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By D.G. Martin D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

Phillip Manning and Andrea Reusing on Wednesday's Bookwatch

By D.G. Martin Posted June 5, 2012 at 11:00 am

Good news for book fans! Two authors, Phillip Manning and Andrea Reusing, will be featured this week on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch.

Manning and Reusing will appear Wednesday, June 6, on UNC-TV’s MX channel, which is available on Time-Warner Cable digital channels #172 or 4.4.

Phillip Manning’s “Islands of Hope: Lessons from North America’s Great Wildlife Sanctuaries,” first published by John F. Blair in 1999, is still in print. Manning’s Bookwatch interview airs Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. for the first time since 1999.

Manning traveled to ten different North American wildlife preserves to find out how successful they are–and what lessons can be learned from their efforts. How big does a preserve need to be? Once the preserve is established, should man simply let nature take its course? Or should there be enough intervention to be sure that “nature” doesn’t destroy the species we want to protect? Does a wildlife preserve have a responsibility to foster the preservation of other species and to promote biodiversity? How do preserves respond to changes outside their boundaries?

Lake Mattamuskeet in eastern North Carolina once served as a preserve primarily for Canada geese. But fewer geese come each year, and tundra swans have taken their places.

Why? The decline in geese is influenced by the new availability of grain on farms near the Chesapeake Bay–enticing the migrating geese to stop, and feed, and stay and forget about going further south to Mattamuskeet. Meanwhile, the swans have moved in to fill the vacancy–finding the lake and the surrounding farms to their liking.

What to do about the changes is a puzzle that neither Manning nor the managers at Mattamuskeet can solve for sure.

At the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Oregon, Manning found another dilemma. The land set aside for antelopes also contains a strong population of coyotes who feed on young antelopes. If the coyotes are unchecked, they might completely destroy the antelope population. But when the managers of the refuge began to kill some of the coyotes, groups of animal lovers protested and closed down the program.

How much should man intervene to protect one species by killing another? Manning leaves the question with the wildlife managers–where it remains unanswered. They just keep doing the best they can, imperfectly, but effectively.

Manning’s unanswered questions are part of his book’s appeal. He is patient with the people of good will who disagree about the best way to respond to man’s pressures on wildlife.

He quotes with approval the management principle of Dr. Sam Pearsall, who was director of science of the North Carolina chapter of The Nature Conservancy. It is called the “science of muddling through.”

“It says that the best decisions are made by people who operate on the information at hand to make decisions that seem to move them in the right direction and that foreclose as few options as possible.”

Pearsall’s skepticism of inflexible comprehensive solutions to the challenges of wildlife preservation and Manning’s tolerance of the competing ideas could be good lessons for our political leaders.

Also on Wednesday (at 11:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.) cable viewers have another chance to watch Lantern restaurant owner Andrea Reusing talk about “Cooking In the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes.”

About that book, Clyde Edgerton wrote, “… [I]f you sometimes feel (as in that old gospel tune ‘Drifting Too Far from the Shore’) that time and modern life have put space between you and good food, then Reusing’s book can flat take you back home. And if you like to cook, ‘Cooking in the Moment’ can change the color of your time in the kitchen from gray to rainbow.”

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