear-cutting devastated ecosystems, the environmental movement inspired people to try to restore some kind of natural balance. While conservationists have unquestionably made incredible strides, Sterba argues that, close to home, we’ve overcompensated, paving the way for wild creatures to live in our lushly landscaped environs—with plenty of food and protection—but not in harmony. Beavers flood septic systems, deer devour plants, and black bears forage in our trash bins. At the same time, some suburbanites shy away from management strategies such as hunting and trapping—activities that, along with enacting ordinances to ban feeding wildlife and requiring that trash be stored in more secure bins, can help municipalities overcome this growing problem, Sterba argues. "Groups have to come together to find ways to manage the natural space where they live for the good of the ecosystem as a whole and not simply one overabundant or problematic species within it."


JIM STERBA'S HOME PAGE

By the 1990s the deer population had exploded. Various estimates for the United States put it at 25 to 40 million and growing unchecked, and apparently uncheckable. By 2006 this vast and scattered herd was being called “a mass transit system for ticks carrying Lyme disease.” Sterba’s figures put deer damage to farm crops and forests at more than $850 million the deer had eaten $250 million worth of landscaping, gardens, and shrubbery. By eating plants that grew under large trees they damaged songbird habitats and put certain bird groups at risk.

“But threats to forests and songbirds paled in comparison to the whitetail’s menace to people in the form of collisions of deer and motor vehicles, which were occurring at a rate of three thousand to four thousand per day,” according to Sterba. “The toll of cars crumpled, people killed and injured, Lyme disease contracted, gardens destroyed, crops eaten, and forests damaged,” he writes, justified The New York Times’s editorial conclusion that “white-tailed deer are a plague.”

Sterba lists several factors that made “such beautiful creatures become so much trouble.” These include a lack of predators, a decline in hunting, changes in habitat, mismanagement by state wildlife agencies, and human sprawl.

Whitetails are “quick studies,” he writes. It took them very little time to discover that “people who have sprawled across the landscape aren’t the predators they used to be.” The sprawl people brought with them attitudes that created ideal conditions for a whitetail explosion. Sprawl culture with its “exurban subdivisions, big-box houses on multiacre plots, weekend places, second homes, hobby farms, and even semiworking farms” created “a mosaic of hiding places, open places, feeding places, watering places, bedding places.” Moreover, sprawl people grew many plants they did not eat, harvest, or market. Using “prodigious amounts of fertilizer, water, and hired labor, they grew plants mainly to look at.” They created “deer nirvana,” a wildlife biologist said.

Then, says Sterba, they made one last crucial adjustment: they cleared the landscape of the last major deer predator remaining: themselves. Most did not hunt. They posted their property with “No Hunting” signs and passed laws against discharging firearms that effectively put large areas of landscape off limits for hunting:

Suddenly, for the first time in eleven thousand years, hundreds of thousands of square miles in the heart of the white-tailed deer’s historic range were largely off limits to one of its biggest predators. Suddenly, an animal instinctively wary of predators, including Homo sapiens, found itself in a lush habitat where major predators—drivers being the exception—didn’t exist.
Thinking of possible ways to avert a disaster in deer–human conflicts, Sterba imagines a return of the human predator. He writes of “professional” hunters who are seen as “new saviors” in some suburbs where sharpshooters are hired to kill deer and are paid with tax dollars. He describes a proposal to have professionals train local hunters to become “urban deer managers,” with the costs offset by selling venison in farmers’ markets. “It seems like a good solution,” he concludes, “but it probably won’t happen anytime soon.”

