No question this post is a tidbit delayed, but the lessons to be learned from the loss of the Passenger Pigeon are numerous. We are a few months past the date marking one century since the complete extinction of one of the most numerous bird species to inhabit North America. I recently had the opportunity to visit the monument erected in memory of the passenger pigeon, namely when the last pigeon in Wisconsin was shot. The statement that was construed on this plaque, “…..this species became extinct through the avarice and thoughtlessness of man” could not be more relevant today. I can indeed speak to the truth of this in the state of Wisconsin. While I am not a native to this state, it is truly amazing how much passion people have here for conservation, and for the scholarship that supports this endeavor. However, sadly this is all being demolished in the current political climate. The legislature here is seemingly out to not only destroy the conservation heritage of Wisconsin, but also to destroy the resilience of the system to future recovery, namely the University of Wisconsin system and the Wisconsin Idea. Seeing this plaque located at Wyalusing State Park, with new and old life springing up to begin the new growing season, made me a bit sad and frustrated regarding this effort to destroy all that is special about Wisconsin. However, I was also left a bit more motivated. It need be emphasized that this threat of potentially irreversible damage goes well beyond this state, and indeed the nation for that matter. This plaque is a message for the masses.
While the Passenger Pigeon has been extinct for over a century, and will never again be seen on this earth, the message that endures from this loss is timeless, and urgently needs to be heeded. If you love to explore all that this world has to offer, whether it be culture, solitude, natural history, or whatever else, we have a duty as citizens of the world to acknowledge these lessons, otherwise we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes which this monument has been erected to remind us of.