In a recent post, I wrote about the role of raptors and other predators. The animals that predators prey upon are also of very important for a healthy ecosystem. It’s also worth pointing out that predators can also be (and often are) prey themselves.
In that prior post, I referred to the now classic case of ecosystem failure caused through over-hunting predators on the Kaibab Plateau in Arizona. The deer, freed from predation by their natural predators, soon over-populated the area and over-grazed the land. Their impact led to an ecosystem that could support fewer of both prey and predators. So having a balance is important, and human intervention can often lead to tragic consequences.
Therefore, when I run into the remains of various animals on the trail, I am less dismayed at the fallen animal than I am grateful for their existence and what they contributed to a healthy ecosystem. We need prey. We need predators. We need predators to also, in most cases, be prey as well. It may be that we are the first predator and prey that has largely escaped one of these roles, except, it must be pointed out, from ourselves.
In the end, humans are the most deadly predator of them all.