Truck drive by
Animal tracks; Grizzly bears
Response to playback: Normal song.
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
22 Jan 1996
- 24.0 km N of Polebridge; Trailcreek; Diane Boyd's cabin
- 48.91944 -114.40722
- 1:00 - 1:21
- Polebridge; North Fork Hostel
- 48.76346 -114.28169
- 10:21 - 26:14
- south of Polebridge; along North Fork Flathead River
- 48.76528 -114.285
- Coniferous Forest
- 35:48 - 2:06:19
Stereo=2: 1=L, 2=R
NPR/NGS RADIO EXPEDITIONS "Life on the Brink"
Log of Interview with Doug Chadwick in Montana
DC: 45:40 I stopped here bc I saw either a set of weasel or mink tracks, coming under the edge of the ridge here to the river and I noticed a lead under a Hawthorn bush. And what I wanted to do is sit here in the middle of the snow covered bridge, look down at the ice on Hay (?) Creek and have you guys envision a bunch of naked people out here jumping off and screaming bc this is our summer swimming hole [AC: laughter]. And then I want to envision if you can about 2 months later, towards the end of August and September there comes a time when the Huckleberries shriveled have fallen off of the bushes, and the Hawthorne bushes down here are loaded with berries. Big, plump, purple berries. And so the bears all come down from the mountains on both sides of the valley, and this place is one great big Grizzly Bear picnic area. And the Hay Creek has gone low by that time of year, and there is a lot of mud showing along the banks, and you can barley see a place on that mud that does not have Grizzly tracks all through it -and Black Bear tracks. But when enough Grizzlies move in the Black Bears move out. So there are interactions even btwn these two kinds of bears, and one good reason that Black Bears have to be able to climb trees is that adult Grizzly Bears can't. And adult Grizzlies will dine on Black Bears. Wolves will dine on young Grizzly cubs, and I think that's one reason young Grizzly cubs can still climb trees. Why else would they need to climb trees? [AC: right]. They've got a big parent to defend them against virtually everyone else. Maybe cougars. And what's interesting is that down here I'll see -again it is snow covered, we're picking out tracks here and there -but there are moose, there are lots of elk, and I'm going to show you where they winter, just across on an island full of 500 year old trees.
AC: 47:43 One of the things that learned from talking to Diane Boyd is that actually this is a good season for seeing signs of wildlife. You see the tracks of wildlife. Where they have been. She can't really follow the wolves in the summer nearly as easily as she can in the winter.
DC: 48:01 winter.... when -if and when it stops snowing here, we finally got a huge tablet running up and down 60 miles of this valley, telling us where the animals have left their signatures. And really, as part of f -what keeps you living here is that you can go out, and you can see all of the stories in the snow. The animals can be really hard to see. And we got short days, and it's tough, but you can always find the tracks. You can back track them and see where the maybe -in Diane's case you can see who is eating whom but which among the predators are -is it the bear? Did the bear chase off the cougar from a kill? Did the wolves then come in and chase the bear off? And we were talking earlier how do these animals relate to each other -who wins out is it the cougar, or wolf? Who is tougher? Who is the top predator? Maybe that's more of a human way to look at it -maybe that's not the right question. The main thing is that we do not know how these animals relate to each other, bc we have never had a place to look before. We've never had a big laboratory, or a big wild land system like this in which we had all of the predators that are supposed to be here, and all of the moose and deer and white tail deer, and mule deer, and elk, and we have even had a few woodland caribou come through. And we can find out how all of these animals interact. And then, if we go far enough today -if we can ski far enough -we would also see mid¬size predators. We would see wolverine sign, perhaps, we might get lucky and see lynx. We'd probably see otter, and mink, and martin, and fisher, and you start to add all of these animals up and figure out how are they dividing up food. And in this silent world we are in it gets to be a pretty complex, and pretty diverse ecosystem for big animals, probably one of the best in North America.
AC: 50:06 You know we have a hard time find -You know, we've had a hard time finding wildlife here over three days. How do they find it? The wolf still need to eat, the cougar have to eat.... how do they find them?