Copyright © 1963-2013 NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
By Donna Seaman
9:19 p.m. CST, November 11, 2012
    The drive from the Upstate New York airport to my parents' house took longer than the flight from Chicago, and I was elated to finally be in sight of the house. But the driveway was occupied by deer. Five elegant young does turned their large, deep, dark eyes on us with the disdain of teenagers annoyed at being interrupted. We gazed back, simultaneously thrilled by the proximity to such beautiful animals and impatient to park and stretch our legs. The deer flicked their tails, swiveled their ears, nosed the ground and slowly, grudgingly, sashayed onto the grass.
    As we extracted ourselves from the car, they gracefully promenaded across the lawn, slipping in among the trees along a busy street that funnels traffic onto Route 9, the heavily traveled highway that parallels the Hudson River.
    Jim Sterba, a distinguished foreign correspondent and national affairs reporter who was in the thick of things in Asia during and after the Vietnam War, escapes New York City on the weekends to stay in Dutchess County, not far from where I grew up. Sterba's first book, "Frankie's Place," is a memoir about courting and marrying his wife, the journalist and author Frances FitzGerald, whose own account of the Vietnam War, "Fire in the Lake," won the Pulitzer Prize.     His second book, "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds," is about why herds of deer now occupy our driveways and yards, eating our flowers and plants.
    Sterba begins "Nature Wars" with an impressive roll call of all the wildlife he and his wife see around the cottage they rent on a former 180-acre dairy farm. As I read this census, I find myself nodding. Even in our Poughkeepsie neighborhood, we see lots of different songbirds, woodpeckers, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, woodchucks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, beavers, ducks, eagles, turtles and blue heron. But there was no such cavalcade of wildlife when I still lived at home, back around the time I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."
    This fall marks the 50th anniversary of Carson's galvanizing exposé of the "sinister" effects of DDT and other chemical pesticides that were in widespread and wanton use following World War II. Carson's now classic book of warning begins with "A Fable for Tomorrow," which presents a world in grim opposition to the vitality Sterba describes.
    "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." Carson describes "prosperous farms," wildflowers, trees, an "abundance and variety" of bird life, streams full of fish, deer and foxes, all abruptly transformed when "a strange blight crept over the area . a shadow of death." Animals, people, plants and trees began to sicken and die. "There was a strange stillness." What caused this catastrophe? "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves."
    Carson's clarion book has been compared to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in terms of its role as a catalyst for social change. The environmental movement did coalesce in the wake of "Silent Spring," and laws were passed to protect endangered species and the air, water and land that sustain all of life. Even so, environmental threats continue to multiply. The battles to protect wetlands, forests, rivers, oceans, public lands and wildlife against pollution, destruction, decimation and global warming rage on. Environmental writers continued to sound the alarm. Carson wrote that science and literature share the same mission, to "discover and illuminate truth," and her intrepid and eloquent followers are many, including Gretel Ehrlich, John McPhee, Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben, Carl Safina, David Quammen and Elizabeth Kolbert. Yet there have been some phenomenal improvements. The facts about wildlife resurgence that Sterba present in his mind-bending dispatch from the new world of "people-wildlife conflicts" are startling and staggering.
    Remember the coyote who sauntered into a downtown Chicago Quiznos? The cougar Chicago police shot dead in Roscoe Village? Consider the more routine animal nuisances: herds of garden-devouring deer, gaggles of excreting Canadian geese and battalions of beavers busy chewing down cherished trees and building dams that cause infrastructure-damaging floods and even disrupt "the water flows around electrical power generation facilities." We have sprawled into animal terrain, building houses, malls, corporate parks and golf courses, and now, Sterba writes, "critters have encroached right back." And why not? We have enhanced their habitats and eliminated predators — although we do accidentally kill an appalling number of animals with our cars, and millions of birds die in collisions with high-rise windows. Filled with wonder over the beautiful animals that are now all around us, we feed wild birds (supporting a hugely profitable bird seed industry) and even coyotes and bears, inviting deadly attacks. And don't get Sterba started on the subject of feral cats.
    It is exciting to see wildlife. Consider, there were no deer left in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio by the late 19th century. No beavers anywhere. Restocking and restoration efforts have been a tremendous, resounding success. We owe profound thanks not only to environmental writers, but also to all the unsung biologists, environmentalists, policymakers, attorneys, grass-roots activists, government staffers and politicians who ensured that we averted ecological disaster 40 years ago. But just as we had no clue as to what havoc we were unleashing with the use of DDT, we have not been aware of the consequences of renewed animal populations. We've even been oblivious, Sterba tells us, to the return of the trees. The halt to deforestation in the late 19th century initiated an era of luxurious regrowth. Citing tree counts and aerial survey, Sterba asserts that we are all, in essence, forest dwellers now, even those of us who live in the heart of big cities. Trees support wildlife.
    Sterba is ferociously well-informed and lucid in his chronicling of "how we turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess." His book is a tale of noble intentions and unintended consequences, ignorance and aggression, idealism and irony, reality and responsibility.
    Here's one example of the many Sterba considers. Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling — nicknamed "Ding" because he "regularly dinged (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt" — was also "an ardent and knowledgeable conservationist." So FDR appointed him to a committee formed to figure out a way to restore the country's imperiled waterfowl. Also on board was Wisconsin-based Aldo Leopold of "A Sand County Almanac" fame, the man who founded the profession of game management. Leopold's paradigm-alerting land ethic, as he explained, "changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." This crucial land ethic also "enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." A vision to live by.
    Roosevelt then appointed Darling director of what would become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (for which Carson later worked). Darling proved to be a formidable and effective protector of ducks and geese, so much so that his agency inadvertently established the very conditions that nurtured today's immense population of "nuisance" Canadian geese.
    So we find ourselves in a quandary. American wildlife has rebounded from near-extinction to overabundance, and many of us recoil from the need to cull animal populations.
    How easy it is to hold fast to outmoded assumptions, to grow rigid in one's perceptions, to tune out the "other side." Thoroughly researched and powerfully written books such as "Silent Spring" and "Nature Wars" induce us to question our thinking, opinions and values. It's one thing to argue that animals are sentient beings and that we should never abuse or unnecessarily kill them. It's another to allow naïve and wishful fantasies about wild animals to cloud our understanding of what's at stake when nature gets out of balance, even if it's thanks to our interference, however well-intentioned. We are going to have to figure out how to live safely with all those amazing and, yes, precious, deer, geese and beavers, those coyote and cougars and bears.
    Donna Seaman is a senior editor at Booklist and editor of the collection "In Our Nature."
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

    Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Well worth the effort if you are engaged in conservation issues. Sterba starts his book on the borders of Maine’s Acadia National Park. Seeing some grapevines choking off a ravine and stream, Sterba rips out the interloping vines so the original forest can take hold. But his research reveals that the vines were probably planted in the 19th century, when the entire area was bucolic farmland. John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought the land, which was turned over to Acadia in 1961, and a new forest devoured the pasture that existed before.

    That is the thesis of this book: The major annihilation of nature in the U.S. occurred in the late 19th century, when everything from buffalo to hardwood forests was felled wholesale. The conservationist efforts of the past 100 years have been so successful that wildlife such as coyotes, turkeys, bears, and deer — not long ago a sight so rare that Americans stopped their cars to get a look — have become plentiful pests. At times this book reads like a well-reported tabloid exaggeration, but it will surely make you look differently at the “narrative of loss” at the heart of our environmental news coverage.

AUDUBON MAGAZINE, Nov. 2012.

    Whether it’s deer in the backyard or raccoons in the chimney, nature is making a comeback—in suburbia. In his new book, Nature Wars, reporter Jim Sterba explores how, ironically, many Americans are living closer to nature than ever before—and how ill-equipped we are to deal with it. After centuries of uncontrolled hunting and clear-cutting devastated ecosystems, the environmental movement inspired people to try to restore some kind of natural balance. While conservationists have unquestionably made incredible strides, Sterba argues that, close to home, we’ve overcompensated, paving the way for wild creatures to live in our lushly landscaped environs—with plenty of food and protection—but not in harmony. Beavers flood septic systems, deer devour plants, and black bears forage in our trash bins. At the same time, some suburbanites shy away from management strategies such as hunting and trapping—activities that, along with enacting ordinances to ban feeding wildlife and requiring that trash be stored in more secure bins, can help municipalities overcome this growing problem, Sterba argues. "Groups have to come together to find ways to manage the natural space where they live for the good of the ecosystem as a whole and not simply one overabundant or problematic species within it."


JIM STERBA'S HOME PAGE

By the 1990s the deer population had exploded. Various estimates for the United States put it at 25 to 40 million and growing unchecked, and apparently uncheckable. By 2006 this vast and scattered herd was being called “a mass transit system for ticks carrying Lyme disease.” Sterba’s figures put deer damage to farm crops and forests at more than $850 million the deer had eaten $250 million worth of landscaping, gardens, and shrubbery. By eating plants that grew under large trees they damaged songbird habitats and put certain bird groups at risk.

“But threats to forests and songbirds paled in comparison to the whitetail’s menace to people in the form of collisions of deer and motor vehicles, which were occurring at a rate of three thousand to four thousand per day,” according to Sterba. “The toll of cars crumpled, people killed and injured, Lyme disease contracted, gardens destroyed, crops eaten, and forests damaged,” he writes, justified The New York Times’s editorial conclusion that “white-tailed deer are a plague.”

