Storytelling at its best.

 

“Heart of a Lion” by Will Stolzenburg

The value of storytelling can never be underestimated. Stories are the purveyors of history,  vehicles by which facts are disseminated, and the wings that let imagination soar.

Our earliest communication, whether as a culture or as individual human babies, comes through the magic of stories. We learn of feats and failures, adoration and abhorrence,  winning and losing, right and wrong, hope and despair. Our minds attend the lessons of a well taught tale, and this tale  has all these elements. “Heart of a Lion” is the compellingly told story of a young male mountain lion, that left South Dakota in search of his own territory, commonplace for dispersing adolescents. Yet, his story will inspire you and leave you in awe of the tenacity of the natural world because this lion traveled over 1500 miles, through some of the most developed areas of the north east in search of a home, food, and love . In the same way that sagas, both ancient and modern, plot out the lives of incredible humans, so “Heart of a Lion”, by author William Stolzenburg, skillfully plots out the life of an incredible animal. Marginally unchanged in biology, from when it shared the earth with nothing but wildlife, the mountain lion has traveled through the tunnel of time, and the dark days of persecution, to emerge, singularly whole, spectacularly unique, and determined to etch out a place, not only in the wildness of our landscapes, but also in our hearts. Will’s incredible storytelling will make you care deeply about a valiant lion, who like Odysseus, would find his home only through his wandering…

You can find “Heart of a Lion” on Will’s website. It is a story that had to be told and like all classics, one which we should retell over and over again.

http://willstolzenburg.com/

Thank you Greater Yellowstone Coalition!

Thank you to Carolyn Byrd and her staff for directly addressing the disturbing downward trend that will result from state management of the grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/opinions/guest_columnists/can-we-live-with-grizzly-bears/article_799688ba-e3d8-51c8-8e30-f9436d90c170.html

Grizzly delisting gets attention from Politicians, Scientists and Celebrities

As the decision to delist grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem enters its final stages many people are weighing in on the premature rush to release the care and protection of the bears to states with a historical mandate to provide the recreational opportunity to kill them for sport.

These two letters show clearly that the doubts about relegating the great bear to trophy game status not only run deep but are heard in the highest places in the land.

http://democrats-naturalresources.house.gov/imo/media/doc/June%207%20Grijalva%20Letter%20to%20FWS%20Director%20Ashe%20on%20Grizzly%20Delisting.pdf

http://www.outsideonline.com/2088271/grizzly-letter-obama

Excellent review of the Public Trust Doctrine and how it is being violated

We would like to share this enlightening view of the Public Trust Doctrine as seen through the lens of the decisions being made by the Florida Wildlife Agency Commissioners. This is a long read but a ‘must see’ if you are at all concerned that your interests as a member of  the Public, are being ignored by those entrusted with our wildlife.

http://www.dailykumquat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Taking-the-Trust-Text-Only.pdf

Trust faces a new challenge

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The AP headline on the recent controversy

Advocacy is often based on promoting the values that are seldom addressed in the structure, politics and administration of state wildlife management today. Objectives are built on the need for management practices that better represent a broader constituency. State agencies have long enjoyed the luxury of unilateral funding and the subsequent primary self identification as facilitators of hunting.

The story accompanying this tells the tale of an almost unbelievable error on the part of an agency that had recently come under scrutiny for requesting extensive helicopter access into a wilderness area. Several large groups filed objections to the Forest Service when the access was first applied for. The groups not only objected to motorized travel in wilderness but were also suspicious of the intentions of IGFD with regards to wolves. The Forest Service did not give permission for wolf research.

Obviously a very serious mistake was made. You can see this from the string of articles cataloguing the initial objections, the consequent litigation and then the admission by IGFD of mistakenly collaring wolves during an elk collaring exercise.

 

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IDFG’s official press release

 

There is no doubt that we ALL make mistakes, but what is most troublesome about this story is whether IDFG deliberately ignored the limited permission they had been granted to collar elk. There is no doubt that there is passionate anti-wolf sentiment in Idaho which places IDFG in the unenviable position of being attacked from all sides. There is never a good reason to engineer deception and disrespect for any constituents, whether a Federal Agency, an environmental advocacy organization or the employees who were not adequately briefed about the scope of their responsibilities.