DC: 50:20 Well, wolves have big pads on their feet, and really long legs compared to dogs and they can cover 20 miles a day w/o breaking a sweat. They can cover 50 miles if they have to. A wolverine will travel up to 50 to 75 miles in the course of a 24 to 48 hour period once in a while. And so they are doing what we can't. They are getting on their snow shoes, their natural snow shoes, and the lynx of course have great big furry feet that really are snow shoes, and they are just padding back and forth through tremendous parts of this valley. And if it's there they will find it, but they have to be designed to do that. The elk and deer -as the snow deepens, the elk and deer will -it gets too tough for them to travel. So the elk and deer are going to pick a few of the best places, with the most food -shrubs and the edge of the river where the snow has either melted away, or under the old growth trees where the trees catch the snow like a roof, and they will concentrate there, and then the wolves will find them. In their travels they will find those key wintering areas, and then there is blood on the snow. And you will see -I went down with Diane to one area, and w/in about a mile we found six deer carcasses, we found grizzly, cougar and wolf sign all concentrated in this one area. So, the predators will find where they are -they have to. And yet, it's a really good question, bc about half the wolves or fewer will make it -of the new pups each year. So it's tough. I don't know enough about the cougar survival here in the North Fork, but it's also -it's getting to be a pretty tough proposition. And as you get more of these animals -how many wolves can live in this valley do you think?
AC: 52:18 I asked Diane that. She said it's probably about right now -about 30. Bc they have -each pack has about 6 pups a year, that should be 18 more ever year, but in fact the number doesn't change. It stays about 30.
DC: 52:35 and that means that there is not room for them here, which means there is not enough food for those additional animals. And that's an important thing that I think Diane has learned in this valley. Bc when the wolves first came in, as you can imagine, there were people that were delighted, and wanted to go out and howl with brother wolf, and there were people that were screaming about doom, and hide your children -and all of the animals -the wild animals will be killed -they will flood down into the valleys, and eat up the live stock, etc. And I did wonder what will happen to the deer, the elk and the moose, and which were at an all time high. Well, the wolves have not been down a bit. But rather than keep building up, and getting thicker and thicker populations the wolves hit about thirty in a 60 mile long valley, which isn't a great many, and that was about 10 years ago, and they have stayed at that number ever since. And the main enemy of the wolf -other than man -is other wolves. And the main enemy of cougars -other than man -is other cougars. The main enemy of the grizzly bear -other than man -is other grizzly bears. So they have their own behavioral, territorial, aggressive behaviors built in. And nature hasn't designed this so that they do build up to the point where they all starve equally. Nature has designed it to where there is room for a few and true territorial interactions and competition, x number will stay, and the rest are going to have to disperseand find a new home. 54:09
AC: 54:10 When you say nature has designed it, is this your idea of biodiversity? Is biodiversity nature's design or is it an accident -or what is is?
DC: 54:22 Do I have to answer that? [AC: laughter]
AC: Yes -and in 25 words or less.
AC: I don't know -that's maybe too big a question, but that's the kind of -see that woman over there.... that woman!
DC: 54:40 You better ask that again!
FLAWN: 54:42 I know it is a little counter-intuitive too, but project a little bit more, like you were standing farther apart. Don't be too intimate sounding.
DC: 54:53 Why don't we -you want to ski just in a little bit
[AC: ok. let's go in a little ways]. Ok. So ask me -is biodiversity by nature's design?
AC: I guess ... I know carolyn wants this big broad biodiversity question [DC: that's a good question, yeah]
55:52 -56:14 ambi: ok skiing
DC: 56:26 Alex -if you look carefully at the bushes we are going by you will notice that almost everyone of them has been cropped off by somebody. They have all been browsed (???) ....PAUSE AS THE PLANE GOES OVER.... .
57:12-57:18 ambi: ok skiing
FLAWN 57:20 Ok. Why don't you stay about there. We'll go with the bigger, physical space here, and you can project a bit more.
DC: 57:33 Extrapolating like crazy now.... PLANE .... I see blue sky. I mean I can see a faint blue.... [CJ: ???] I like to keep people's spirits up.
FLAWN: 58:08 This isn't one of the valley's that the airforce uses for low level flights?
DC: No, but over the Bob Marshal wilderness they figured they could do that bc there were no people there. And when I was studying mtn. goats down there, I would get up on a winter day on the cliffs -you were asking about finding what they eat and so on -and these damn sonic booms would go off, and they would trigger avalanches, and -I got caught in a couple that I started, one that they started....
AC: 58:49 Alone by yourself caught in an avalanche.
DC: Yeah. But not in a big way where I was buried, I just was up to here. It just took me down a hill, and I never went in. It wasn't huge -the big thundering kind that go 200 miles an hour, and snap trees with the winds from their passage.
FLAWN: still there -
Carolyn: and you can just record the birds....
BIRDS ambi: 59:35 -very very faint birds calling -1:00:47-ok birds, but faint -1:00:53 -zipper....
