It’s easy to focus too much on negative changes to our natural world, be it increasing urban sprawl, threats from invasive exotic species or natural disasters like flooding and ice storms. Thanksgiving is the time to reflect on some of the many positives that we may take for granted and fail to appreciate as we should. Here’s a list of a few natural resource facts that I appreciate at this Thanksgiving:
- We had beautiful fall foliage in Missouri this year and most of what fell in my yard have been raked up.
- Thus far this fall, successful firearms hunters have harvested 189,000 deer and archery hunters have taken 41,000.
- Those pesky Asian ladybugs have found their overwintering spots and no longer congregate near my front door.
- Fall firearms turkey hunters took 8,350 turkeys, and one of those was mine.
- There are 18,000, mostly young, Missourians who successfully completed their hunter-education training this year. Annual hunting accidents have declined from more than 50 per year in the 1960s to only 15 in 2008, of which none were fatal.
- The Conservation Commission recently selected the Department’s eighth director since the agency was created through an initiative petition drive in 1936. Seven directors in the past 74 years is a model of stability for a state agency.
- More than 500,000 Missourians receive a free annual subscription to the Missouri Conservationist magazine, and most share an appreciation of our fish, forest and wildlife resources.
- Our nation’s symbol, the bald eagle, has made steady progress in recent years, after elimination as a nesting species in Missouri by the early 1900s. Around 150 pairs nested in Missouri this year and that number has been doubling about every five years. There are around 2,500 bald eagles in the state each winter.
- I can now explore local conservation areas without bug spray or sunscreen.
This is a small sampling of some reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving. I’m sure that you can make your own additions to the list. Let’s spend at least one day appreciating what we have, especially this bird which we are about to receive. Best wishes for your holiday festivities!