“I think I need to find a bigger place,
Because when you have more than you think,
You need more space.
Society, you’re a crazy breed,
I hope you’re not lonely without me.”
– Eddie Vedder, Society.
As our Alaskan adventure begins on Kodiak Island, my thoughts can’t help but wander whilst trekking through the wilderness. Although the island is quite large in size (bigger than Connecticut), its population is only 13,000. For every human on the island there are probably at least a hundred animals. Everywhere you look you’re surrounded by nature. It’s a surreal experience. As we continue to get up close to this wildlife, there’s a deep, connected feeling that seems to be taking root within me. Standing 5 feet from a grizzly bear that could easily maul you can really give you some perspective.
Our guide told us that the bears in this area know that the humans cannot hunt them, so they don’t feel threatened by us and we shouldn’t be afraid. To many this may seem to be a crazy idea- how can you possibly think that a bear wouldn’t go after you that close?! The important thing is understanding how the animal works, and to be respectful of their inherent instincts. There have only been two human deaths by bears on the island, and both were due to carelessness. This made me think that we are far better living as one with nature rather than going against it, as we often do.
As we walked in bear country, I couldn’t help but notice piles of trash that had washed up on the shore. Whether it was a boat buoy, beer bottles, or a tire, there were hundreds of pieces of pollutants in one of the most seemingly untouched areas of land. As the bears around us went to take a drink at the riverside, one of the cubs found a large piece of rubber. Like a dog to a toy, it quickly snagged it up and started chewing. A part of me felt so sad that such a beautiful, wild animal could potentially be harmed by a piece of trash that someone was too careless to throw away or recycle
Throughout our travels we have been lucky to see such amazing wildlife and breathtaking scenery, and many of them seem to be plagued by pollution and human interference. As our society continues to endlessly consume and throw away materials dangerous to the environment, where will we be in the next 20 years? I worry that I won’t be able to take my kids places where humans haven’t harmed the natural ecosystem.
This may seem like a soapbox rant, but I think it’s important that we think about our actions and how they affect the world around us. It’s easy to think about how what we say and do will affect other people, but there’s a bigger picture that can easily be overlooked. So next time you see a piece of trash on the ground, try picking it up and throwing it away. You might be saving an animal or simply making your surroundings a little more natural.