Friday, August 21, 2009

A TOO TAME WILDERNESS?

Sam Smith, Progressive Review - The other day, driving down the two lane road to tourist-heavy Boothbay Harbor, ME, I ran into a traffic tie-up in both directions. I assumed it was an accident until I got closer and realized that the people out of their cars and trucks were all looking in the same direction - away from the road. The cause: a moose walking in a field next to the woods. One might have expected, what with all the human excitement, for the moose to have gone swiftly into the woods. Instead, she turned and casually marched towards the crowd as if auditioning for a re-run of North Exposure. She the, just as casually turned, and headed awaqy.

It probably wouldn't have struck me except for the fact that some days earlier another moose had wandered into an office building in another coastal town and I had also read a report of a bear being killed in Montana because it was getting too comfortable being around humans.

And now this story from the LA Times. Together they raise the interesting question: is the wilderness getting too tame?

LA Times - If you appreciate marine mammals and you have not taken a trip this summer aboard the Condor Express out of Santa Barbara, you're missing out. Not only are majestic blue and gregarious humpback whales concentrated in the same area in the outer channel, some of the humpbacks seem to truly enjoy the company of the vessel's passengers.

In fact, veteran Capt. Mat Curto is sure of it. "They just want to be friendly with the boat," he says. They will stay with you up to two hours at a time, circling the boat, looking up at you while they turn on their side.

"They have a real big interest in whale watchers and I seem to find that the more the whale watchers react to the whale, the more the whale will react to the whale watchers. If you get people clapping and yelling and whistling and cheering for the whale, the whale just feeds off of it."