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Our Vanishing Wild Life

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The preservation of animal and plant life, and of the general beauty of Nature, is one of the foremost duties of the men and women of to-day.

It is an imperative duty, because it must be performed at once, for otherwise it will be too late. Every possible means of preservation,—sentimental, educational and legislative,—must be employed.

The present warning issues with no uncertain sound, because this great battle for preservation and conservation cannot be won by gentle tones, nor by appeals to the aesthetic instincts of those who have no sense of beauty, or enjoyment of Nature.

It is necessary to sound a loud alarm, to present the facts in very strong language, backed up by irrefutable statistics and by photographs which tell no lies, to establish the law and enforce it if needs be with a bludgeon.

This book is such an alarm call. Its forceful pages remind me of the sounding of the great bells in the watch-towers of the cities of the Middle Ages which called the citizens to arms to protect their homes, their liberties and their happiness.

It is undeniable that the welfare and happiness of our own and of all future generations of Americans are at stake in this battle for the preservation of Nature against the selfishness, the ignorance, or the cruelty of her destroyers.

We no longer destroy great works of art. They are treasured, and regarded as of priceless value; but we have yet to attain the state of civilization where the destruction of a glorious work of Nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird, is regarded with equal abhorrence.

The whole earth is a poorer place to live in when a colony of exquisite egrets or birds of paradise is destroyed in order that the plumes may decorate the hat of some lady of fashion, and ultimately find their way into the rubbish heap.

The people of all the New England States are poorer when the ignorant whites, foreigners, or negroes of our southern states destroy the robins and other song birds of the North for a mess of pottage.

Travels through Europe, as well as over a large part of the North American continent, have convinced me that nowhere is Nature being destroyed so rapidly as in the United States.

Except within our conservation areas, an earthly paradise is being turned into an earthly hades; and it is not savages nor primitive men who are doing this, but men and women who boast of their civilization.

Air and water are polluted, rivers and streams serve as sewers and dumping grounds, forests are swept away and fishes are driven from the streams. Many birds are becoming extinct, and certain mammals are on the verge of extermination.

Vulgar advertisements hide the landscape, and in all that disfigures the wonderful heritage of the beauty of Nature to-day, we Americans are in the lead.

Fortunately the tide of destruction is ebbing, and the tide of conservation is coming in. Americans are practical. Like all other northern peoples, they love money and will sacrifice much for it, but they are also full of idealism, as well as of moral and spiritual energy.

The influence of the splendid body of Americans and Canadians who have turned their best forces of mind and language into literature and into political power for the conservation movement, is becoming stronger every day.

Yet we are far from the point where the momentum of conservation is strong enough to arrest and roll back the tide of destruction; and this is especially true with regard to our fast vanishing animal life.

The facts and figures set forth in this volume will astonish all those lovers of Nature and friends of the animal world who are living in a false or imaginary sense of security.


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