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Design: Rick Swan Editing: Elizabeth Danforth Black and White Art: Terry Dykstra Color Art: Julie ... - page 137 / 157

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A dutiful ranger looks after the interests of the wildlife in his territory. He tracks down poachers and unprincipled hunters, relocates creatures that have been displaced by natural disasters, and cares for young animals whose parents have been killed. He notes fluctuations in animal populations and tries to determine if an excess of predators (or prey) is only a temporary adjustment to current conditions, or if it foreshadows a more serious problem. A sudden drop in the number of songbirds or frogs, for instance, may indicate that the insects they eat have been poisoned by some outside source.

A ranger is dedicated to the preservation of his environment. He uses timber, water, and other natural resources judiciously and encourages others to do the same. If he cuts a tree, he replaces it with a new seedling. If he raises herd animals, he keeps them moving so as not to overgraze a pasture. If he farms, he rotates his crops so as not to exhaust the soil, replacing the nutrients with natural fertilizers.

Unfortunately, the ranger must continually struggle against the carelessness and greed of those who don't share his concerns. They strip the land of timber and minerals, and level entire forests to build new cities. For commerce or sport, they hunt scarce species to extinction. They relentlessly farm the same acreage until the soil can no longer support crops, and dump raw sewage and other waste products into lakes and rivers until the water is no longer fit to drink.

The ranger employs several methods to counter this selfishness and indifference. He educates travelers passing through his territory, demonstrating the importance of proper waste disposal and the danger of smoldering camp fires. He negotiates with local villages to regulate mining and farming, and to set aside virgin forests and jungles as protected sanctuaries. In extreme situations, a ranger may resort to guerilla tactics, such as sabotaging oppressive and ruinous activities.

A ranger must also be constantly vigilant for natural disasters. As prevention is the key to effective disaster management, a ranger remains alert for the earliest signs of trouble, taking immediate steps to intervene before the problem becomes a full-blown catastrophe.

Here are some the most common natural disasters a ranger might have to face: Infestations of beetles, locusts, aphids, and other insects can strip forests and pastures in a matter of days or weeks. Molds and rusts can ravage woodlands if unchecked. Old trees, which aren't as resistant to disease as younger ones, are particularly vulnerable. To prevent the spread of destructive insects and fungi, rangers remove and dispose of infested plants as quickly as possible.

An excess of precipitation, sudden snowmelt, or high winds producing strong coastal waves may result in flooding. Floods can wash away valuable topsoil, destroy trees and buildings, and drown the unprepared. Rangers reduce the severity of river flooding by planting and maintaining the trees and grasses in elevated lands. This vegetation controls runoff and absorbs melted snow, preventing it from running off into rivers and causing the water to rise over the embankments. Ambitious rangers with leadership skills will sometimes coordinate the local population to assist him building levees to contain rivers prone to flooding. This must be handled with care, as such rivers

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