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Wildlife Less Life

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1995

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

born. Death plays a pivotal balancing role in the drama of life.

There are three necessary components of every ecosystem: producers, consumers and decomposers. One part cannot exist without the others. Decomposers cannot process and recycle the materials of life until the natural agents of death have taken their toll. Nevertheless, some deny the third segment of life's cycle.

Many people today isolate themselves from the realities of nature. They want to live in a sanitized environment. They want to hide all evidence of mortality from their sight.

It is difficult to imagine how this is possible. It is likely that the grandparents and great grandparents of many of these people hunted squirrels, skinned rabbits and butchered their own hogs.

But, people in different generations perceive things differently, and today's generations are distantly removed from the farm.

Natural Curiosity of Children

Interestingly, the sight of a dead animal does not usually repel or disgust children. Unless or until they have been taught to groan, shudder or cringe at such a sight, they are attracted to and fascinated by a dead or even a decaying animal carcass.

Youngsters ask many questions about what they see under such circumstances. They seem to sense that something important has happened.

Observing the way children react to death can be instructive to adults, if they are open minded enough to learn from children. Kids eagerly examine bones that they find and get excited over skulls and teeth. They want to touch the fur or the feathers of the dead animal. They want to exa mine the feet. Many youngsters speculate or ask questions about what killed the animal. This is not morbid curiosity. It is just curiosity.

Young children - those under the age of 5 or 6 - do not really comprehend what it means for something to be dead. About all they can do is observe that lifeless things do not react or move anymore. Most children between the ages of 6 and 10 seem to grasp the meaning of death. Yet, they still retain a somewhat matter-of-fact acceptance of it.

This is not to say that any child would not or should not be profoundly upset at the death of a pet. That would be a sad and painful thing for a child to accept. But there is a difference between a pet and a wild animal - and it is a difference that it is important for children and adults to

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