Just this past week the world learned that a bird, once thought to be extinct, has miraculously come back from the dead. The Ivory-billed Woodpecker was rediscovered recently in Arkansas. The last reported sighting of this bird was more than 60 years ago, and the official news of its existence, released by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the Nature Conservancy, has given the media a positive story to report.
The point I’m making is that this bird may be considered insignificant by some, but it has generated much interest in the general public. The near resurrection of the woodpecker has sparked something in people that we all crave; a second chance, hope, perseverance and faith. Amazing what a simple animal sighting can do to raise that level of interest.
The woodpecker inspires me to approach a subject that’s currently in the media. Officials of Seneca County are debating the fate of the Seneca Army Depot. At one time this installation served an important military purpose. Now priorities and circumstances have changed, and the property is no longer needed for military use. The depot has been enclosed by a fence that kept a very small population of white deer within its boundaries. Over the past 60 years this white deer herd has increased in number and is now the largest, possibly only, herd of white deer in North America.
Officials are considering removing the fence and drastically reducing the acreage that currently sustains the white deer population. This action would most likely decimate the white deer because the majority would be assimilated into the brown deer herd that surrounds the depot. The white deer left in a smaller enclosure won’t have enough natural resources to sustain themselves. Eventually the white deer numbers would be down to an insignificant, barely noticeable number.
What the depot has right now is something no one else in the world has. Imagine folks in New Jersey traveling to Seneca County just to see these special animals. The potential for national media exposure and tourism is great, depending on how the product is marketed. And yes, the white deer herd is a product, like Finger Lakes open water and wine.
I’m sure the decision of what to do with the depot is a very difficult one to make. I believe that tourism in the Finger Lakes has a ways to go before its potential is realized, and the white deer can be an attraction of the future, rather than an afterthought in 60 years like the Ivory-billed Woodpecker nearly was. Seize this day and opportunity.