1:01:10 DC: I just stopped bc our weasel tracks moved over here under this bush, the Hawthorne, and now we our at a Service (?) berry bush, and they are really tasty, and make 'em into jam, they are full of vitamin C, and if -when we go by a bush like this all the way as we ski in, along this bottom land, look at the tops and -FLAWN NEEDS TO CHANGE POSITIONS.... 1:02:16 -ok, well we are following the tracks of a weasel, and a mouse or a vole -[FLAWN: now you are looking that way!] ok, but coming through here across -FLAWN 1:02:29 -let's get a couple of moments of silence here
DC: 1:02:33 I am following the tracks of a weasel who's probably following the tracks of that mouse. And they lead from that Hawthorne bush we were just looking at over that service (?) berry, which is one of my favorite berries here bc it is big, and plump and juicy, and makes good jam, and is loaded with vitamin
C. And the service berry bush has a clubbed, the tops and most of it's branches have been chewed off. And it is a favorite food, and a very nutritious food for the elk and deer here. And as we ski in, we are going to find that most of the bushes along the path, that are high in nitrogen and carry a lot of nutrients in their bark, even for the winter, are going to have that clubbed look. They are going to be heavily browsed. And this is what's supporting the deer and elk and moose along those river bottoms.
1:03:28 I also heard -did you hear a bird Alex? [AC: yeah] Was it a high -I've got terrible hearing in the high ranges.
AC: 1:03:36 It was high and kind of chirpy -boop, boop....
DC: Bc the tops of the spruce trees, and the sub-alpine furs are loaded with cones, and there are pineciscans (?), and grosbeaks (?), and there are -what else do we have here? grey crowned rosy finches. I like that name. And red crossed bills, and white-winged cross bills. And they are all specialized for coming in the tops of those trees and working open the cone. And the cross bill have their name bc their bill goes crossed, and becomes like a pry, and they can pry open the bracks (?) that cover the seeds on the cones. ANd they are quite an industrious machine. They get up there, and parts of the pine cones come flying down from the top of the trees, and these guys are busy harvesting 150 feet up in the air. Let's go in on to the cabin. It's right around the corner.
1:04:38-1:05:24 ambi: ok snow crunching/skiing
DC: 1:05:25 See how many of these have been browsed. You can get an eye for the clubbed look. Not always heavily. This is willow. A favorite moose food. And when this gets tall, and the moose have run out of branches lower down they straddle it, and just walk over the bush like this, and push it down to where they can graze on it. So it never quite grows out of the reach for a moose, bc it is a strong. .... these are wasp galls. These things that look like cones [AC: yeah -] are formed by a wasp -a parasitic wasp.
AC: Are there eggs in there or something?
DC: 1:06:19 OFF MIKE -The eggs hatch in there and the chemical of the wasp secretes, causes the plant to grow a nice womb for the wasp young. Nice, big protective womb so nobody else can get at them. And it also gets pulpy in there which gives them something to feed on as they develop. 1:06:46 So we've got real pine cones around here, and real cones on some of the trees, and some that are produced by insects, or that have tricked the plant into producing them.
AMBI: ok. crunchy skiing....
DC: 1:07:00 More Hawthorne.
AMBI 1:07:06-1:07:18 ok skiing.
DC: 1:07:27 -OFF MIKE -you see the deer tracks leading off through there.
AMBI: 1:07:30-1:07:56 -ok skiing
AMBI: 1:07:57 Real crunch down on the snow.... NG (no good) 1:08:19-1:09:34 rustling around, skiing -ok for bg [1:07:45 ¬bg: very faint huffing and puffing-ok!!!]
DC: 1:09:36 Ok. I am following elk paths, and I am kind of in the mood.... [FLAWN-hold on I am still getting somebody's noise coming up behind me] Ok. I am following elk paths, and just for the heck of it, I am in the mood to be an elk right now. And I have been out, coming along here, and I have been grazing service berry, and I've got young aspen -YUH. good stuff. And I've got hawthorne, I've got willow, I've got red osier dogwood. I've got a smorgasbord of stuff, but I have been out feeding for a while, and time to rest. And I've been going through 2 to 3 feet of crusty snow, and I am bushed. Now where is the best place that I can go. I would come under these spruce and you notice there is only about -oh, there is less than 2 inches of snow there. It is virtually bare. And they don't have to spend any energy to get around under these old growth trees. And meanwhile, they've got extra thermal cover, or protection against heat loss bc the tree is like a big blanket btwn them and the cold stars above.
AC: 1:10:56 How old is that tree, Doug?
DC: 1:10:57 This one is probably three hundred, and two hundred to three hundred years old and just across on the island -across the river channel -they are 4 to 5 hundred years old. they have been here since Columbus' time -
AC: 1:11:12 But you know, for a tree 2 to 3 hundred years old
it's -how tall is that? -I don't think it is even a hundred feet.
