Behar: Wildlife has it hard enough
Wildlife has been under tremendous pressure for many years. We have expanded the human footprint in ways that make wildlife’s effort to survive and thrive more difficult.
By developing natural landscapes into human spaces, creating barriers for animal movement and migration, and pressuring them by recreation, we create unnatural struggles that wildlife are forced to overcome. I appreciate the need for people to have places to live and support themselves. But, in doing so, we create a moral obligation to lessen such negative impacts on our fellow living things.
Movement of animals is natural and necessary. They must move to survive, to eat, to find safe shelter, and to adapt to an ever-changing environment. Our collective impact on the climate makes this movement an even more urgent matter of survival.
The work of the Watershed Biodiversity Initiative has revealed that there seems to be adequate space and forage to provide survival opportunities. But, the wildlife must have access to those opportunities. That is what Roaring Fork Safe Passages is focused on: analyzing the need for and eventual establishment of corridors to allow wildlife movements across Highway 82 and elsewhere as needed.
Imagine having your kitchen on one side of the highway and the rest of your home on the other. Imagine your family on one side, and you on the other. Remember, multi-ton metal objects are hurtling along that highway day and night. That’s what our wildlife neighbors face every day.
It isn’t just that we break up habitats, occupy them, and change them. We create barriers to access the habits that remain. It isn’t enough to preserve, protect, and manage habitats on behalf of nature’s needs. We must provide safe access.
The newly formed Roaring Fork Safe Passages is trying to do just that. I support their efforts and those organizations such as the Watershed Biodiversity Initiative that support them by providing the data necessary to make good choices in how and where we provide that safe access.
Wildlife has it hard enough. Safe corridors for movement to help wildlife thrive isn’t just a great idea; it’s what we owe them in return for our collective actions.
If you’d like to learn more, attend a Naturalist Night on Jan. 25 and 26 in Carbondale and Aspen, where the executive director of Roaring Fork Safe Passages, Cecily DeAngelo, will speak.
Ted A. Behar