Humans and Wildlife: The New Imbalance

Jim Sterba, Author of Nature Wars

February 2015

By the late 19th century, North American forests and wildlife were in dire straits. For nearly 400 years, arriving Europeans had removed trees and killed off wild birds and animals to the point that a few enlightened leaders sounded the alarm, and the conservation movement was born. Three slow but remarkable transformations followed. Forests reclaimed huge swaths of abandoned cropland. Many threatened wildlife populations, restocked in refuges and protected, slowly grew back to health. Then, people moved out of cities after World War II, creating a mosaic of suburban, exurban and rural sprawl where family farms once thrived. Now, this new habitat is filled with people who want to “leave nature alone,” and many wildlife populations are proliferating out of balance. We have mounting community conflicts over what to do, or not to do, about deer, beavers, Canada Geese, and other species. Jim Sterba urges us, as the dominant player in our ecosystems, to overcome our reluctance and embrace our stewardship role.

Jim Sterba is an internationally recognized author and correspondent who has reported for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal for more than four decades. His book, Nature Wars, published in 2012, has earned critical acclaim and catapulted him into an important national conversation about wildlife management.