DC: 1:11:20 Well, how long do we have to grow here? [laughter] If you start growing much before mid-May you are going to get frosted every night. And you can always tell a North Fork plant bc even though the days might be really warm, and you might jump in the river for a quick dip in April they are still not putting out their buds. And there is a good reason. Bc sometimes during May and even early June it is going to snow again. And the nights are going to go down to really frosty temperatures and nip those buds. So it takes a long time to make a tree like this, and an even longer time to make one 500 years old. But once you get a stand like that it's a real treasure and it is part of the diversity of the North Pork. Bc on the island where you have got an ancient forest its got pine martins its got piliated woodpeckers its got a lot of old growth species, and also great mushrooms. And great fungal mats going through the forest floors that help support these trees, and yet right next to them are channels that the river has washed in a flood and created brand spanking new habitat that is 2 or 3 years old, and in the case of this stuff 1 year old since it flooded last year. So you go from a 500 year old habitat that is pretty complex to a brand new one where everyone is just establishing themselves and starting through that whole pattern of succession again. And then you go beyond that river bar, and the next thing you see is a more typical North Pork forest whose age depends on when the last fire sweep through. So when I think of diversity down here I don't think of -we are not talking about a rainforest of hundreds and hundreds species of trees, and millions of insects and epiphytes, and all kinds of things living up in their branches. But there is a tremendous amount of diversity if you can envision this forest over time, and if we had a snap shot every year, and could flip -riffle (?) ripple(?) through those series of snap shots put in order with our thumb, we would see forest rising and falling as -they'd rise up to a certain height and then go up in a burst of flames, down to nothing and coming up again, and everything would always be in motion. ~rest -meadows would be expanding as a flood, and grasses and sedges come in, and then as they fill in make better soil; the forest is going to recover them. So meadows are going back and forth, forests are going up and down, rivers are carving out new channels, and we still have got these pockets of ancient forests, ancient woodlands in among them. We've got the glaciers up there grinding out the freshest habitat of all on the continent, and tundra meadows just -where life is just getting started. We are on the zone btwn no life -or life's possibilities are being explored up there, and then down here we've got ancients forests. So, when you put all of that together, and add in the factor of time, you do get a terrific amount of diversity. But it can be hard to see when you come skiing through on a January day, in dead silence in a snow-bound world. 1:14:34
FLAWN: that worked real good in terms of imaging here. if you can close in a little closer in back of me i can get you that way too...........
DC: how we doing on time -CJ: ok it is 9am
AMBI: 1:15:24-1:15:52 good skiing
DC: 1:16:33 I just stopped beneath another tree w/almost no snow beneath it, but enough snow to show us the tracks of the squirrel, and the red squirrels up in the old spruce harvesting cones like the birds i mentioned earlier. but he's also, earlier in the year, harvesting a lot of mushrooms, and they are the truffles that produce the mycorrhiza fungus that run all through the sub-soil here, and help nourish these trees on water; essentially fairly nutrient poor glacial gravels. So we've got this squirrel, after eating the truffles, is spreading those spores as it leaps from tree to tree, and here it's crossed from a cottonwood over to a spruce. as it -and each time it drops it's pellets, of spreading it's fungal spores -they are like little packets. They are seeding these throughout the forest. And I also stopped bc I noticed the flood has left debris, grasses and old river brush, piled up against the upriver side of this tree, as high as 4 feet. So this whole place has been scoured. It has had a whole new layer of silt put down to help nourish this flood plain.
AC: 1:17:51 I see the bark is chewed off this branch over here. What did the -
DC: Let me take a 100k... I am walking over wild rose and I am walking over snow berry to get there and the both of them are terrific grouse food. And we have a lot of rough grouse running around through these bottom woodlands. You know I can't tell for sure if that's a porcupine -at this level it could also be a deer coming through and rubbing the velvet off its horns in the spring -oh i am sorry, in the late summer.... i was just looking for signs of beetles on the tree. Bc it has got a lot of snap running down it which makes me wonder if its been invaded.
AMBI: 1:18:48-1:19:05 loud rustling... ok
AMBI: 1:19:06-1:20:31 -NG skiing
DC: 1:20:34 We've got time to go in briefly, or go down just to the river channel.
AC: I think we should go to the river channel.
FLAWN: Yeah. I think we should stay out.
DC: 1:20:47 Good idea.... if we've got a few extra mins. on the way back we can just pop in.
AC: 1:21:06 Did you build that foundation Doug?
AC: God almighty. that looks like a great job.
DC: Well, it's pretty rough. It's more finished off inside, but it is warm, it is dry.
AC: That's terrific. What -that's a native stone foundation?
Where did you get the rock -out of the river?
FLAWN -no. that's gravel.
DC: it's more old river gravel, more ardulite (?). Some of it came from talis slides (?) up on the sides of the mountains as well.
AC: Must have been a job to lick the net -
DC: Well you know the main virtue had is it's absolutely free. I'd say most of the logs came out of old logging stash/slash (?) piles, and a neighbor who was cutting them 'cause they has beetles -he was going to cut them for sale anyway -said come on up, and pick the ones you want for your cabin. And-
FLAWN: is that a snow mobile?
