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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Of Wolves, Plastic and Responsibility

Saturday, I visited the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia (Warren County), NJ.  

It’s a lovely drive into the country and it was perfect weather.  There are 4 compounds for the 4 distinct wolf packs.  They do a couple of programs a day; the talks are given outside the compounds and are full of information about the much and, in my opinion undeservedly, maligned wolves.  The wolves are beautiful.

After the wolves, we visited a smaller compound for the smaller residents of the Preserve:  the bobcats and foxes.  I wasn't able to get a photo of the foxes; they didn't stay still long enough.  And, I thought my camera was in the camera bag, it wasn't, so I took these pix with my cell camera; not very good.

Did you know that regardless of anything about an individual fox’s appearance, if it has a white-tipped tail, it’s a red fox?  I didn’t know that and many, many years ago I had a red fox living with me.  I love red foxes.  For me they would be the ideal companion.   They’re an interesting combination of dog and cat behavior: intelligent, gregarious, playful, humorous.  I miss my Zo, my red.

I highly recommend at least one visit to the Preserve.  I expect I’ll go there from time to time.  Think about sponsoring an animal there.

Sunday, I had planned a mini-cleanup at a local park.  Along the lines of the Two Hands Project, I started a meetup group to cleanup small areas of plastic and other refuse.  Yes, local authorities are responsible for such things but they can’t keep up with it and, in these days of economic shortages, we as citizens and residents and the people who frequent these places can certainly do something to help.  Wherever I live, wherever I am, I can be responsible not only for not contributing to the mess but by cleaning up more than my own whenever I’m able.

When you visit the Two Hands Project web site, you see that they are primarily focused on plastic waste because of its enormous impact on the environment and wildlife.  I’m just as interested in trash in general.  I’ve been walking more recently and I’m always amazed at how piggish we humans can be; and unnecessarily so.  I’m sick of seeing cigarette butts, empty plastic water bottles, candy wrappers, empty chip bags everywhere.  We don’t teach our children well enough to pick up after themselves and we seem to think the world is our waste basket.

So, the park had had a cleanup the previous week.  The park is large.  Between the park and the Delaware River is a railroad track and open land.  I called the mayor and talked to him about the park.  The cleanup was on the park side of the fence, there was quite a lot of trash remaining on the railroad side of the fence.  The railroad owns the land between the park fence and the tracks.  DEP (Dept. of Environmental Protection) owns and is responsible for the land between the tracks and the river.  I felt comfortable do a small cleanup along the railroad side of the fence.

Because I hadn’t followed up at all well after I formed the meetup group, I didn’t expect anyone else to show up; I expected to do the cleanup alone and I did.   I brought a large pail, a couple of small trash bags and gloves.   I didn’t get to the railroad side of the fence though because somebody had left sufficient trash near the skateboard area to fill everything I’d brought with me:  beer cans, soda and water bottles, plastic/foil wrappers and some piece sport equipment (it's mine now) were left all over. Those plastic 6-pack straps are a real danger to wildlife of all kinds

After picking it all up:

6 partially empty beer cans
7 partially empty plastic soda and water bottles
1 plastic 6-pack strap
1 plastic half gallon juice bottle
a handful of plastic/foil wrappers and bags
and that blue thing

beer all over my gloves – lovely – I left it there and took a quick look on the other side of the fence, past the tracks, down toward the river.  It’s clear that people are going there, building campfires and leaving more trash.  I’ll let the mayor know but the idea is to pick up what you can, with your 2 hands, in half an hour.  The photos are what I found.  All of it could have, and should have, been taken away with whoever left it.  I brought it home, sorted and disposed of it.

Take a look at the Two Hands Project site, think about forming a group to do the same, or join ours.  And, just take the time when you’re out running or biking or picnicking and spend half an hour and pick up whatever you can and dispose of it properly.  Thank you.

Have a wonderful day.

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