Governor Bullock has vetoed SB 334, which would have redefined furbearers as game animals in a ploy to seek protection under the right to hunt, rather than to trap, which is not covered by Mont. Const., Art. IX, §7.
Montana has been at the forefront of wildlife management policies and politics for decades. From shipping surplus elk across the nation in 1913 to the ‘wolf wars’ of the 2000’s, passion has always run high in the stakeholder groups that are served by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP). FWP has one of the better records for being responsive to public insight. While stillpredominantly associated with consumptive users and livestock growers, the state agency representatives have been willing to listen to many different participants in their management of Montana’s wildlife.
Governor Steve Bullock has shown that this pragmatic and broadranging acknowledgement of the diversity of stakeholders has reached the highest office.
Thank you for protecting Montana’s heritage and for preventing the circumvention of the democratic process that was seen in the resurrection of SB 334. Governor Bullock’s letter explaining his veto can be read here.
Congratulations to the people and groups that worked so hard to honor democracy and protect wildlife from the expansion of exploitative initiatives.
Brainwashing, indoctrination, simple human differences of opinion, we are not sure what the basis is of the wide range of perspectives about predator hunting. It seems somewhat suspicious that even people who promote the pseudo-management reasons for killing wolves, cougars, and bears find it necessary to justify their decision by the almost altruistic claim that they are ‘protecting’ another species. This might be acceptable if it were not true that predators and prey have evolved together for much longer than man’s footprints have left devastation on the land. This story is a little different…it almost insinuates the machismo of hunting large carnivores by drawing attention to the paradox of the very pretty female teen being the killer in this case. “this is man’s work, but she was able to do it like a man” is an affirmation of some sort although, what exactly, eludes us.
A more honest assessment of the story would have left out the moose calves (a natural food source for the bear) as a reason to kill him. It would have been simply a grandchild providing meat for her grandmother in the most natural human predatory manner-for indeed we are omnivores-just like the bear. Any other justification sounds like an excuse or the need to positively reinforce a behavior you are not quite sure about.
The decision of the New Mexico Game Commission to agendize the possibility of trapping mountain lions is a serious threat to the democratic process. We should all be concerned that a Bill to allow similar pressure on lions failed in the recent 60 day legislative session. New Mexico is not the first state this year to tweak processes to achieve a foregone conclusion to legislation introduced by special interests. Montana also showed that politics has the ability to resurrect legislation that has died a democratic death.
Zombie Politics should concern us all. It is a proxy for consumptive heavyweights to get what they want in spite of the rules of law, it is the slippery slope to regressive management. To allowtrapping of cougars in New Mexico is cruel, shortsighted and archaic. Random culling of large carnivores will not help ranchers to protect their livestock. Conflict prevention and non-lethal deterrents are the solutions for depredation. Widespread removal is a bandaid that just delays further predation. Why not solve the problem and protect the stock? And if extirpating the cougar from the landscape for the sake of producers is the objective….that is NOT for the Commission to decide. The Public Trust Doctrine allows the states to manage animals for ALL people. Too many states are forgetting that, and are succumbing to the misinformed notion that they can set regulation in sync with the desires of a minority.
The North American Brown Bear, ursus arctos–the grizzly. There are many names for this imposing, inspiring and iconic mammal, once proliferate across the continent, but now relegated to small islands of heavily invaded habitat in the Rocky Mountain West. And just as there are many names for the bear there are many perspectives about its value on the landscape.
The grizzly bear is a prime example of a creature defined by human beliefs, attitudes and values. If the perceptions that abound about grizzlies were each assigned a musical note, then we are in for a loud and discordant finale as the melody of recovery builds to the crescendo of the delisting process.
The story of the bear is a deeply embedded part of the cultures woven into our nation. Prior to human presence, the bear evolved as one of the most adaptable mammals on the landscape. Our earliest culture, that of the Native American, celebrated the bear, honoring his presence as an indication that they too could survive. The bears were treated with reverence and seen as a source of indefatigable power. Thus the spiritual significance of the grizzly to a people that have shared its path for eons cannot be underestimated.