It seems from following the thread of the tale that IDFG were, in fact, the first to admit to the error, which the Forest Service is then mandated to investigate. At a time when IDFG and the Forest Service are being challenged and closely scrutinized it would be mind-bogglingly arrogant for an agency to make a deliberate miscalculation of this magnitude.

 

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The initial source of controversy

 

We actually want to trust those who have been given the authority to be decision makers over our wildlife and our wild lands. We want to build relationships where we are recognized as participants and not antagonists. We want to be able to contribute to funding and become part of a binary system of wildlife administration.

Just as large carnivores are often keystone species, so trust is the keystone of integrity and respect. Incidents like this are not just embarrassing, they are much more serious than that. They open the door to doubt and suspicion. Grizzly bear management will probably soon be transferred to Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, just as wolf management was several years ago. Many eyes will be upon these three states, so firmly rooted in the heritage of recreational killing of large carnivores and omnivores.

There has never been a time when trust is more important or more easily fragmented than now.

 


The articles whose titles are featured in this post can be found here:

USFS Officials Scrutinize Suspicious Wolf Collaring

Mistake Made During Idaho Fish and Game’s Elk-Collaring Project in Wilderness

Groups Sue to Stop Helicopter Landings in Idaho Wilderness

 

 

Will the public think Yellowstone is safer if this bear is killed?

Agonizing, there is no other word to describe the decisions that must be made at the highest level in Yellowstone National Park. Authorities are doing everything they can to be sure they correctly identify the bear that killed a hiker. Superintendent Dan Wenk has already said the female grizzly trapped in the area where Lance Crosby’s body was found will be euthanized if there is irrefutable evidence that she is the culprit. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Mr. Crosby and also to the dedicated park staff who responded to the scene and must now investigate and make those hard decisions. There are so many layers of consideration-it is never simple. However, there is one question that we would like to be part of the deliberations and that is for the authorities to think very deeply about what they hope to achieve as far as public perception if they decide to kill the bear and her cubs. Will removing the bear actually make people who recreate in Yellowstone National Park safer?  There is a frightening possibility that killing this female will simply give visitors a false sense of security that the ‘man-eating’ grizzly is gone. This could lead to complacency where visitors or seasonal employees may not follow the recommendations to carry bear spray, hike in groups and be vigilant for the creatures that live there. Yellowstone National Park-indeed the whole Yellowstone Ecosystem-is now home to many hundreds of grizzly where can u buy valtrex bears. They are large, powerful and supremely protective animals and any or every one of them has the capacity to make an encounter fatal to a human, especially if the human is unfamiliar or unwilling to take standard precautions.. Is there a way that Superintendent Wenk and his staff, together with the interagency team that is responsible for grizzly bears, can either spare the bear involved in the death of Mr Crosby, or ensure that the message gets out that Yellowstone is still not a place to take lightly if they do remove this specific animal? Fear can be a great motivator, it can also be numbing and allow people to ignore what is presented to them. Every park trail in Yellowstone and Grand Teton and many area forests has a “Bear Attack” sign warning people of precautions such as bear spray and group hiking before they set off on the trail. Would it make a difference to add that there HAVE been deaths in the ecosystem and the bears involved remain there? This is harsh, but it is reality. We must regard every large carnivore as having the capacity to kill if we, as humans, behave in ways that defy normal preventative expectations, even though it is an extraordinarily rare occurrence

-this is the only attitude that will keep us and them as safe as possible as we share our ever decreasing wild environment. http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/08/us/yellowstone-grizzly-bear-attack-hiker-dead-feat/index.html

Wyoming Game and Fish Commission Meeting in Cody July 2015

It is always a learning experience to attend the public meetings of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and of their ruling body, the Commissioners. The meeting in Cody was important for The Cougar Fund from several perspectives-scientific, social and political. There were two main topics of interest for us. The report from biologist Zach Turnbull about the challenges he and his crew face as far as mitigating, forensically analyzing and confirming depredations of livestock by large native predators, and the decision, which we will concentrate on here, about Chapter Four Trapping Reform that we have been following closely in support of Wyoming Untrapped.

