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Wildlife quid-pro-quo: ‘Something to still think about’

The wildlife quid-pro-quo. It was a proposition advocated more than a half century ago by Willard D. Klimstra, then director of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Cooperative Wildlife Initiative.

Essentially, his theory was that since virtually all farmers and ranchers receive some sort of federal financial assistance, they have the responsibility to in turn defend and protect wildlife on their property.

For example, he advocated that with fences on farming and ranching property, mowing should not be permitted within a few feet on either side of the fences, to provide sanctuary for birds and small animals. And if farmers did not protect wildlife and provide fence sanctuaries, they could suffer severe monetary penalties.

In essence, Klimstra maintained ranchers and farmers should do everything in their power to provide safe havens on their lands for wolves, bears, deer, birds, etc. – you name it.

Ranchers and farmers did not embrace his proposition in the 1970s, and many still do not today.

True, such an idea imposes more effort and work for land owners already struggling in many instances to make ends meet. And in some cases farmers and ranchers already are compensated if their herds are harmed.

But more help and compensation are needed if wildlife – some of which are endangered with extinction – are to be protected.

So on behalf of all wildlife and humans who appreciate them, thank you, Dr. Klimstra, for giving us all something to still think about.

William Babcock of Durango is former senior international news editor for the Christian Science Monitor.