Wildlife field trip

When we arrived in the morning, we met one of the teachers who would accompany us to a hunting facility in Brodnica. It was a surprise to see him dressed in head-to-toe camo! I didn’t know what to expect. Wildlife is managed very differently in Poland. Coming from Maine, and having spent a limited time in Texas, I have observed several major differences in hunting and wildlife management between those two places, but in Poland there is more history and different traditions and cultures.

In Poland, hunting and wildlife management is handled almost exclusively by private organizations. To get in, one must pass difficult exams. There are almost no women members. The organizations are financially responsible for damage to farmers’ crops, so there is a lot of interest in best management practices to reduce conflict. We visited a farmer’s field which has been secured with electric fence and hunters regularly stake the area out to shoot nuisance wildlife. There was a field in the nearby woods where the hunters grow cereal grains for the deer to eat, in hopes of keeping them out of the agricultural field. They also have feeding stations and areas where forage is cultivated for small animals. We heard the populations of certain species can rise and fall very dramatically with changes in wildlife policy. It was a reminder that humans wield a lot of control over the “natural” world, regardless of our location on the globe. In the context of the previous day’s debates, I see that differing opinions have equal roles to play in the constant struggle to balance human needs with sustainability and ecological health, in this case and in the bigger picture.DSC00473

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