The recent modifications to Wyoming’s Trapping regulation give us pause to reflect on a consideration that is NEVER addressed by wildlife managers. Trapping is brutal. There is no ’nice’ face to put on the practice of snaring, confining or catching an animal in a vice, noose or cage. These small animals are then left for hours, even days, with no food or water at the mercy of the elements. The suffering endured comes to an end by bludgeoning, drowning or other violent means. The ironies surrounding trapping are truly astonishing: It is a commercial activity yet the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation states as one of its seven principles ‘the prohibition on commerce of dead wildlife’: It is widely recognized that trapping is favored by a predominantly conservative demographic. Consider then that the major markets from which trappers profit are in fact the communist regimes in Russia and Asia whose ideologies would seek to destroy the conservatism that is so willingly outfitting their armies with warm winter clothing! The primitive and unarguably cruel methods used in trapping would cause outrage if done on the once wild species we now call pets. Imagine if you will, the neighbor’s small dog or cat or the 4H rabbit in a foothold trap, or hanging from a neck snare in the yard next to yours, for however many days until the owner comes to batter it to death… It is hard to believe that the obvious challenges to our standards of compassionate treatment of all living things are compounded by the fact that trapping is indeed a legal ‘past­?time’. Whenever decision makers refer to the ‘rights’ of trappers, we can be confident that is the ‘dead end’ to any discussion about the social implications of a practice. Inherently fascinating is the trappers’ own justification for what they do…..a common theme is that they are ‘doing a service’, somehow protecting the general populace from whatever mysterious consequence might befall us if trapping were to cease. Neither the administrative bodies who regulate trapping nor the trappers themselves will actually describe what this ‘service’ is.

There is also the complicated relationship between the general public and ‘animal rights’ advocates. Shockingly, the people who often advocate for kind and considerate treatment of non-human animals rely on inappropriate threats of violence and shaming towards their fellow human animals. Yes, it is extremely hard to understand the perspective of another person who views killing as a sport. Here is a wonderful quote by a Cougar Fund member “What makes a man want to kill for sport? There are women who do this also. THAT I really don’t understand. The ones who are to nurture, also kill. What makes someone want to kill anything? What makes someone wake up in the morning with the yearning to go out and kill something to make them feel powerful, or worthy?” (Thank you Janelle Peters Pitula) These are the questions that get to the heart of the issue. What is the difference in the psychology of those that kill for recreation and those that not only valtrex order canada have no desire to do this, but also find it incomprehensible.

Science is discovering more and more evidence of sentience in non-human animals, this is is the ability to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. This means that an animal suffers in much the same way that people do…pain, loss, fear, hunger, thirst. This was recognized by 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham when he said about animals “The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but “Can they suffer?” 

And yet we continue to differentiate between animals as to the level of suffering allowed according to superficial categorization. Animals are everywhere-in nature, factory farms, entertainment, captivity, laboratories, homes, public service, and in many, many more facets of our lives. Society ignores suffering in the case of fur-bearing species subject to trapping, and marginalizes it for livestock who are protected only by three laws which allow them no more than 28 hours without a break during transportation, a ‘humane death’ and easily exploited definitions of confinement. Laboratory animals are still pretty much ‘under the radar’ when it comes to acceptable ways to treat them-hidden by the smoke screen of seemingly altruistic exploitation for the sake of humans, their ailments, their make-up or their soap powder. Lastly, there is slightly more accountability surrounding acceptable ways to treat those animals we call ‘pets’. While different states do not have consistent laws protecting companion animals there is an element of community watchdogging and non-governmental organization oversight that can catapult egregious cruelty into the social media stratosphere. Why, and on what basis do humans get to decide that it is OK to torture a pine martin or a fox, but not puppy or a kitten? When is an animal proprietary and when is it free, and how does this relate to the level of suffering we allow? Wildlife is held in the public trust for us all, yet a minority by virtue of a few dollars have bought the right to ‘ownership’ that plays out in ways that degrade the human capacity for empathy and compassion.

