"The Destruction of California"



Raymond Dasmann

His 1965 book "The Destruction of California" was a call to action that became a staple of university ecology courses in the 1970s.

Dasmann coined what he called the first law of the environment.

"No matter how bad you think things are," he often said, "the total reality is much worse."


California experienced "a massive faunal change,  matched only by the postglacial extinctions."

p. 48.

Randall Jarrell, who called Dasmann the Darwin of the ecological movement, said Dasmann insisted that ecologists learn from the indigenous peoples living in threatened environments.

California map

plenty as in these valleys ...." deer, elk and wild horses"       

p. 44.

Deer populations ebbed 1900s, rebounded in 1920s, an overpopulated the Sierras in 1930s

p. 52.


text two

p. 53.

"but doe shooting ran contrary to California tradition." 

             p. 53.

1949-1956, does were allowed and encouraged to be shot to control the population.

As a child he recalled:

text three

p. 43.

text four

p. 54.

text five

p. 57.

" for people can be enriched by the presence of wild creatures in man's environment."

p. 58.
The knowledge that wild nature still exists adds an essential dimension of freedom to an otherwise restricted life.

"a world with no space left for wild animals, …will prove to be a world with little space for human freedom."

book p. 58. The Destruction of California, 1965.
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