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Nature is Not Always Nice

800px-largecroc.jpgIf you’ve seen the trailers on TV for the movie, “Primeval,” you might know by now that the “serial killer” they are talking about is a crocodile that goes by the name of Gustave. National Geographic wrote about the croc in March 2005, and tried to sort out the myth from the facts. The crocodile was reputed to be 20 feet long, wily, and was suspected of killing hundreds of people along the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Africa.

It’s easy for those of us who live in urban places, where most of nature is something tucked safely into a park, and the wild animals are behind bars, to harbor romantic notions about the beauty of nature, and forget about all that “red in tooth and claw” stuff. But every so often we’re reminded. Filmmaker Werner Herzog explored that theme in his film “Grizzly Man.” The recent death of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, killed by a stingray, also showed that even animals that aren’t aggressive can be dangerous. When we’re out there exploring nature, things can go wrong.

In Idaho, the governor and others are rallying to allow hunters to shoot wolves. Now that might be easier to understand if the wolves were a real threat to people. We might love wolves in theory, but picture one in your backyard, and you might feel differently. But the wolves in Idaho are mainly a threat to the lucrative big-game hunting business… or at least, they are perceived to be. That makes the rallying cry to hunt the wolves down a bit more dicey.

For much of human history, nature was perceived as the enemy, a source of death and destruction, though its beauty was not overlooked. It was only as we became more urbanized, more comfortable, safer, that we began to forget about all that viciousness, and appreciate only its beautiful and serene aspects. So when you go off to visit Nature, remember, it’s not a theme park… it’s a glimpse of the primeval.