Although there are Agency personnel who acknowledge that there is room for improvement in the regulations governing wildlife, they too admonish us for referring to the capacity of an animal to suffer. On the surface this would appear to be similar to the ostrich hiding its head in the sand-just because you cannot see it doesn’t mean it is not happening. It actually has a much deeper and darker basis. Even though the Public Trust Doctrine of which the North American Model is a component, was designed to manage wildlife for everyone, it failed to include everyone in its financial model. Thus, at the foundational level American wildlife is funded by money raised almost entirely by killing. Just as death and taxes are the certainties of human existence, death and sustainable wildlife management is the huge tangle that underlies the monopoly enjoyed by hunters. The inability of non-hunting users to participate at a financial level is what prevents democracy from entering the picture.

Man is a predator, he- like the iconic carnivores we share our environment with-will kill another animal in order to eat and survive.  The dance of predator and prey is in time with the rhythm of nature. Where we can explore opportunities for positive change is to be honest about the fact that man is the only animal that chooses to kill simply for pleasure, that is able to ignore the suffering of the animals he targets and who bases his/her own self worth on the ability to kill and display a trophy. Man can also choose to STOP elevating the act of recreational killing as an acceptable measurement of his prowess. We hope society will learn to celebrate the value of animals alive.

Follow up about the Mountain Lion killed in Nebraska.

http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/Mountain-Lion-Spotted-A-302835431.html

The Cougar Fund has been reaching out to all the players in the tragic events that developed outside the Project Harmony building in Omaha, Nebraska yesterday. In case you are new to the situation, here is a little background. Nebraska is home to a very small population of resident, reproducing mountain lions. This population is centered in the Pine Ridge Region on the western side of the state. As mountain lions mature,  the young will disperse from the mother’s home range as they seek to establish territory of their own. Mountain lions have quite simple needs, based on the instinct to eat, breed and find habitat that allows them to remain elusive. The way east does not provide very much opportunity to fulfill these needs so ‘passing through’ is how mountain lions usually experience the rest of Nebraska. At about 5pm on Wednesday May 6th a mountain lion was spotted in an outside area up against the Project Harmony building in Omaha. It is quite possible that the lion arrived in this spot via preferred riparian areas close to either Papillon or Hell Creeks in the vicinity. Project Harmony  is a humanitarian place of refuge and healing for children traumatized by abuse. The Omaha Police Department responded to the scene. The following information comes from telephone conversations with personnel from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC), the Omaha Police Department(OPD) and the Nebraska Humane Society (NHS).

The emergency response protocol of NGPC is to euthanize mountain lions found in metropolitan areas. That is it, plain and simple. The reasoning behind this is the lack of public land in Nebraska and also the fact that surrounding states have indicated their unwillingness to receive relocated animals. The protocol does not specify the method of euthanasia.

NGPC is the agency ‘in charge’ of the state’s wildlife and the OPD are in charge of ‘public safety’. When public safety is apparently threatened by the presence of a wild animal, the OPD look to the NGPC for guidance. The de facto choice in this situation is procedurally limited to euthanasia. It seems that someone in the police department was seeking a more compassionate solution because they also consulted with the Nebraska Humane Society and the Henry Doorly Zoo, which is frequently cited as the pre-eminent captive facility in the nation.

The Humane Society did respond to the scene, according to one of their workers. The police allowed them to assess the possibility for tranquilizing the lion, but they felt they were not in a position to accomplish this successfully and the order went out to kill the lion with gunfire, where it was resting.

There is no way to conceal the brutality of the killing of this animal. Although the use of shotguns is standard procedure by wildlife professionals, it seems that it resulted in a protracted death for the cougar. It has been reported by several witness that after the first shot gun blasts, the mountain lion stood up, in an apparent attempt to escape the barrage of ammunition. Would it have been possible to use the skills of a trained marksman, or wait for NGPC to arrive?

The cougar’s ultimate escape came with terror, pain and finally death.

We have been assured that there will be an investigation and a follow up report about this polarizing event. What can we expect? What would we like to see as the outcome? Can this cougar’s life and death be a catalyst for change in the attitudes that prevail about large carnivores?

