Linda Lindsey-Stevens, a science teacher at the high school and leader of the Environmental Science Club, said one of the big reasons for Yasgur’s visit was to tell students why some animals are common and why others are rare.
Yasgur was also there to talk about the effects of pollution on the environment and on different animals, Stevens added.
“The main focus is going to be … kids that are interested in the environment,” Yasgur said before talking to the club. “You hear all this stuff on the news, about how this animal is getting to be rare, and this animal needs protection, this animal is an endangered species … Why are some animals in trouble and some animals aren’t?”
Yasgur talked about some of the different factors that affect various animals, including pollution, climate change, and deforestation, and brought up some relevant examples of each.
For example, white-tailed deer were extremely common in the area before iron mining took hold in the 1800s, which led to deforestation, and since deer feed on nuts and acorns, they lost much of their food supply and all but disappeared from the area for a time, she said.
Among other examples, Yasgur also brought up the case of sea turtle eggs along gulf coast islands that weren’t hatching. Once the red wolf population was reintroduced to that area, she said, the eggs started hatching again, since the wolves feed on raccoons, which eat sea turtle eggs.
Some animals become rare when they require a specific food, biome or shelter, some become rare when they have a bad reputation, such as wolves and snakes, and others become rare because they have a slow reproductive rate, such as polar bears and pandas, she said.
Yasgur brought to their classroom an opossum, a screech owl and a prairie king snake, the latter of which they were allowed to touch. Toward the end of the presentation, they snapped away with their cameras as Yasgur showed them the animals.
The Nature Station, Yasgur said, is basically an educational center about local wildlife, and it has local specimens as well. It is located in Land Between the Lakes.