Both Irene Wallace (Mailbox, Sept. 21) and Betty Crowder (Mailbox, Aug. 3) have shared their observations and dismay over dwindling wildlife sightings. The growth of Humboldt's marijuana industry most certainly is the culprit. Land clearing in forest habitat reduces animal populations and species diversity.
The initial clearing is quite destructive, removing all the native vegetation, which also destroys native earthworms and harms the soil ecology. Small or slow animals who can't escape the onslaught are destroyed. Babies in the nest or den are also at risk.
Now picture this marijuana clear cut from an animal's point of view. The clear cut is located in the home range of a number of individual animals of various species. Their home range is where they find food, resting and denning sites, and mates. With the native vegetation, insects and rodents eliminated from this area, there is now a hole, a deficit, in their home range. To make up for this deficit, many of these animals will need to enlarge their home range. This has a ripple effect, as the surrounding area is already part of the home range of other animals. Larger home ranges mean that fewer animals can live in the same area.
This land clearing also degrades the surrounding forest habitat. It converts forest interior habitat to edge habitat, for a hundred meters, about the length of a football field, in every direction. This changes the quality of the habitat, making it unsuitable for many species. Some of the species depend on forest interior habitat are the Humboldt flying squirrel and the northern saw-whet owl.
Clearing forest land for marijuana cultivation is intrinsically harmful to wildlife. Humboldt's marijuana industry must shrink to be sustainable. For a more detailed exploration, please go to www.habitatforever.wordpress.com.
Amy Gustin, Ettersburg