Jerry Bilik

Former Professor of Music University of Michigan

Arriving in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as an entering freshman at the University of Michigan in the fall of 1951, I was curious why the train from New York upon which I was riding was called “The Wolverine.” I soon discovered that this animal, the largest and most ferocious of the weasel family, was the official mascot of the University, based on its ability to survive and flourish in the harshest conditions and on its reputation for bringing down prey much larger than itself.

Of course it was no wonder that, unlike many other schools with mascots, the University of Michigan did not parade a captive wolverine around its immense football stadium (a venue with which I became quite familiar as the primary arranger of half-time shows for the Michigan Marching Band!). Nor did the University dress someone up to imitate a wolverine – it was too noble a creature for such buffoonery.

That is why it is so hard to believe that such a brave, powerful creature could in any way become threatened, but the march of civilization has already encroached upon the entire southern range of this animal, and the continuing loss of its habitat worldwide could ultimately lead to the wolverine’s extinction.

It is for this reason, and for the sake of all the creatures with whom we share our planet, that organizations dedicated to preserving the delicate balance of nature deserve our unflagging and enthusiastic support, and why we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, which stands as a first, and most important step in this critical cause.

It is my firm belief that caring for others – human and non-human – helps us to become more worthwhile inhabitants of this sphere we call home, and, by improving the quality of other lives, we improve the quality of our own.

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