DC: yeah... it costs 200 bucks to build this 'till I had to buy the glass.... just labor... [AC: he gave you the logs?] yeah ¬
actually i paid him 80 bucks just to make him feel better... and one of these days i might finish it.
AMBI: skiing -NG ... through 1:24:32
DC: 1:24:33 Well, I sure wish you could see the mtns.
FLAWN SETTING UP
AMBI 1:26:29 -very very faint trickle of water in the river...
AC: 1:26:48 Doug, you wrote a piece called the "Biodiversity Challenge." What do you mean by that?
DC: Well, the challenge of -well ....I want to take just one sec to think about that carefully. [AC: alright.] Biodiversity is a word I have heard a lot of lately in the last several years. It trips easily off the tonques of scientists and land managers these days, and yet I am not sure what it means. It is often described as the full variety of species, and all of the process associated with thea. All of the interactions, and all of the biological processes. But doesn't that cover almost everything1 And it is a wonderful concept, but it is still a vaque one. And, it is easier for me to think of it standing here along the edge of a river in terms of an otter going pad, pad, pad, pad, slide ¬with his belly on the ice coming down here. Or, the head of a black bear unexpectedly showing through the brush on the other side. And what I think of as biodiversity is it really means the splendor of the living world, and the amount of new and interesting, and wondrous things I am going to be able to see and explore in my lifetime, and in my children's lifetime. And the challenge -the biodiversity challenge -is to keep as much of that as possible, in a world with an exploding human population. 1:28:39
AC: 1:28:48 In Madagascar I saw lemurs living in a very remote and isolated place with a group of gold miners, co-existing perfectly well. And here in a place that is also remote and isolated I find wolves co-existing with the human community also pretty well. Is that the same thing? Is that what is happening with wildlife?
DC: 1:29:20 What is happening with wildlife is that the mammals we are talking about are smart and are adaptable for the most part, and figure out how to live next to us providing we can figure out how to live next to them. And leave them some room, and the food and the habitat they need , and then simply not kill them. So yes, we've got wolves, but more importantly from the danger aspect we've got great big old grizzly bears running all around this country. And the wisdom was that you can not have grizzlies and humans in the same place, and the grizzlies are the epitome of a wilderness species. Well, they do symbolize the strength of wilderness, they symbolize the need for vast tracks of undeveloped land -undeveloped in the sense of industrialized -but these are brilliant animals, they are really smart, and it takes them -I have a friend who trains grizzlies for movies and ads, and I have watched his bear at work at the response of 60 different commands. It only needs to be taught something once and it gets that. I wish people could do that. And so, these bears in the North Fork, and there is radio tracking, scientific proof of this, they have learned to live around us. they have managed their movement so that they don't trespass where humans are active. They become more active at night, when we are not. They have learned where to go, and where not to go. What is safe, and what isn't. And they are definitely letting us walk by w/o bothering us. These traditions -these are cultural traditions as I see them -it's like another race out here. All races maybe need to learn a little more tolerance of how to live with other races. And you can practice it out here with wolves, and bears, and cougars. You can't leave your dog food up on the porch. You can't leave your groceries out besides the cabin. You can't have dried fish hanging up that you have taken from the river. You have to think about who owns what. and you can't go on in that old heedless human way of: this is all mine, and I will do whatever I want. We are after all Homo sapiens. We are constantly reminded here of by a fresh print, a pile of dung steaming in the trail in front of you. That we are not the sole, smart, sociable, powerful creatures around here. And I think this is fairly close to the environment in which humans arose. I think we were born in this kind of wildness -not so cold maybe ¬but surrounded by the forces of other societies, and other bigpowerful lives. I think it has helped shaped us, and I think it gives a lot of meaning to how we can live today. And I think we can have almost a parallel world of those animals and humans we can have both side by side. It does not have to be all wilderness or all human dominated. I think we need to just learn a little bit more about where to walk, and how and what to listen for and think about what they need. 1:32:57
AC: 1:33:01 Are you saying that the animals don't need the wilderness? Do we not need wilderness? If the animals don't need the wilderness who does need it?