Nebraska has been the site of great angst concerning the relatively recent presence of the slowly recovering mountain lion population. The predominant sentiment paints these apex predators as vicious killers from whom nobody is safe. The demand to hunt them, kill them on sight or otherwise protect people, pets and livestock from mountain lions has reached the very highest level of decision making, with reasonable management proposals being vetoed by the Governor at the end of the 2014 Unicameral Session.

NGPC itself called for a halt to the hunting season in light of the need for further study and because the incidental mortality had far exceeded their expectations. This was met by resistance in rural communities who are not willing to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence that safety AND mountain lions on the landscape can happen simultaneously! The actions of authorities such as NGPC and the OPD often reflect the values and demands of the communities they serve. This is most evident when the public is motivated by fear and misinformation. The video accompanying the news article attached, shows exaggerated references to public safety, when in fact the lion was in an isolated area and (as long as there were armed and trained officers to respond to any indication that the lion intended to approach people) public safety was being protected.

The directive to euthanize the  Project Harmony mountain lion may have been unavoidable under current guidelines, but the method was unacceptable under any circumstances.

It is too easy to just be a ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’. The most productive commentary is about asking ‘what comes next’? Public servants know that public opinion goes with the territory and they also know that they will get a chance to analyze this event and introduce better policies because of it. The ideal result would be that the citizens of Nebraska would learn from the experience of the millions of people living on the Front Range of the Rockies, in the Santa Monica’s or in densely populated South Florida. These urban dwellers have worked through their primitive reactions to large carnivores. They take sightings in stride and they adapt their own behavior to mitigate negative encounters. As citizens learn to live safely with large carnivores on the landscape, so the authorities respect and reflect the educated and tolerant attitude of the people they are sworn to protect.

This lion died by a cruel and unacceptable method, the videos are excruciating for us to see and hear and it is almost unbearable to imagine how much this lion suffered : not because of the protocol to kill cougars in urban areas; not because of an imminent threat to the sadly, already abused children present in Project Harmony; not because the Humane Society was unable to find a trajectory for their tranquilizers; but because fear prevented the decision makers from taking the time to carefully assess the level of threat and from their decision to use unsophisticated weaponry to kill the lion.

Decision makers must find a way to integrate time, knowledge, and heightened awareness into policy if man’s broken relationship with the wild is to be healed.

How different cultures define the grizzly bear. What that means to the future of this iconic animal.

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.

 http://www.kulr8.com/story/28949114/grizzly-delisting-rejected-by-tribes

 

Wildlife for ALL

We often think that those entrusted with protecting wildlife forget that wildlife is for all people. History, tradition, political pressure, and funding, have made it a challenge to respond to the needs of a broad demographic. The non-hunting community is left unsure of their representation at a state level. Is this the fault of the agencies alone? Not entirely, there are several ways that we can work together on finding solutions to the seeming imbalance that permeates wildlife management.

