Who Says There’s No Cooperation in Government

by Brad on November 27, 2011

Most days, I walk 3 or 4 miles somewhere in nature. It’s exercise, it’s quiet time, and it reconnects me with the mystery and unity of all life. One of my local favorites here on Cape Cod is the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge. It’s rather ordinary in some respects, but it’s also part of the original homeland of the earliest Americans here, the Wampanoag. Woodland trails follow a winding stream for a few miles, where I often see osprey, hawks, coyote and deer. 

Today was different. As I rounded a curve in the trail, the common rustle ahead of me revealed a surprise – a rather ample man in a bright orange vest, carrying a shotgun. I’ve never been quite sure what behavior “works” around hunters, but I stopped, said good morning, and noted my surprise that hunting might be allowed. He confirmed that it was, suggesting I see the sign when I returned to my car. In fact, there were many signs, all claiming shared dominion over this territory: National Wildlife Refuge, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Department of Conservation and Recreation, and a last indicating a local contact at a nearby national marine research reserve. Notably absent was a sign from the original claimants, the Wampanoag. 

It strikes me that this many government agencies could “cooperate” in the administration of this land. We rarely see that. On closer look however, let’s name the cooperation. We protect the wildlife here (the refuge part), so hunters have a near-guarantee there will be something to shoot. Hmmm. The cooperation is starting to sound like everyday politics, no? Good fortune came around the curve just after encountering the hunter. There, standing still in the trail right in front of me was a beautiful ring-necked pheasant. Needless to say, he flew immediately. But I feel as if I’d saved him, for the moment anyway, because it was I who saw him and not the hunter. After all, I was armed only with appreciative eyes and the GPS in my cell phone (in case I might ever be mistaken for a ring-necked pheasant). 

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