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Wildlife, Pets and Domestic Animals
The Food ChainJust about all animals are tasty meals for some other animals. That's what the food chain process is all about. We don't like to think about that part of nature and wildlife, but it's a reality. But when you think about this process more broadly, it's a very smart system -- a renewable food and energy source that replenishes itself, is self-regulating based on the amount of food and habitat available, and is a means of exchange that is constantly fresh. Yes, that sounds harsh -- but it makes us realize that we, too are part of that food chain.
We humans have learned to domesticate animals for our food sources. From eggs to milk and meat to fish -- we are very resourceful in how we grow and replenish our food supplies. While very few large animals prey on humans, we do have a lot of tiny predators called viruses and bacteria and invertebrates. Again, it's something to think about and be at peace about. We, too, are part of the miraculous food chain.
The Habitat's Web of LifeFood isn't limited to animal life. In fact, the largest biomass on the earth is found in plants. With the annual growth, shedding and decomposition of leaves, roots and wood, plants are the supermarket of the animal world. Most animals benefit in many ways from the habitat filled with plants, soil and rocks. But habitat also contains water, wind, temperature changes, and land form processes such as erosion, the tides and earthquakes. The complexity of the natural system is fascinating, diverse, self-regulating, and self-renewing. It is a system worth studying so that we can learn processes that enhance our own survival in this tumultuous life.
DogsDogs are some of our oldest allies. They have been domesticated for thousands of years and have learned to live comfortably alongside humans. Dogs are not used as food by many people, but they are used to assist with the food process. Sheep dogs help herd sheep. Hunting dogs help locate and retrieve wild game. Some dogs hunt snakes or rats or even cats and remove them from our working agricultural and farm operations. Dogs are certainly a kingpin of our domesticated animal population.
Outdoor Cats or Indoor?Cats are one of our newer domesticated animals. In fact, some people feel that cats aren't fully domesticated yet. All cats seem to retain their hunter instincts and when allowed to roam freely outside, are successful hunters of small birds, small rodents and even butterflies. The Humane Society encourages urban and suburban cat owners to keep their cats indoors. This protects endangered wildlife from predation and also protects the cats from dangers such as predators. diseases, and dangers of the road.
Endangered AnimalsWildlife of all sizes -- from tiny insects and mollusks to large bison and wildcats are in decline. The loss of habitat through construction and natural disasters makes survival difficult for many species. Some species are generalists and can adapt to new food sources, new shelter opportunities and new mating and nesting resources. But many species -- and the most vulnerable species are specialists. They have, through evolution, developed very specialized digestion systems, or mating rituals, or hunting skills. When their habitat is disrupted, their populations can quickly decline and they can become extinct within a short number of years. We are losing many species each year to habitat loss. It is becoming a tragic part of the earth's ecosystem and the impact cannot be comprehended. Sometimes restraint truly is the better part of valor!
Farm AnimalsWe think of farm animals as docile, even stupid, and certainly not connected to the wild world. But when you consider that insects and bacteria and viruses visit between the farm population and the wild population on a continuing basis, you realize that all animals are connected in the web of health -- or un-health in the animal kingdom. The current challenge with avian flu is one example. As bacteria and viruses migrate from species to species, they mutate and are able to survive in a wider variety of hosts.
Where They LiveAll animals benefit from clean, healthy environs, our farm animals included. Habitat is one of the systems that have the most to teach us about survival strategies in the natural world. In real estate the general concept of value is embedded in the slogan "location, location, location." In nature the essence of value is embedded in the slogan, "habitat, habitat, habitat." We all live in our shared habitat...and together we will survive and thrive...or cease.
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