The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to him.
Psalm 24:1 (New Living Translation)
I remember my dad telling me that although he spent most of his waking hours in the bush as a child, he never saw a deer in the Shell Lake area until he was an adult. That’s because he was born in 1919. That was before the introduction of game laws based on conservation biology. The early settlers basically shot any animals they could, and as a consequence wildlife populations were reduced to dangerously low levels.
Fast forward 80-odd years, and every fall I go back out to the Shell Lake area and hunt in the area my dad spent his childhood in. I typically see several deer in a day of hunting.
So why are there so many more deer in that area now than when Dad was a boy? There are probably several factors at play, including warmer winters with less snowfall, but I believe the most significant to be the introduction of science-based wildlife management. Game laws were introduced, setting limits and seasons, and subsequently the populations of most game animals are at much higher levels now than they were 80 years ago.
As in most other jurisdictions in the developed world, Saskatchewan has moved from an era of exploitation to one of conservation and active management of those species considered most desirable by humans. More recently the trend has been to ecosystem-based management, which takes a more holistic view of the connections between wildlife and their environment, instead of trying to manage individual species in isolation.
Considering those advances in natural resource management, it always amazes me when I encounter people who think that deer are endangered, or that all most of our forests should be preserved in parks without ever seeing axe or saw, instead of being sustainably managed for products that people require.
I guess my thinking on the topic is largely influenced by my Christian faith. My belief in God as creator (albeit over millions of years rather than a literal 7 days)* of this beautiful earth doesn’t leave room for selfish exploitation. I suppose that makes me an environmentalist. I also believe that humans have a special role in God’s creation, and it’s OK to use the rich resources for our needs (and yes, for our wants). I suppose that makes me pro-development. A word that ties together those two concepts is stewardship. I believe that this beautiful world isn’t ours to rape and pillage, but it is God’s creation, and we ought to be good stewards of it.
* NOTE: Terminology of intelligent design, theistic evolution etc. aside, yes I believe that the God of the Bible is behind it all, and sustains it all. However I don’t see Genesis as science.