  • We can look for agency practices that DO encourage diverse participation, and who strive to protect our wildlife without reverting to only ‘killing them to save them’. We must affirm those efforts and positively reinforce the actions that show a true understanding  of managing wildlife in ways that serve the wildlife above all else.
  • We must show up! You will never go to a game agency meeting that has no hunting users present. We are all constituents and we must be prepared to show up too!
  • We must realize that change comes slowly, and that lasting change often comes from the changing of perceptions and understanding. A change of culture, not just of regulation. This is best illustrated when Bills are introduced in many states that liberalize hunting practices or fail to protect species we know need to be protected. Strong advocacy can often help to defeat those Bills, but it symbolizes winning a hill that will need to be defended-legislative session after legislative session-for years and years to come. These protracted battles mask the underlying issue which is not the regulatory question of ‘can we’ but the ethical question of ‘should we’?
  • We must always identify who the actual ‘decision-maker’ is, and that means knowing where the ‘leverage’ comes from. The person in front of you may have no control at all over what is happening. Find out who does and direct your efforts to them. Do not be afraid to ask the hard questions, over and over again if necessary, until you get an answer that is not simply rhetoric.
  • One of the main reasons that agencies are reluctant to include the needs of non-hunters and  advocacy organizations is that we rarely vote according to our core environmental beliefs. This often results in state governments, especially in the Rocky Mountain West, being mostly comprised of those with similar ideologies to their state’s historic demographic of producers and hunters. For the strategic politician these special interest stakeholders can mean the difference between re-election and ‘retirement’! This is the source of many of the policies that we find challenging and this is where the ‘buck stops’. Political pressure is as unfair to the dedicated agency folk as it is to the advocates.
  • Producers and carnivores CAN co-exist but it is up to the producer to take the steps required to do so. More and more livestock growers are embracing non-lethal deterrents and conflict prevention. We must support and encourage them as they try to find the new balance that is found beyond the use of bullets. They are 21st Century pioneers indeed!
  • We must be able to identify the actual issues that we are addressing. It can be cathartic to express our dissatisfaction through anger and by personal attacks. This becomes a distraction from what we are actually advocating for-the quality of life for the animals. It really is OK to disagree, in fact it can be the first step to real communication, we just have to remember to do it in a respectful and non-judgmental way. Talk to people the way you would like your favorite friend or relative treated if they were in the same position. It may be hard to admit, but our motivation may sometimes be biased by ‘baggage’ from interactions with particular personnel in the past. This goes both ways-it ends up with each side putting more energy into attacking the smoke than in putting out the fire. The animals and landscape are not helped when we give or take personal ‘hits’.
  • In identifying issues, we must also acknowledge that the differences we experience are usually based in ‘values’. ‘Science’ is a standard that we have put value on. However interpretation of ‘science’ can be a source of disagreement among scientists themselves, so in and of itself, it is not an involuble measurement. Knowing that our beliefs, attitudes and values are the foundation of our differences can be a breakthrough in how we see each other.
  • We can try to engage the people whose values we feel most distant from. This can be hard but it helps to know that you are not giving up your beliefs just by listening to someone else’s view, and maybe they will then listen to yours. Empathy is not about betraying yourself, it is about allowing yourself to try and see how the other person is experiencing the situation at hand. Remember to approach every situation as an opportunity to learn and to celebrate the chance to do so!
  • We cannot bully people into being compassionate! What we would like to see more than anything is compassion towards non-human animals. Let’s try it on each other first! Our enduring message is to question whether killing something just for recreation is justified. Simply put, it is easier to empower people’s compassionate nature than to overpower them into reluctant submission.
  • Advocates and watchers are associated with being ’emotional’. If we think about sport hunting of large carnivores (cougars, wolves, bears) logically, we realize that there is no reason to do it. It is not a conflict prevention measure because it does not target ‘problem’ animals. It is for recreation, and why do we recreate? We recreate for enjoyment-it gives us pleasure. And what are ‘enjoyment’ and ‘pleasure’ if not emotions?
  • Always remember that change IS happening. If we examine societal attitudes towards carnivores even since the 1960’s, it really is better, BUT there is movement today to go back to the old way of regarding these creatures as redundant. Several states have had bills introduced in efforts to relegate cougars to ‘predator status’ which is basically no accountability whatsoever.
  • Surprisingly much of the pushback to this regression is from professional wildlife managers. Some of them really are stepping up to the plate to fight for protection for wild carnivores. Those that do, deserve our support. As do those brave public servants devoted to protecting our Public Lands-these lands must stay in the Public Sector. This is an insidious and very real threat and we must respond to it with unity and firm resolve.
  • Lastly, funding is ‘in the news’ these days. Agencies are facing budget shortfalls and it is time for the funding AND the representation to reflect all the different stakeholders. There cannot be one without the other…

A quote by Woodrow Wilson recently came to our attention. It was part of an address to the Senate regarding the 1st World War. The arena of wildlife management is similar to the arena of war in its propensity to end up as highly defined ‘sides’. Perhaps the theme of this quote could be well utilized to administer the Public Trust Doctrine that governs our nation’s wild-lands and wildlife.

‘There must be, not a balance of power, but a community of power; not organized rivalries, but an organized common peace.’ 

There has been a monopoly for too long, it is time for community and not rivalry to take center stage in the protection of our most wonderful natural world….