Sterba lists several factors that made “such beautiful creatures become so much trouble.” These include a lack of predators, a decline in hunting, changes in habitat, mismanagement by state wildlife agencies, and human sprawl.

Whitetails are “quick studies,” he writes. It took them very little time to discover that “people who have sprawled across the landscape aren’t the predators they used to be.” The sprawl people brought with them attitudes that created ideal conditions for a whitetail explosion. Sprawl culture with its “exurban subdivisions, big-box houses on multiacre plots, weekend places, second homes, hobby farms, and even semiworking farms” created “a mosaic of hiding places, open places, feeding places, watering places, bedding places.” Moreover, sprawl people grew many plants they did not eat, harvest, or market. Using “prodigious amounts of fertilizer, water, and hired labor, they grew plants mainly to look at.” They created “deer nirvana,” a wildlife biologist said.

Then, says Sterba, they made one last crucial adjustment: they cleared the landscape of the last major deer predator remaining: themselves. Most did not hunt. They posted their property with “No Hunting” signs and passed laws against discharging firearms that effectively put large areas of landscape off limits for hunting:

Suddenly, for the first time in eleven thousand years, hundreds of thousands of square miles in the heart of the white-tailed deer’s historic range were largely off limits to one of its biggest predators. Suddenly, an animal instinctively wary of predators, including Homo sapiens, found itself in a lush habitat where major predators—drivers being the exception—didn’t exist.
Thinking of possible ways to avert a disaster in deer–human conflicts, Sterba imagines a return of the human predator. He writes of “professional” hunters who are seen as “new saviors” in some suburbs where sharpshooters are hired to kill deer and are paid with tax dollars. He describes a proposal to have professionals train local hunters to become “urban deer managers,” with the costs offset by selling venison in farmers’ markets. “It seems like a good solution,” he concludes, “but it probably won’t happen anytime soon.”

