Title Thumbnail

Mammals of Mount McKinley National Park

281 pages
Library of Alexandria
The national park idea represents a far-reaching cultural achievement, for here we raise our thoughts above the average, and enter a sphere in which the intangible values of the human heart and spirit take precedence. Mingled with the landscape of McKinley Park is the spirit of the primeval. The region is dedicated to the preservation of wilderness. Here we try to refrain from the coarser uses of nature legitimate elsewhere. All the plants and animals enjoy a natural and normal life without human restrictions. Freedom prevails—the foxes are free to dig burrows where they will; to hunt ptarmigan, ground squirrels and mice as the spirit moves; and they share in the ownership of the blueberry and crowberry patches. The grizzlies wander over their ancestral home unmolested; dig roots and ground squirrels, graze grass, and harvest berries according to whatever menu appeals to them. The “bad” wolf seeks an honest living as of yore; he is a respected citizen, morally on a par with everyone else. His hunting of mice, ground squirrels, caribou and Dall sheep is his way of life and he has the freedom to follow it. No species of plant is favored above the rest, and they grow together, quietly competing, or living in adjusted composure. Our task is to perpetuate this freedom and purity of nature, this ebb and flow of life—first, by insuring ample park boundaries so that the region is large enough to maintain the natural relationships, and secondly, to hold man’s intrusions to the minimum. Most of us feel with Thoreau that “The wilderness is near as well as dear to every man.” We come to McKinley to watch; to catch a glimpse of the primeval. We come close to the tundra flowers, the lichens, and the animal life. Each of us will take some inspiration home; a touch of the tundra will enter our lives—and, deep inside, make of us all poets and kindred spirits. Our national parks, here in the north, are set aside, not only for Alaskans, or for Americans, but for all humanity. To preserve the delicate charm and the wildness of the region our thoughts must be guided by a morality encompassing the spiritual welfare of the universe.