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Aldo Leopold, “Thinking Like a Mountain”

By John Halstead

[Snip] Aldo Leopold was trained as a forester and became the founder of the new field of wildlife management. As a young man, Leopold went to work for the Forest Service in Arizona and New Mexico. During his career Leopold created the first comprehensive management plan for the Grand Canyon and wrote the Forest Service’s first game and fish handbook.

At one point, Leopold was assigned to hunt and kill bears, wolves, and mountain lions in New Mexico, because these predators were a threat to local livestock. One such incident would come to change his life. He recounts coming upon a mother wolf he had shot:

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes — something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.

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