mule deer


Southwestern evening primroseTwenty-one fully-opened white primrose blossoms at the peak of my three Oenothera caespitosa plants—the stars of my 2009 rock garden. I checked them every morning, my joy boosted by bloom count.

Conversely, tethered to the amount of critter-caused damage was heartache. After cottontails ate half a dozen buds at a time and snipped off leaves, I posted wooden skewers as strategic sentinels to reduce access.

My morning ritual is to look out the bedroom window, first to majestic Cathedral Rock just catching the earliest rays of the sun, and then to the rock garden I've nursed for six years. Finally a good year, the first year I could see patches of white from the window—the prized white tufted primrose.

As soon as I dress, I tiptoe out (lest I startle wandering deer) to gaze upon my (and God's) handiwork. Thursday I couldn't see clearly from the window. Maybe the lipstick salvia was so lush it was blocking my view.

Reaching the garden, I could see something was wrong. I sniffed in cool air to clear my groggy brain. Bareness. That's it. All three white evening primrose plants were gone. Not a leaf or wilted flower left. Three smooth craters were the only evidence something, possibly something glorious, had been there.

javelina-pairJavelina. Collared peccaries. They like plants, and often dig for the delicacy of roots. I enjoy watching the javelina when I can. They're nocturnal so I miss most of their visits.

Living in a small town inside the National Forest, I've made peace with sharing with the forest creatures. Mostly, I plant the same vegetation that's abundant in the forest, rather than exotics that would be irresistible to our resident vegetarians: mule deer, javelina, desert and Eastern Cottontails. They can have some. After all, they were here first.

What I cannot appreciate is when they take it all. Twenty-four dollars worth of plants, plus tax, eaten in one night–probably in a few minutes. Peccary caviar. (They bulldozed the tiny 10-inch spears forming my makeshift fence.)

Taking it all is against the code of ethics. Even if you have a permit to collect specimens in a park or forest, you never pick them all. If there's only one, you can't take it. Everyone knows that.

  • Except animals.
  • And small children.
  • And politicians and
  • captains of industry.

Species are becoming extinct 100s to 1000s of times faster than they used to. We're running out of water. The glaciers are melting. Pollution threatens the very air we breathe. This cannot all be blamed on hundreds of thousands of cows belching. These devastations are caused by us: humans and our consumption lifestyle.

Come to think of it, the only reason wildlife can eat anything in my landscaping is that our city has left them a little bit of habitat around us. As soon as every lot has a house on it, and every house a dog or two, we won't see deer sauntering by at dusk and dawn, collared peccaries nosing around for roots and vegetable matter, or cottontails making bunnies in the yard. We're paving over their food sources, and being told by city builders to deny them water.

Something's wrong here.

Taking too much. Taking is too much. Too much is being taken. From them. From us. Someone's taking it all. We're all taking it all.

When there is nothing left to take, then what?

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