A Habitat Obituary

Pheasants Forever’s Anthony Hauck posted a great tribute to his favorite slough, which sadly is no more. It got me thinking about another conservation failure. One I experienced firsthand.

The gently rolling hills in central Pennsylvania were replete with switch grass, and it wasn’t uncommon for my father and I to flush two dozen pheasants—real, honest to God wild pheasants—in a single afternoon.

Hardwoods surrounded the fields and thrived with ruffed grouse. If you walked deep enough into the trees, you’d discover a swamp teeming with wood ducks in October and mallards and blacks by Thanksgiving.

The nearby, soft earth also held an ample supply of woodcocks, which arrived like clockwork as soon as the leaves began to turn.

It’s the spot that made me a bird hunter for life. And, while I would’ve done anything to save it, today you’d never know it once provided such wonderful habitat. It’s been heavily developed, and the remaining land is farmed fence-to-fence. To this point I’ve been too bitter to write about it. Hauck too has experienced this emotion, but his blog post suggests adopting a healthier attitude:

"Seems like a good time to blame. To throw hands up in the air and do nothing. But it’s as good a time as any to try and make a difference. Before somebody else’s favorite slough runs out of time."

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2 Responses to A Habitat Obituary

Chuck wrote:
May 17, 2013

Just think how us really old timers feel. No more riding out to your favorite hunting spot on the streetcar with your trusty .22 in hand. And that field, it grew houses fifty years ago as did all the woods that surrounded it just like Kyle's. Try getting on the streetcar holding your .22 today and see what happens. Nobody thought anything about a teenager going out to shoot and riding public transportation. If you were only shooting rabbits and squirrels, no hunting license either.

Groundhogger wrote:
May 16, 2013

We not only lost habitat, we lost the most productive farmland in the country. One acre in this area produces as much as five acres in the midwest. Truly sad and self defeating behavior by the human race.