DC: No. I did not say animals do not need wilderness. I just meant they are not obliged to live there, and only there. As long as we are killing them, as long as we are monopolizing a lot of resources they need they are going to have to have a refuge, and that refuge is wilderness. And wilderness is extremely important to a lot of animals. Most times that you find bears and wolves it's when there is less than one mile of road per square mile of land. It's almost like a law of physics where you get more roads than that it means more people are traveling them, people with all kinds of attitudes and expectations, living off of old myths and stories they have heard about bears and wolves, and they are going to pop the first one that they see. And they are going to say it charged me, and the fish and game are going to come up and look at the body and say no -it was a hundred yards away, and running in the opposite direction. But in that person's mind it was still charging. So as long as you got that out there, or you got the attitude -by god I can do what ever I want here, and I don't want to have to worry about these other creatures -yes, they are going to need wilderness. But, I think we are on the edge here where wilderness grades into a small amount of human habitation. I think we can learn -I have to believe there is some way we can learn to live wleach other, bc there is not enough wilderness to support bears and wolves. They may need it, but if that's all they can live in bc of our attitudes I think they are on their way out. There is simply not enough tracks of big wild country for them to do that. They are going to use private land. They are going to at least cross it, going btwn blocks of wilderness. And we've got to factor that in somehow if we want them to survive. 1:35:07
AC: 1:35:09 But maybe one of the aspects of biodiversity is adaptability -that things do adapt, can adapt, can change a little -I mean they can't live downtown, but they can live with some human contact.
DC: 1:35:27 They can all live in our hip pocket if we are willing to let them -um..... I'm not -everyone seems to have a different feeling about what these animals mean in terms in danger. To me it's liberating. I like having them around. I like going into their homeland. I like them being on the periphery of mine, bc I live it a whole different level, and I know there are bears and wolves and cougars here. I am more keenly alert than I can be in any other way. I pay more attention to the tracks, and the sounds, and the scents around me. And that's a wonderful thing. I can't be in the natural world the same way where there aren't these kinds of animals. And you are asking if they can live with us, and I think it is us that needs to make a change. The animals can adapt. Yeah. I am wondering how much we can change our attitudes. Bc 30 years ago a wolf was seen as seen as a flaw in nature. There was somethinq wronq w/predators killinq nice animals like elk and deer and moose. And we have changed a bit. But to a lot of the managers, and a lot of the public, still doesn't seem right that something besides us should be out determining how many elk and deer and moose there are. And what I am trying to do as I look at bioloqy, is not endlessly accumulate facts or data, and learn all I can about one individual species after another. I am tryinq to learn to see the wolf in the deer, and the deer in the wolf. I don't think the deer would have the shape or the speed, or the keen senses it does. It couldn't jump so hiqh. It wouldn't have the society it has if it weren't for wolves; those were the main force of natural selection for deer for thousands of years. I don't think you could understand why elk run 3S miles an hour if you don't have qrizzly bears in the system. And I don't think you could understand why moose are so powerful and could plow throuqh this snow if you don't have couqars in the system. And I don't think you can understand trees like this if you are not lookinq at beetles, and if yo are not lookinq at funqi. And I don't think ¬what I am tryinq to do, as I said, is see the deer and the wolf. You can't have one wlo the other. And then I am tryinq to see the beetle and the funqus and the alqae and the stream and the wolf and the deer. And I qot to admit I don't know what I am doing yet, but I am learninq. And it is really fun and there is no end to it. 1:38:22
AC: 1:38:25 Don't you run into people who say, well, how do you prove that? How do you know it is so. There you are off pursuing that, but I am bothered by these wolves or these bears. Or I want to build a road over here to get at some gold or something i there.
Well, I am going to come at this in a more scientific way ok, bc when you talk about biodiversity.....TAKE 2 -1:39:09 When we talk about biodiversity it is a tricky concept. I don't know who knows exactly what biodiversity means. But, I think we are trying to get at a kind of wholeness, and a kind of meaning in our relationships with nature. Now, the reason it is tricky to talk about in other than scientific terms -in other words when we try to make a simple statement about what biodiversity is, so anyone can understand it, you find yourself gushing odd poetry, you find yourself spouting new agey kind of philosophy bc it does have to do with wholeness and meaning and the integrity of things. It has to do with going out to a place and saying ah ¬this feels just right. This is the way it is supposed to be. which means that everything is here, doing what it supposed to do. But it is going to take us a long, long time to figure out all of those little interactions. And when someone like Mike Ivie, the entomologist I often travel with up here who is a beetle guy, who loves these -he's like an 11 year old kid out -¬-PROBLEM W/TAPE(l sec.)--if he comes back and says guess what I discovered 50 new species of beetles in the North Folk some entomologists are going to say great and others are going to say oh -that's the biodiversity stuff. Now we've got 50 more species we've got to save and worry about. And when I talk about seeing the beetle and the bear -the dung beetle and the bear we can certainly see, or the deer in the wolf -I think what this comes down to is we don't have to save 50 more kinds of beetles or 30 new kinds of plants out there. We only have to save one thing, and that is the ecosystem That's the living fabric that surrounds us here and I think we can have people living here, and we can have this fabric intact, and we just need to know as much as we can about the variety of life here and how it works, and we are smart enough, and the bears and the wolves are smart enough, and nature has enough smarts in its genetic code that we can figure out how to do this together. I don't want a world where nature is walled off in these refugia, the wilderness strong hold sanctuaries that we only go in once and a while from the city, and this is where we go to restore our soul. I want it to be part of my everyday life. I think it makes it stronger, I think it makes us better everyday people. I think it gives us a kind of meaning that is lacking in a lot of cities, in a lot of environments that make no sense to me when I go to visit them. I don't get it. I don't get cities. I get this, and I know how it feels, and I know it is safe here. I know that when I've got grizzly bears people ask what good is a grizzly, I say eh -if we are keeping the habitat for them I know that I've got clean water, I've got clean air. I don't have to lock my door bc of crime. It means there is a lot of open space and wild land. That doesn't mean there can't be people in it though. But it mens that we have to learn how to do it. Don't you think we can? 1:42:38
AC: 1:42:41 You wrote the opening of The Kingdom -In the opening of The Kingdom you talk about this place. I wonder if you could -just extemporaneously repeat the thoughts from the introduction of the book about what happens when you walk out here......