Copyright © 1963-2013 NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
By Donna Seaman
9:19 p.m. CST, November 11, 2012
    The drive from the Upstate New York airport to my parents' house took longer than the flight from Chicago, and I was elated to finally be in sight of the house. But the driveway was occupied by deer. Five elegant young does turned their large, deep, dark eyes on us with the disdain of teenagers annoyed at being interrupted. We gazed back, simultaneously thrilled by the proximity to such beautiful animals and impatient to park and stretch our legs. The deer flicked their tails, swiveled their ears, nosed the ground and slowly, grudgingly, sashayed onto the grass.
    As we extracted ourselves from the car, they gracefully promenaded across the lawn, slipping in among the trees along a busy street that funnels traffic onto Route 9, the heavily traveled highway that parallels the Hudson River.
    Jim Sterba, a distinguished foreign correspondent and national affairs reporter who was in the thick of things in Asia during and after the Vietnam War, escapes New York City on the weekends to stay in Dutchess County, not far from where I grew up. Sterba's first book, "Frankie's Place," is a memoir about courting and marrying his wife, the journalist and author Frances FitzGerald, whose own account of the Vietnam War, "Fire in the Lake," won the Pulitzer Prize.     His second book, "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds," is about why herds of deer now occupy our driveways and yards, eating our flowers and plants.
    Sterba begins "Nature Wars" with an impressive roll call of all the wildlife he and his wife see around the cottage they rent on a former 180-acre dairy farm. As I read this census, I find myself nodding. Even in our Poughkeepsie neighborhood, we see lots of different songbirds, woodpeckers, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, woodchucks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, beavers, ducks, eagles, turtles and blue heron. But there was no such cavalcade of wildlife when I still lived at home, back around the time I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."
    This fall marks the 50th anniversary of Carson's galvanizing exposé of the "sinister" effects of DDT and other chemical pesticides that were in widespread and wanton use following World War II. Carson's now classic book of warning begins with "A Fable for Tomorrow," which presents a world in grim opposition to the vitality Sterba describes.
    "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." Carson describes "prosperous farms," wildflowers, trees, an "abundance and variety" of bird life, streams full of fish, deer and foxes, all abruptly transformed when "a strange blight crept over the area . a shadow of death." Animals, people, plants and trees began to sicken and die. "There was a strange stillness." What caused this catastrophe? "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves."
    Carson's clarion book has been compared to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in terms of its role as a catalyst for social change. The environmental movement did coalesce in the wake of "Silent Spring," and laws were passed to protect endangered species and the air, water and land that sustain all of life. Even so, environmental threats continue to multiply. The battles to protect wetlands, forests, rivers, oceans, public lands and wildlife against pollution, destruction, decimation and global warming rage on. Environmental writers continued to sound the alarm. Carson wrote that science and literature share the same mission, to "discover and illuminate truth," and her intrepid and eloquent followers are many, including Gretel Ehrlich, John McPhee, Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben, Carl Safina, David Quammen and Elizabeth Kolbert. Yet there have been some phenomenal improvements. The facts about wildlife resurgence that Sterba present in his mind-bending dispatch from the new world of "people-wildlife conflicts" are startling and staggering.
    Remember the coyote who sauntered into a downtown Chicago Quiznos? The cougar Chicago police shot dead in Roscoe Village? Consider the more routine animal nuisances: herds of garden-devouring deer, gaggles of excreting Canadian geese and battalions of beavers busy chewing down cherished trees and building dams that cause infrastructure-damaging floods and even disrupt "the water flows around electrical power generation facilities." We have sprawled into animal terrain, building houses, malls, corporate parks and golf courses, and now, Sterba writes, "critters have encroached right back." And why not? We have enhanced their habitats and eliminated predators — although we do accidentally kill an appalling number of animals with our cars, and millions of birds die in collisions with high-rise windows. Filled with wonder over the beautiful animals that are now all around us, we feed wild birds (supporting a hugely profitable bird seed industry) and even coyotes and bears, inviting deadly attacks. And don't get Sterba started on the subject of feral cats.
    It is exciting to see wildlife. Consider, there were no deer left in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio by the late 19th century. No beavers anywhere. Restocking and restoration efforts have been a tremendous, resounding success. We owe profound thanks not only to environmental writers, but also to all the unsung biologists, environmentalists, policymakers, attorneys, grass-roots activists, government staffers and politicians who ensured that we averted ecological disaster 40 years ago. But just as we had no clue as to what havoc we were unleashing with the use of DDT, we have not been aware of the consequences of renewed animal populations. We've even been oblivious, Sterba tells us, to the return of the trees. The halt to deforestation in the late 19th century initiated an era of luxurious regrowth. Citing tree counts and aerial survey, Sterba asserts that we are all, in essence, forest dwellers now, even those of us who live in the heart of big cities. Trees support wildlife.
    Sterba is ferociously well-informed and lucid in his chronicling of "how we turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess." His book is a tale of noble intentions and unintended consequences, ignorance and aggression, idealism and irony, reality and responsibility.
    Here's one example of the many Sterba considers. Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling — nicknamed "Ding" because he "regularly dinged (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt" — was also "an ardent and knowledgeable conservationist." So FDR appointed him to a committee formed to figure out a way to restore the country's imperiled waterfowl. Also on board was Wisconsin-based Aldo Leopold of "A Sand County Almanac" fame, the man who founded the profession of game management. Leopold's paradigm-alerting land ethic, as he explained, "changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." This crucial land ethic also "enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." A vision to live by.
    Roosevelt then appointed Darling director of what would become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (for which Carson later worked). Darling proved to be a formidable and effective protector of ducks and geese, so much so that his agency inadvertently established the very conditions that nurtured today's immense population of "nuisance" Canadian geese.
    So we find ourselves in a quandary. American wildlife has rebounded from near-extinction to overabundance, and many of us recoil from the need to cull animal populations.
    How easy it is to hold fast to outmoded assumptions, to grow rigid in one's perceptions, to tune out the "other side." Thoroughly researched and powerfully written books such as "Silent Spring" and "Nature Wars" induce us to question our thinking, opinions and values. It's one thing to argue that animals are sentient beings and that we should never abuse or unnecessarily kill them. It's another to allow naïve and wishful fantasies about wild animals to cloud our understanding of what's at stake when nature gets out of balance, even if it's thanks to our interference, however well-intentioned. We are going to have to figure out how to live safely with all those amazing and, yes, precious, deer, geese and beavers, those coyote and cougars and bears.
    Donna Seaman is a senior editor at Booklist and editor of the collection "In Our Nature."
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

    Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Well worth the effort if you are engaged in conservation issues. Sterba starts his book on the borders of Maine’s Acadia National Park. Seeing some grapevines choking off a ravine and stream, Sterba rips out the interloping vines so the original forest can take hold. But his research reveals that the vines were probably planted in the 19th century, when the entire area was bucolic farmland. John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought the land, which was turned over to Acadia in 1961, and a new forest devoured the pasture that existed before.

