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Protect Wildlife Habitat 

Editor:

Everyone recognizes "homelessness" as one of Humboldt's most pressing issues. So why the quotes? Because there's an entire homelessness issue that's being swept under the duff, as it were, and exacerbated by short-term actions to deal with the other one. I'm talking about wildlife homelessness.

There's virtually nowhere left on earth unaffected by our species, one of millions. Many of the others are having a hard time adapting to that. Humboldt County's still in relatively good shape, which is why many of us choose to live here. It's also why some of those other species are still able to live here.

I read with dismay Rick French's contention that "the county needs to inventory what ... park land ... could be used to shelter" homeless people ("An Eclectic Mix," Feb. 13). No! That's not what it's for! Further, all over the county I see wildlife habitat, especially blackberry and willow thickets, being cleared to remove cover for homeless people, leaving bare, open spaces of little value as "home" to anyone or anything.

Most wildlife populations are in steep decline, with many facing eventual, if not imminent, extinction. For example, the number of birds in North America has declined by a third in recent decades. Habitat loss is one of the primary driving factors. With so little pristine habitat left, we need to be making our communities as wildlife-friendly as possible and keeping our preserved areas intact.

People say displaced wildlife can just move but what suitable habitat is left is already occupied at or above capacity, with wildlife being squeezed into shrinking spaces and facing increasing competition for dwindling resources. People also say homeless encampments degrade habitat. That's true but not to the extent that removing it altogether does.

Humans need homes but so does everything else. We need to remember that homelessness is not just a human problem.

Ken Burton, Arcata

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