National Geographic : 1956 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine High above us on an open slope we saw a small band of mule deer. They would lunge forward, belly-deep in snow, and after a few strenuous leaps stop to rest. Then they would plunge ahead a few more yards. The deer were panting with exhaustion when they reached the hard-packed footing of a snow cornice that overhung a cliff. Snow like mist blew continuously over the lip. Eagle, Deer in Air-Ground Combat Hardly had the deer paused to recuperate when a golden eagle swooped down. Taking advantage of the band's weariness and pre carious position, the powerful bird attacked, striking the animals with its wings and even raking their backs with its talons. These were adult deer, and the eagle actu ally was no match for them. But the bird was smart enough to try to frighten its prey into a panicky lunge that would send one or more hurtling over the cliff to the rocks below. The deer held together in a tight group, fending off attack by rising on their hind legs and flailing at the eagle with their forefeet. The battle, a type of air-ground combat rare in the animal world, continued until the bird gave up and soared off to find an easier meal. Had the deer been weak from starva tion, the eagle might have killed one or driven it over the edge to its doom. Valley Lured Naturalist Brothers Jackson Hole has always had the power to attract the two groups of living things that have most enriched our lives: interesting ani mals and interesting people. The valley, of course, lured naturalists long before we came to the region. Wildlife studies of the highest value have been made by the Murie brothers, Drs. Olaus and Adolph, who have loved this country for decades. They live across the Snake River from us in low-roofed cabins hidden among tall cotton woods. Olaus Murie, president of the Wilder ness Society, has surveyed problems of the Jackson Hole elk since he first came to the valley in 1927. His experience here laid the foundation for his book, The Elk of North America. Adolph has made notable studies of the Yellowstone coyote and Alaskan mammals. He wrote "Wildlife of Mount McKinley Na tional Park" for the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE of August, 1953. A wooden plaque at one corner of the fire place in Olaus Murie's cabin home bears an inscription epitomizing the incentives that have inspired the Muries: The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights, and shades; these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts. Only a stone's throw from us is the hand some log home of Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Laubin, decorated with Indian artifacts. Reg and Gladys are authorities on American In dian songs and dances. Recognizing their sincere interest, the Crows have adopted them into their tribe. At an outdoor theater with a view of the Tetons we have watched the Laubins and a group of Indians as they performed remark able dances for summer visitors. Another neighbor is "Hank" Crandall, a photographer who earned and holds the park concession. He built his own picturesque home studio on Ditch Creek, after home steading first on beautiful Jenny Lake. Dedicated to Wildlife and Recreation Much of the Jackson Hole-Teton Range country is now under Federal guardianship of one kind or another-national park, na tional forest, and wildlife refuge. The region is primarily dedicated, therefore, to conserva tional and recreational use. Ranching will continue on a limited scale to add a colorful way of life to valley attrac tions. But for as far ahead as the view can reach, this magnificent mountain world will serve pre-eminently the interests of protecting wildlife and of recreation. Land and wildlife management and recrea tion are tightly bound up with each other. It takes the wise use of land to produce and maintain wild-animal populations. It takes even wiser management to integrate the human element that cannot be divorced. We hope that our ecological work in the valley may contribute to the understanding of problems still to be resolved. There is assurance that adjustments, such as the maintenance of animal populations at levels where their natural range can support them, will be achieved. If so, the region will endlessly fulfill its promise as a place where city-weary Americans may literally re-create body and spirit in a land of rare splendor and rich resources in living things, including man himself.