    That is the thesis of this book: The major annihilation of nature in the U.S. occurred in the late 19th century, when everything from buffalo to hardwood forests was felled wholesale. The conservationist efforts of the past 100 years have been so successful that wildlife such as coyotes, turkeys, bears, and deer — not long ago a sight so rare that Americans stopped their cars to get a look — have become plentiful pests. At times this book reads like a well-reported tabloid exaggeration, but it will surely make you look differently at the “narrative of loss” at the heart of our environmental news coverage.

AUDUBON MAGAZINE, Nov. 2012.

    Whether it’s deer in the backyard or raccoons in the chimney, nature is making a comeback—in suburbia. In his new book, Nature Wars, reporter Jim Sterba explores how, ironically, many Americans are living closer to nature than ever before—and how ill-equipped we are to deal with it. After centuries of uncontrolled hunting and clear-cutting devastated ecosystems, the environmental movement inspired people to try to restore some kind of natural balance. While conservationists have unquestionably made incredible strides, Sterba argues that, close to home, we’ve overcompensated, paving the way for wild creatures to live in our lushly landscaped environs—with plenty of food and protection—but not in harmony. Beavers flood septic systems, deer devour plants, and black bears forage in our trash bins. At the same time, some suburbanites shy away from management strategies such as hunting and trapping—activities that, along with enacting ordinances to ban feeding wildlife and requiring that trash be stored in more secure bins, can help municipalities overcome this growing problem, Sterba argues. "Groups have to come together to find ways to manage the natural space where they live for the good of the ecosystem as a whole and not simply one overabundant or problematic species within it."


JIM STERBA'S HOME PAGE

By the 1990s the deer population had exploded. Various estimates for the United States put it at 25 to 40 million and growing unchecked, and apparently uncheckable. By 2006 this vast and scattered herd was being called “a mass transit system for ticks carrying Lyme disease.” Sterba’s figures put deer damage to farm crops and forests at more than $850 million the deer had eaten $250 million worth of landscaping, gardens, and shrubbery. By eating plants that grew under large trees they damaged songbird habitats and put certain bird groups at risk.

“But threats to forests and songbirds paled in comparison to the whitetail’s menace to people in the form of collisions of deer and motor vehicles, which were occurring at a rate of three thousand to four thousand per day,” according to Sterba. “The toll of cars crumpled, people killed and injured, Lyme disease contracted, gardens destroyed, crops eaten, and forests damaged,” he writes, justified The New York Times’s editorial conclusion that “white-tailed deer are a plague.”

Sterba lists several factors that made “such beautiful creatures become so much trouble.” These include a lack of predators, a decline in hunting, changes in habitat, mismanagement by state wildlife agencies, and human sprawl.

Whitetails are “quick studies,” he writes. It took them very little time to discover that “people who have sprawled across the landscape aren’t the predators they used to be.” The sprawl people brought with them attitudes that created ideal conditions for a whitetail explosion. Sprawl culture with its “exurban subdivisions, big-box houses on multiacre plots, weekend places, second homes, hobby farms, and even semiworking farms” created “a mosaic of hiding places, open places, feeding places, watering places, bedding places.” Moreover, sprawl people grew many plants they did not eat, harvest, or market. Using “prodigious amounts of fertilizer, water, and hired labor, they grew plants mainly to look at.” They created “deer nirvana,” a wildlife biologist said.

Then, says Sterba, they made one last crucial adjustment: they cleared the landscape of the last major deer predator remaining: themselves. Most did not hunt. They posted their property with “No Hunting” signs and passed laws against discharging firearms that effectively put large areas of landscape off limits for hunting:

Suddenly, for the first time in eleven thousand years, hundreds of thousands of square miles in the heart of the white-tailed deer’s historic range were largely off limits to one of its biggest predators. Suddenly, an animal instinctively wary of predators, including Homo sapiens, found itself in a lush habitat where major predators—drivers being the exception—didn’t exist.
Thinking of possible ways to avert a disaster in deer–human conflicts, Sterba imagines a return of the human predator. He writes of “professional” hunters who are seen as “new saviors” in some suburbs where sharpshooters are hired to kill deer and are paid with tax dollars. He describes a proposal to have professionals train local hunters to become “urban deer managers,” with the costs offset by selling venison in farmers’ markets. “It seems like a good solution,” he concludes, “but it probably won’t happen anytime soon.”