DC: SPEECHLESS .......
BREAK: REVIEW NOTES .......
AC: 1:45:12 OK. This place was different. There were more things here, and yo in fact have written about large american mammals that are no longer with us, or highly endangered anyway. And tell me what happened in this country in the last 500 years.
DC: 1:45:35 We roared across it, and tried to turn it into Europe. We took prairies with fantastic concentrations of bison and plain's grizzlies, and plain's ?? and pronghorn, and we tried to make them into European gardens and pastures. We went out to arid parts of the west semi-desert, and we tried to do it there. We went up into the mountains here and we tried to settle it the same way. We never really came in asking: "how does this place work? Who's here? How can we fit into this?" We asked how can we transform it and shape it into something we are used to, we are comfortable with and we like. And at the same time we love certain aspects of the wilderness, we got romantic about it. We missed these animals and in some way we kept a few little tiny museum like refusia where they could stay, although we missed a few. And we lost hundreds of species in the last 500 years. We lost species people don't even know the name of any more: emerald trout, the heath hen, and the sea mink back in the coast of Kaine in New Enqland; stellar sea cow -a huqe manatee that lived up off the coast of Alaska, and over towards Russia. .e are standing in one of the few places where almost everybody that belonqs here is still here. And now we ask the question of how to keep them. Now you are asking me how do we miss them? The so what question? If we loose another species so what? [AC: yeah] I think in a lot of cases we ask that question only as this thing as winking out -this thing, this plan is winking out -and we never really got to know just what it does. All we notice is that in deqraded systems when enouqh species are missinq something seems to go wrong, the water turns dirty. The land is full of weedy alien plants. It takes a lot more work to raise veqetables. If you are out on the prairie you've qot to spray everykind of pesticide and herbicide to keep things going. We are asking by default sort of -we know something is broke now, but which species was it, or how many species do we have to have to make this thing run a certain way. And that's a different question than asking what happens if there are no more grizzly bears, or what happens if there are no more buffalo..... I am rambling.........
AC: 1:48:45 You have in this valley cougar, grizzly and wolves which are 3 many people call them fearsome species -predators ¬big predators. Which one, as they live together here over the last 15 years, which one is the best predator.
DC: The first wolf in half a century came back into this valley in 1978 or '79. The first pack bred in Canada -the first pack in the West -to breed south of canada was here in the early 1980s. So we are just finding out what role the wolf has here. The cougar population has increased mightily lately bc there have been a series of light winters, and there have been lots of elk and deer to eat. And, so this is the first time anywhere we have been able to look at how all of these big predators relate to one and other and compete. The first chance we would have at answering your question -who is top dog, or top cat, or top bear -and maybe I am guessing that here isn't an answer to that. I am guessing that over the thousands of years each of these predators has chosen to specialize in a certain way. They have divided things up, there's room for them all, and there is room for all the mid-size predators too. All the martens, and fishers, and wolverines and lynx. And each are especially good at certain things. The grizzly is just as happy digging up starchy roots over on this river bottom, or going off and eating berries. When we got a good huckleberry here the wolves lips are purple, and so are the coyotes. But the cat is always going to be out eating fresh meat. So there's a division of things here, and I think if we go in and ask who is the biggest, meanest, and toughest, that's more -that tells us more about how humans think than how animals work. That's like -let's build a big arena and throw them in 2 by 2 and see who comes out on top. People like that; they will pay good money for that. I think nature keeps creating more splendor, more living space, more ways of doing things and that's what biodiversity is, in a sense. it's an endlessly inventive process. it's creation. it's on going creation. and when we talk about saving species, or speciesbeing lost to us, we are not only loosing those individual things, but as the ecosystem shrink, and the vitality is lost we loose that much creative force from our lives. We loose that chance of seeing new splendors created even now. Speciation and more diversity. so, we are talking about saving not the parts,but the process. And not huge lists of species that we have to worry about, but just one ecosystem at a time, keeping it working and keeping the force of creation splendid around us. 1:52:35
AC: Ok. You have led me to the last question which should have been the first question.... can you just give me a brief description of the ecosystem for someone who needs to know -ok what's here... are we in the middle of a desert? where are we?
