More than half a century ago Aldo Leopold wrote of learning to think like a mountain. He claimed that this was essential to behaving ecologically. But how does a mountain think? Leopold provides one significant clue. He relates the story of seeing the dying “green fire” in the eyes of a wolf mother he shot. He tells us that a mountain must live in fear of its deer herd, for without predators the deer will eat her bare and the rains will strip her of soil.
Let’s follow Leopold’s trail and see where it takes us. His wolf story reminds me of another my friend tells about Yellowstone National Park: when wolves were reintroduced, they lowered the temperature of the water in many of the streams and rivers. How could this be?
In the absence of large predators, ungulates (elk, moose, deer etc.) were unafraid and spent most of their days lolling More