Halpin: A modest proposal for the high alpine (letter)
As lifelong advocates for the sanctity of the wilderness, we seriously reviewed John Smith’s recommendation that dogs be leashed on hikes in the high alpine environment (Jan. 29, Summit Daily News) but were disappointed that his rationale was not extrapolated to its logical and necessary conclusion.
Considering the fragility of tundra flora and small mammal psyches, it is obvious that canid pawprints and explorations have some precedents set by the more adept predatory skills of their wild cousins, as well as felines. These beasts exert evolutionary pressure and adaptive behaviors among the wilderness denizens. Juvenile humans, however, are more uncontrollable and louder than most domestic canines, leaving larger impacts than doggies as they tromp the wildflowers and traumatize small mammals with their screeching. The mountain rodents’ only familiarity with intrusive little humanoids would be very occasional encounters with rare Sasquatch offspring; therefore, pika and marmot susceptibility to life-attenuating PTSD is heightened by their lack of experience with this type of disturbance.
Regretfully, we propose that children should be leashed on the trail, if not banned from wilderness excursions. Even well-intentioned kids terrify the critters with their rock-throwing and playful antics. This principle was recently demonstrated at City Market, where a 7-8 year-old girl careened down the aisles and off of other shoppers while shrieking gleefully at maximum volume. Her yuppie mom exerted no modulating influence and willfully ignored the despairing folks in close proximity. Unfortunately, John Smith was not there to “educate” mom on proper parenting in public places.
Lacking knives and guns, small mammals psychically injured by human youngsters have no recourse but starvation and, thus, would volitionally suspend their survival preparations. Likewise, the tender plants squashed by privileged tootsies could not recover during the alpine growing season. Thus, it must be concluded that protection of the ecosystem, as well as kids’ safety and karmic inheritance, mandates physical restraint and perhaps even muzzles for children who are allowed to venture on wilderness trails.
Jim and Annie Halpin
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