Granted, therefore, that we have both National and State sentiment, and that National legislation by co-operation with the States, if properly understood, would receive popular support, the carrying out of this legislation and making it fully effective will be a difficult matter.
It can be done, and, in my judgment, by two measures. The first is entirely familiar to you: certain or all of the forest reserves must be made animal preserves; the forest rangers must be made game wardens, or special wardens must be appointed. This is not so difficult, because the necessary machinery is already at hand, and only requires adaptation to this new purpose. It can probably be carried through by patience and good judgment. Second, the matter of the preservation of the winter supply of food and protection of animals while enjoying this supply is the most difficult part of the whole problem, because it involves the acquisition of land which has already been taken up by settlers and which is not covered by the present forest reserve machinery, and which I fear in many instances will require new legislation.
Animals can change their habits during the summer, and have already done so; the wapiti, buffalo, and even the pronghorn have totally changed their normal ranges to avoid their new enemy; but in winter they are forced by the heavy snows and by hunger right down into the enemy’s country.
Thus we not only have the problem of making game preserves out of our forest reserves, but we have the additional problem of enlarging the area of forest reserves so as to provide for winter feeding. If this is not done all the protection which is afforded during the summer will be wholly futile. This condition does not prevail in the East, in Maine and in the Adirondacks, where the winter and summer ranges are practically similar. It is, therefore a new condition and a new problem.
Greater difficulties have been overcome, however, and I have no doubt that the members of this Club will be among the leaders in the movement. The whole country now applauds the development and preservation of the Yellowstone Park, which we owe largely to the initiative of Phillips, Grinnell, and Rogers. Grant and La Farge were pioneers in the New York Zoological Park movement. We know the work of Merriam and Wadsworth, and we always know the sympathies of our honored founder, member, and guest of this evening, Theodore Roosevelt.
What the Club can do is to spread information and thoroughly enlighten the people, who always act rightly when they understand.
It must not be put on the minutes of the history of America, a country which boasts of its popular education, that the Sequoia, a race 10,000,000 years old, sought its last refuge in the United States, with individual trees older than the entire history and civilization of Greece, that an appeal to the American people was unavailing, that the finest grove was cut up for lumber, fencing, shingles, and boxes! It must not be recorded that races of animals representing stocks 3,000,000 years of age, mostly developed on the American continent, were eliminated in the course of fifty years for hides and for food in a country abounding in sheep and cattle.