What is Wild
March 15, 2018
I didn’t write this as an expert or as a representative of any organization. I did write it as an area resident who would like to meet others for informal discussions about what is wild.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I perceive as wild and where humans fit in that concept. When asked what “wild” means to her, Carol Havlik, retired game warden and law enforcement coordinator for Wyoming Game and Fish noted, “Wildness evokes the feeling I have when I’m in a place or see something that makes me comprehend how insignificant I am and yet how much a part of a bigger world I am.” That comment articulates two critical points: our insignificance and how we are a small part of a much larger whole.
In a long ago era I believe humans were an integral part of our planet’s “wild” landscape, living what I call a balanced “connectedness.” And yet that landscape could survive without human presence. But in this modern era many people seem to separate or disconnect humans from that wild landscape. They believe that the only wild exists without humans.
An important factor when considering “what is wild” is our ability to perceive and with that ability, to label that which is perceived. We “perceive” what we define as wild and therefore we “label” it as wild. So is it dependent on our ability to perceive it as such and therefore label it as such? Is that what makes it “wild”?
I believe that we all count in our differing perceptions of what is wild.
Follows are thoughts of others when I put the question to them: “What is Wild”
Additional comments from Carol Havlik: “Wild is and are all that is untamed by humans. Wildness evokes the feeling I have when I’m in a place or see something that makes me comprehend how insignificant I am and yet how much a part of a bigger world I am: Like standing all alone on a mountain top or alone in a vast expanse of open sage brush prairie. To me, wild is the fire within all things untamed. It’s the spirit that drives them to live on; the spirit that adapts things to the weather or the environment. It’s a tree growing in the crack of a boulder, it’s the chipmunk scurrying to gather nuts because there is no handout to help him through the winter, and it’s the flower seed that landed via wind, water or animal in a spot of soil with the moisture and sunshine it needed to bloom.
It’s the sound of an elk bugling on a crisp morning.
It’s the sound of sage grouse strutting.”
Tim Eicher, retired Special Agent with US Fish and Wildlife Service: “Sunrises, too many to name. The early morning aroma from an elk wallow in McKenna Park. The wind caressing my face while on the shores of Isle Royale. Wolves howling at night in the Thorofare. Ngorongoro Crater…gateway to the Serengeti. The Northern Lights above the Arctic Circle. Sitting quietly under the Giant Sequoias…close your eyes….Sunset on the Kalahari Desert.”
Katy Ng, retired respiratory therapist and physician’s assistant: “For me, wild, first and foremost, means as far removed as possible from all things man made. Or at least what feels far removed….The sound of silence, with the exception, perhaps, of the wind. Wind through an aspen grove. Seeing a night sky filled with stars, undimmed by any man made illumination. The undulating light show from an aurora borealis. Hearing the rattling bugle call of a sandhill crane right before first morning light. Watching a moose browsing in the willows across the Blackfoot from where I sit. A “bumper crop” of bear grass in the high country.”
Addrien Marx, retired business owner: “Wild is what grounds my soul, touches the poetry of my inner eternity and gives my life a deeper order of priorities. Wild is where I can stand on top of a mountain peak, view the vistas of an entire mountain range and feel that eternal security and quiet peace fill my spirit. Here, I never want to leave nature’s embrace. In the presence and solitude of such a powerful companion, I am whole. I walk along endless valleys clothed in light spring green or the diamond coats of white, seeking the smallest and always present common miracles. Wild is the crystals of calming song gleaming in the moonlight of a moonlit river. I am mesmerized by the tone, songs sung by birds or just the leaves talking through the windswept brush. Wild brings a sharp awareness with the snap of a twig in the silent darkness, as I lie beneath the stars intruding on the home of grizzlies and other beastly landlords. Wild teaches me to slow down and become one with all that is meant. Wild is when I am at my best.”
And my thoughts: My Karelian Bear Dog Arrow, when she finds a still bloody and partially cached rib cage from a dead thing and then wildly tracks the cat that killed it.
Hearing a bull elk bugle.
Watching a bald eagle fly from a carcass.
Finding golden eagle wing prints in snow near carcass parts.
Hearing a Barred Owl.
Finding bits of small dead things, result of a bald eagle’s banquet near a nest.
A mountain lion making kills within 200 feet of home.
Seeing that lion’s eye-shine about 100 feet away when I hit her face with the flashlight’s beam with Arrow going wildly nuts and barking non-stop; and for several nights afterwards thinking of her eye-shine every time I saw vehicle headlights.
Finding wolverine tracks in snow.
Arrow leading me to a cached deer carcass within a half-mile from home and finding adult and cub grizzly scat nearby.
Finding lynx tracks in snow.
Watching a pair of Trumpeter Swans take flight from a prairie pothole.
While barking wildly, Arrow wanting to give chase to a large bull moose (I told her I’d rather encounter a grizzly than a moose any day); and the next day Arrow and I encounter a grizzly bear sow with cubs near a service berry bush where Arrow had been eating berries (be careful what you wish for).