Copyright © 1963-2013 NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
By Donna Seaman
9:19 p.m. CST, November 11, 2012
    The drive from the Upstate New York airport to my parents' house took longer than the flight from Chicago, and I was elated to finally be in sight of the house. But the driveway was occupied by deer. Five elegant young does turned their large, deep, dark eyes on us with the disdain of teenagers annoyed at being interrupted. We gazed back, simultaneously thrilled by the proximity to such beautiful animals and impatient to park and stretch our legs. The deer flicked their tails, swiveled their ears, nosed the ground and slowly, grudgingly, sashayed onto the grass.
    As we extracted ourselves from the car, they gracefully promenaded across the lawn, slipping in among the trees along a busy street that funnels traffic onto Route 9, the heavily traveled highway that parallels the Hudson River.
    Jim Sterba, a distinguished foreign correspondent and national affairs reporter who was in the thick of things in Asia during and after the Vietnam War, escapes New York City on the weekends to stay in Dutchess County, not far from where I grew up. Sterba's first book, "Frankie's Place," is a memoir about courting and marrying his wife, the journalist and author Frances FitzGerald, whose own account of the Vietnam War, "Fire in the Lake," won the Pulitzer Prize.     His second book, "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds," is about why herds of deer now occupy our driveways and yards, eating our flowers and plants.
    Sterba begins "Nature Wars" with an impressive roll call of all the wildlife he and his wife see around the cottage they rent on a former 180-acre dairy farm. As I read this census, I find myself nodding. Even in our Poughkeepsie neighborhood, we see lots of different songbirds, woodpeckers, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, woodchucks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, beavers, ducks, eagles, turtles and blue heron. But there was no such cavalcade of wildlife when I still lived at home, back around the time I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."
    This fall marks the 50th anniversary of Carson's galvanizing exposé of the "sinister" effects of DDT and other chemical pesticides that were in widespread and wanton use following World War II. Carson's now classic book of warning begins with "A Fable for Tomorrow," which presents a world in grim opposition to the vitality Sterba describes.
    "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." Carson describes "prosperous farms," wildflowers, trees, an "abundance and variety" of bird life, streams full of fish, deer and foxes, all abruptly transformed when "a strange blight crept over the area . a shadow of death." Animals, people, plants and trees began to sicken and die. "There was a strange stillness." What caused this catastrophe? "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves."
    Carson's clarion book has been compared to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in terms of its role as a catalyst for social change. The environmental movement did coalesce in the wake of "Silent Spring," and laws were passed to protect endangered species and the air, water and land that sustain all of life. Even so, environmental threats continue to multiply. The battles to protect wetlands, forests, rivers, oceans, public lands and wildlife against pollution, destruction, decimation and global warming rage on. Environmental writers continued to sound the alarm. Carson wrote that science and literature share the same mission, to "discover and illuminate truth," and her intrepid and eloquent followers are many, including Gretel Ehrlich, John McPhee, Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben, Carl Safina, David Quammen and Elizabeth Kolbert. Yet there have been some phenomenal improvements. The facts about wildlife resurgence that Sterba present in his mind-bending dispatch from the new world of "people-wildlife conflicts" are startling and staggering.
    Remember the coyote who sauntered into a downtown Chicago Quiznos? The cougar Chicago police shot dead in Roscoe Village? Consider the more routine animal nuisances: herds of garden-devouring deer, gaggles of excreting Canadian geese and battalions of beavers busy chewing down cherished trees and building dams that cause infrastructure-damaging floods and even disrupt "the water flows around electrical power generation facilities." We have sprawled into animal terrain, building houses, malls, corporate parks and golf courses, and now, Sterba writes, "critters have encroached right back." And why not? We have enhanced their habitats and eliminated predators — although we do accidentally kill an appalling number of animals with our cars, and millions of birds die in collisions with high-rise windows. Filled with wonder over the beautiful animals that are now all around us, we feed wild birds (supporting a hugely profitable bird seed industry) and even coyotes and bears, inviting deadly attacks. And don't get Sterba started on the subject of feral cats.
    It is exciting to see wildlife. Consider, there were no deer left in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio by the late 19th century. No beavers anywhere. Restocking and restoration efforts have been a tremendous, resounding success. We owe profound thanks not only to environmental writers, but also to all the unsung biologists, environmentalists, policymakers, attorneys, grass-roots activists, government staffers and politicians who ensured that we averted ecological disaster 40 years ago. But just as we had no clue as to what havoc we were unleashing with the use of DDT, we have not been aware of the consequences of renewed animal populations. We've even been oblivious, Sterba tells us, to the return of the trees. The halt to deforestation in the late 19th century initiated an era of luxurious regrowth. Citing tree counts and aerial survey, Sterba asserts that we are all, in essence, forest dwellers now, even those of us who live in the heart of big cities. Trees support wildlife.
    Sterba is ferociously well-informed and lucid in his chronicling of "how we turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess." His book is a tale of noble intentions and unintended consequences, ignorance and aggression, idealism and irony, reality and responsibility.
    Here's one example of the many Sterba considers. Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling — nicknamed "Ding" because he "regularly dinged (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt" — was also "an ardent and knowledgeable conservationist." So FDR appointed him to a committee formed to figure out a way to restore the country's imperiled waterfowl. Also on board was Wisconsin-based Aldo Leopold of "A Sand County Almanac" fame, the man who founded the profession of game management. Leopold's paradigm-alerting land ethic, as he explained, "changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." This crucial land ethic also "enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." A vision to live by.
    Roosevelt then appointed Darling director of what would become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (for which Carson later worked). Darling proved to be a formidable and effective protector of ducks and geese, so much so that his agency inadvertently established the very conditions that nurtured today's immense population of "nuisance" Canadian geese.
    So we find ourselves in a quandary. American wildlife has rebounded from near-extinction to overabundance, and many of us recoil from the need to cull animal populations.
    How easy it is to hold fast to outmoded assumptions, to grow rigid in one's perceptions, to tune out the "other side." Thoroughly researched and powerfully written books such as "Silent Spring" and "Nature Wars" induce us to question our thinking, opinions and values. It's one thing to argue that animals are sentient beings and that we should never abuse or unnecessarily kill them. It's another to allow naïve and wishful fantasies about wild animals to cloud our understanding of what's at stake when nature gets out of balance, even if it's thanks to our interference, however well-intentioned. We are going to have to figure out how to live safely with all those amazing and, yes, precious, deer, geese and beavers, those coyote and cougars and bears.
    Donna Seaman is a senior editor at Booklist and editor of the collection "In Our Nature."
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

    Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Well worth the effort if you are engaged in conservation issues. Sterba starts his book on the borders of Maine’s Acadia National Park. Seeing some grapevines choking off a ravine and stream, Sterba rips out the interloping vines so the original forest can take hold. But his research reveals that the vines were probably planted in the 19th century, when the entire area was bucolic farmland. John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought the land, which was turned over to Acadia in 1961, and a new forest devoured the pasture that existed before.

    That is the thesis of this book: The major annihilation of nature in the U.S. occurred in the late 19th century, when everything from buffalo to hardwood forests was felled wholesale. The conservationist efforts of the past 100 years have been so successful that wildlife such as coyotes, turkeys, bears, and deer — not long ago a sight so rare that Americans stopped their cars to get a look — have become plentiful pests. At times this book reads like a well-reported tabloid exaggeration, but it will surely make you look differently at the “narrative of loss” at the heart of our environmental news coverage.

AUDUBON MAGAZINE, Nov. 2012.

    Whether it’s deer in the backyard or raccoons in the chimney, nature is making a comeback—in suburbia. In his new book, Nature Wars, reporter Jim Sterba explores how, ironically, many Americans are living closer to nature than ever before—and how ill-equipped we are to deal with it. After centuries of uncontrolled hunting and clear-cutting devastated ecosystems, the environmental movement inspired people to try to restore some kind of natural balance. While conservationists have unquestionably made incredible strides, Sterba argues that, close to home, we’ve overcompensated, paving the way for wild creatures to live in our lushly landscaped environs—with plenty of food and protection—but not in harmony. Beavers flood septic systems, deer devour plants, and black bears forage in our trash bins. At the same time, some suburbanites shy away from management strategies such as hunting and trapping—activities that, along with enacting ordinances to ban feeding wildlife and requiring that trash be stored in more secure bins, can help municipalities overcome this growing problem, Sterba argues. "Groups have to come together to find ways to manage the natural space where they live for the good of the ecosystem as a whole and not simply one overabundant or problematic species within it."


Watch the video: Sund og usund mad - derfor skal du droppe idéen! (January 2022).