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There is a widespread opinion, that the Americans have seen a lot of different views and delights, and that is why they are indifferent about another’s beauty. But still it does not concern the sacred sea. “Even those of us, who was tired of american ecological evangelism of the last decade, and who had thought, that exaggerations and hyperboles could not surprise them, realized, that, nevertheless, we was seeking for the superlative degree adjectives in our past in an effort to describe Baikal only in a low voice” – wrote Esquire G. Davis. This confession induces us to examine the past and the current attitude of the US people to the nature.

The USA is a country, where one can find a lot of examples of a contradictory attitude to flora and fauna, like in any other state. On the one pole there are people, who love the nature infinitely and devote themselves to its cognition and glorification, on another pole there are individuals, whose lives were and are a reproach of the nature for their savageness towards flora and fauna. An american writer Ralph Emerson created a wonderful essay “Nature” and wrote: “I do not have a hatred, but love for the nature, and it is as ardent as a baby’s one. I’m growing, all my pores are living on this warm day. Like wheat or melon. Let’s give the nature its due. I’m not going to throw the stones to my wonderful mother or to soil my beautiful home. I just want to indicate the real place of the nature concerning a man, because the whole modern education is aimed at strengthening a man in its proper place. The nature is a base. To achieve this base, to establish the deep ties with it is a goal of the whole human life.

A compatriot, a contemporary and even a follower of Emerson, Henry Toro created a philosophical prose masterpiece of his time “Walden, or life in the woods”. In this book he also described the impressions, he had during two years of isolated life in a primitive cabin on the lakeside of Walden. Toro poeticized the human life among the virgin nature aesthetically and ethically. He showed its moral advantages against the background of the objective reality of a littered city quarters. To his mind a city is an antipode of the nature, the life is useless without. “If there were no forests and meadows around, there would be a damp in the city life. We need the wild nature as a source of cheerfulness. We desire to cognize, to examine everything, but we want everything to be impenetrable, we wish land and sea to be wild and immeasurable, because they cannot be measured. It is impossible to be satiated with the nature, we need bracing performances of its inexhaustible and titanic power… We need to see the strength, surpassing the one of ours and life, blooming where a man never sets foot”.

But the views of Toro and Emerson not always were agreed with, and not always they were supported by the entire nation. There were quite a lot of alternative actions. But the sharpen attention of the Americans to the ecological problems in the USA and in the whole world is not an accidental phenomenon. In fact, the continent of North America became the first large-scale area, where money thirst and timeserver psychology demonstrated their negative influence on the environment to the highest extent. Having discovered America, the Europeans of different nationalities saw the richest fauna, unprecedented variety of animals, birds and fish. There are a lot of evidences, proving it:

“It is a wild, but rich and abundant country.”

“The rivers are swarming with fish; the sky is clouded by wildfowl.”

The geese were not frightened by a shot. They came back to see why their friend had fallen.”

“The beaver dams are situated narrowly and go as far as one can see. The beavers do not fear people at all.”

“A hunter counted a thousand of species next to the saline.”

From the historical point of view, just a little time passed, but we have only the memoires of the former wild nature abundance in the continent. First of all it had an impact on the fauna’s fate.

The most oppressive example of the reckless and fanatic large mammal extirpation in the history is an extermination of millions of bison herds. Before the European settlers’ arrival, these animals had been the sovereigns of prairies, spreading out from Canada in the north to Texas in the south, from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Atlantic shore in the east. Then the quantity of the animals was no less than 60 millions. But 200 years later, only some hundreds left from the number, which is hard to imagine.

It was a real ecological catastrophe, which was as large-scale as the Siberian land had not ever experienced. Hundreds and thousands of the defenseless animals were being extirpated. Besides, quite often they did not use the whole carcass, but only the most valuable parts: liver, hump and tongue. Lots of meat and fells just left to putrefy in the mass plunder places. Gradually, the prairies was turning into a sheer cemetery, strew with the bones of the ruined animals to the skyline. Later the enterprising people came to the idea to collect the bones to make the fertilizers and the black point from them.

The destroyers of the hoofed mammal were guided not only bi the yearning for the easy prey, but also by the cool-blooded and cynical calculation from political and economical aspect. The war against the bisons was also the struggle against the Indians, standing up to the enemy. The colonizers exterminated the bisons, annihilating the prairies Indians, whose lives depended on these animals. Thus, the settlers doomed the Indians to starvation and death. The lands of the dead out and the extinct were passed into the white-skinned hands. But not only the cloven-hoofed animals became the victims of the numerous hunters. It was followed by the extermination of other animals, which were protected by the natives. Shooting of birds and beasts was stimulated by the yearning to be reputed as a terror of animals, by a hunter’s excitement, by a wish to raise the social status. Another shocking example: a certain Jacques Schwarz exterminated 140 pumas, 109 wolves, 17 american black bears, 98 deer, 111 bison, 12 wolverines, 500 beavers and other fur-bearing animals only in 1760! Alone! But how many “schwarzes” there were at those cruel times!

Then, general Sheridan, who is famous for his perfidy and inhumanity, affirmed with cynical directness: “ In order to solve the Indian problem the hunters did much more, than the whole army had been doing for 30 years.”

One can say, that the mopping up of North America from the Indians, the bisons, which fed the natives and from the forest, which was considered to be a friend of the aboriginals, was the main task of the pioneers, which they carried out with a real American enterprise.

In 1703 the Legislative Assembly of New England instituted prizes of 40 pounds for an Indian scalp and a red-skinned captive. In 1720 the prize for the scalp was raised to 100 pounds. In 1799, after the one on the Indian tribes had been recognized as a rebel one, the following prices were charged:

  • A scalp of a man from 12 years upwards – 100 pounds;

  • A male captive – 105 pounds;

  • A scalp of a woman or a child – 50 pounds;

  • A female or a child captive – 55 pounds.

The British Parliament declared, that the dogs, trained for people hunting and scalping were “means, granted by the God and the Nature”.

This cruel disposition of the American pioneers is worth talking about even because it contrasts a lot with the order, established by the Russians in Siberia. After the skirmishes among the Cossack pioneers and the aboriginals in the second middle of XVII century, the tsar authorities issued a statute “ A