Looking in from the outside, history illustrates the parallels between the way decision makers have treated both the bear and the indigenous people. Both once occupied broad swaths of the continent, both were regarded with fear, as threats to the immigrant white man and his interests, both were victims of widespread slaughter and both were eventually forced into arbitrary tracts of land to be preserved as artifacts of a bygone age. The eco-centric civilizations valued the bear not only for his physical body but also for his contribution to the rich lore that sustained them. The historical paradox extends to the fact that it was as late as the 1970’s that Indian Schools (the last was in Utah), which essentially whitewashed the richness of the native culture, were deemed redundant. No more cutting long lustrous Indian hair, no more cutting out the stories of animal totems and great spirits, no more cutting through the sensitive and beautiful belief systems that honored the earth and all who share it. The closure of the schools essentially marked the covert effort to ‘recover’ the right of the Native American to pursue and enjoy what little culture had been left to him, albeit on the islands of reservation land. It was also in the 1970’s that a partner emerged to walk the same path as the Indian…the Grizzly Bear!
Beaten back, exploited and victimized for the viewing pleasure of the mostly white traveling public, the great bear and the Indian conjointly received tacit approval to once again ‘be’ according to their nature and history. No longer a sideshow at garbage dumps, the bear, that icon of America, spanning the symbolic glitz of the California flag to the profound depth of native spirituality, would also be ‘recovered’. Just as the native sons and daughters of the Americas received a social reprieve that saw a reduction in ‘Wild West Shows’ and voyeuristic representation, so the native bear received a biological pardon. Science and not sociology would become the vehicle to transport the bear from near extirpation in the lower 48. There are many differences between science and sociology. With science, ironically, the human takes the credit for discovery of natural laws and the recovery of the bear illustrates how important that is as a definition of success. In a type of statistical absolution from the predominantly patrician scientific community, the bear has been declared ‘recovered’! Sociology also has a place in the picture of recovery, a place very similar to the Native American, a place of isolation. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has become the Elba of the grizzly bear. Yet socially the value of the bear to ‘everyman’ has been played down. Even though our American God is money (Hence the reference on our currency-‘in God we trust’, refers not to a deity but to the green paper on which it is printed) the millions and millions of dollars generated by the social excitement of the now predictably visible bears have been played down to be almost buried in the magna, recently discovered below the home of the bears themselves. No, the social context is firmly centered on the desire of the state governments of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to reward the consumptive users that have so patiently waited out the hard-knock moratorium on the opportunity to kill the bear for pleasure.
Science is often cited as a method devoid of emotion, or bias, but there can never be a non-emotional human activity. That is our nature in the same way that wildness is the nature of the bear, and spirituality and eco-symbolism predominate autochthonous cultures.
The Tribal representatives deserve to be part of the decision to declare the grizzly bear recovered. They know the bear’s story and have ‘walked ten miles in his shoes’ on the dangerous and intolerant journey that searches for an authentic place in the McCulture of America today.
California is a state which provides huge challenges to Mountain Lions in the form of rapid and seemingly endless human development that encroaches on habitat and fragments connectivity possibilities. However the people of California spoke up and limited the challenges from sport hunting (killing purely for recreation). The electorate realized that random culling of cougars was not a method of preventing conflict, just an opportunity for a minority to seek trophies in the form of rugs, wall hangings or mounts. This does not mean that mountain lions have free rein in California. The Department of Fish and Wildlife still has the discretion to ‘manage’ lionsthat may pose a threat to humans, pets or livestock. This proactive and responsive attitude has led to cultural changes where even the media seems to respect the ‘lack of a story’ that now comes with sightings. It seems that most Californians are taking practical co-existence in their stride-modifying their own behaviors and taking responsibility for minimizing the risks of negative encounters. The words that accompany this news release about a cougar sighting in North San Diego county are understated and do not incite panic even though the picture of the cruisers implies a little more adrenalin based reaction than usually comes out of California.