DC: 1:53:10 Most people call this the north woods bc we are surrounded by -1:53:19 -RAVEN calls.... ***1:53:55, *1:54:13
1:55:09 ...we are in what is usually called the north woods bc we are surrounded by tall, dark coniferous trees -pines and spruce -subalpine fir. But the north wood goes all across this continent, and we are in a section that is btwn 2 mtn ranges. The continental divide is 10 miles east of us, and the white fish range, the top of it, is about 10 miles west. The slopes are only a couple of miles on either side, and we are along the river that sweeps down in btwn those ranges of mtns. And we've got a mixture of old growth forest, of fire dependent or fire maintained, or fire created woodlands that go through a succession of lodge pole pine, western larch, douglas fir, and then up into subalpine fir, and angleman spruce. We've got along the river banks there are willow, cotton wood, aspen, and a lot of brushy species. And on the side hills -maples, red maples, and service berry, snow berry, lots of other kinds of brush, and I'm not really sure what the heck I am supposed to be doing here. Am I giving........1:56:52 -Well, I have been describing the vegetation, but I think I need to get at the fact that we have a wild valley about 60 miles long. There's no electricity up it, there's one road on one side of the river, there is a much smaller road that's only open part of the year across the river inside Glacier National Park. The east side of the valley is Glacier Park. The west side is national forest, except for about 3 percent of the land, which is privately owned. It was homesteaded around the turn of the century this used to be a place where you came up and made your living trapping, hunting, looking for oil. There were hydro-carbons in some of this area. And just living. And that is still what some people do. We still have the odd trapper up here. We've got people get a moose in for the winter or a couple of elk and a good garden, and 2 tanks of propane and that will pretty much do 'em for the rest of the year. And we've got some second homes. More all of the time of people that want to come up part of the year and enjoy the mtns and the lakes and the rivers, and then go back to where ever it is they came from. But it is still essentially wild. It is still essentially a place where the animals out number the people. And the wild processes are stronger than the ones we humans have brought in with us. But over the years that I have lived here we have looked over our shoulder and all of the sudden we see a coal mine coming, a proposal for one for a coal fired power plant; for oil and gas drilling and exploration; for massive clear cutting and new road building up to the top or the mtns. For rampant sub-division, and in fact when they were proposing the gas development, it is called sour gas -it has a lot of sulfur, and has the possibility of a gas explosion, and I would be sitting out here in the middle of the wilderness, looking at bear tracks and would be killed by a poisonous yellow fog. Now none of this happened, but partly by blind luck more than by efforts by the people up here to stop it. The point is it i. a wild ecosystem, but it is full time job keeping it that way. It is one of the last and best in the country. We've got more bears per square mile up here, grizzly bears, than anywhere else in the lower 48. It is the only place. that we've got bears, and wolves, and cougars to this extent. And, you just can't take anything for granted any more. So, we have to figure out the question. you have asked about how to live together. We really have to come up with some answers. or we won't have it. And it involves talking in new ways. It involves something that brings us back to biodiversity which is that in the past science. has been very good and fragmenting thing.; at analyzing one by one. Making neat systems, pigeonholing everybody. Classifying and categorizing. People tend to do that. We have land here that all has square edges; it's property lines, or it's state or it's state or national park or national forest. But is all just one mosaic or wild lands here, with a hundred different owners. And we have to somehow -if we are going to manage for biological diversity -we have to stop seeing things in these fragmented terms. We fragment our vision of things the same way we fragment our habitats through development. 2:00:53
AC: You say that it is language -that we don't have the language.
DC: 2:00:58 I don't think we know how to talk about managing, restoring, or living with wholeness. We know how to run out and do a study on an elk population. We know how to go out and do a study of oil and gas development. We know how to go out and talk about the river system. But we don't know how to go out and talk about the interconnections of all of the things here. We don't know how to have the park talk to the forest service; talk to the state; talk to the private land owners. We are learning, and more than ever before these people are meeting, trying to get together; trying to manage for the Northfork, not for their private fiefdom, or turf, or territory. They are trying to do it as one big piece. 2:01:50 .........
**VG ambi: 2:04:00 ...river -2:06:19