Long Island Without Panthers
Long ago the natural habitat of Long Island was different. Long Island was mostly covered by forests, grasslands, wetlands and sand plains. It had a different landscape and wildlife . Then Long Island started to become settled. As it got more populated, the settlers would cut down trees, built homes, make roads. Soon, the forests began to disappear because lots of trees were being cut. Also, grasslands were being cleared to make room to build.
Before the settlers arrived, the native habitat allowed different wildlife to exist in Long Island, such as wolves, elks and large cats such as the panther. The open land, hills, trees, wetlands and grasslands gave them shelter from humans, and lots of space to roam. It was and ideal environment for them to exist. Panthers were able to hunt large prey such as deer and other small mammals and rodents.
So, why don’t we have panthers in Long Island anymore?
One reason is that the early settlers that arrived to Long Island hunted and trapped them because they thought that they would attack their livestock, and thought that they were dangerous creatures.
The next reason that the panthers are not here is that their natural habitat was being destroyed, changed, and the food chain was being affected for all wild life . For example, Panthers ate small animals such as porcupines, rodents and mammals. But since the habitat was changing , these smaller animals were leaving the area or dying because they too, didn’t have enough food or shelter.
Finally, another reason that the panther is not here is that another animal, the deer, which was the main prey for the panther, and their main food source , were also being affected by the changes in the habitat, and were being hunted by humans.
Since their food source was scarce and the habitat was changing, the panther was forced to migrate to other places.
Today Long Island faces a big problem with the deer population . Since the deer do not have that many predators, such as the panther, their numbers have increased to the point where they are too many, and it is causing a huge problem for us. The problem with deer is that they eat anything. They are changing the ecology of forests and causing problems for farms by destroying their crops.
Deer are destroying trees and seedlings, so in years to come there may not be certain species of plants and trees. If certain types of trees die, then the forests will change or maybe even disappear. If certain trees disappear, then certain types of animal species may also disappear. For example, some birds need underbrush to nest, other birds like the songbirds need low ground trees for nesting. Certain species of animals may need to feed from the fruits of a type of tree, and if the tree disappears then they can not feed themselves anymore. Also certain type of insects like certain types of plants or trees and they would be affected by this problem, so they would either die or be force to migrate elsewhere.
If this continues maybe entire species of animals, insects , plants, fruits and trees could disappear completely forever.
The future of our natural habitat and our food supply are in terrible danger!
I think it would have been difficult to have settled Long Island without decreasing the panther population. The settlers needed the land to plant crops and to raise farm animals . The wild life would have had to compete with domestic animals for food, and if they didn’t have a big enough food source they could have been a danger to humans. Although they usually do not attack humans, if they are hungry enough, panthers will attack.
I think what the settlers could have done is just to drive the panthers away far enough (to large areas that they were not being populated) so that they were not a danger to people. Then later they could have made a nature preserve for them.
That way some of the original habitat would have been preserved and the food chain would not have been affected so much.