Oh Golly, if you are anything like us, the Holidays are a wonderful time, full of love and celebration….it’s how we get to the place where we can relax and enjoy them that is the challenge!
So many of our friends and families already have much of what they want and need. People everywhere are starting to embrace a more minimalist way of living, especially those who are concerned about the effects of over-consumption on our beautiful planetary home.
This year The Cougar Fund is making it possible for you to make a gift donation in the name of someone you know that loves the earth and the creatures we share it with. We are motivated and dedicated. We strive to provide facts about wildlife, the need for open space, for public lands, for diversity of species including the large charismatic carnivores like the cougar and grizzlybear and wolf. How we can help them thrive and how we might accommodate having these magnificent beings on our landscapes with the least potential for conflict. Our educational outreach is expanding and successfully inspiring new generations. We love what we do and are confident your own dear ones will be thrilled if you help our work by giving in their name. You can even personalize the beautiful e-card that will be sent as acknowledgement of your gift, or download and print it to pop under the tree!
Just follow this link, make a donation and the page will open up for you to express your love and send your Holiday Greetings to the recipient. Thank you for helping us, thank you for caring about the natural world. May all your days be as happy as the Holidays.
Wyoming has been at the forefront of gubernatorial efforts to change the Endangered Species Act. They would like it to become ‘more effective’. The current effectiveness of the ESA interferes with deliberate and sustained corporate exploitation of our environment and the flora and fauna that live there. The question is whether the ESA was designed to enhance capitalism or conservation?
There is growing interest in the scientific community as well as among the public, about the recovery of cougar populations. Cougars were once the most widespread large carnivore in the Americas, but fear, overreaction to their effects on livestock, and the exploitation of them for bounties led to extirpation in the majority of their former range.
It is ironic that the hard work of State Wildlife managers and academics led to the successful re-establishment of breeding populations in many places, but came with the price of allowing them to be killed simply for pleasure.
Most in the conservation community would agree that the co-existence of predators and prey enhances ecological diversity. We can celebrate the news in the article below, but there is an urgent need to get ahead of the dispersing cougar populations with intense and concerted education and outreach. Sound knowledge will prevent future vilification of this magnificent creature. The keys to co-existence will be conflict prevention and social tolerance if cougars are to regain territory where the biggest problems are habitat destruction and fragmentation.
There are sixteen states that have mountain lions and in every state except Texas (where they are vermin), they are ‘managed’. In California and Florida mountain lions are not hunted but steps are taken to protect people, pets, and livestock if a lion has become a credible threat (not just a random sighting).
It is a misnomer that trophy hunting of mountain lions is a form of management. It is actually the provision of a recreational opportunity for those who like to kill lions and an attempt to assure supply for those who like to kill the natural prey that the lions eat.
This is hunter management not wildlife management.
The science that goes into season setting, basically identifies a ‘surplus’ of lions that is expendable for the fulfillment of hunter demands. Young male lions face survival challenges without hunting, and as withmost species, they are considered ‘redundant’. This is why killing for sport is not necessary to manage populations-the competitive nature of lions means that they are largely self regulating as far as maintaining numbers that can be supported by available habitat and food sources. However, it is not the young males that the hunters want…they want the trophy. Killing the big Tom is the accomplishment sought by many in the field. This reduces the age demographic and destabilizes the dominant-male equilibrium of populations
Our best case scenario for mountain lions is that they are no longer killed for pleasure, but thoughtfully managed to prevent conflict as in California and Florida. However, we want to thank the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commission for making life better for 5 female cougars. They removed them from the quota proposal that had its final hearing yesterday.
First it was the agrarian revolution, then the industrial revolution then the industrialization of agrarianism. Now we have a new, insidious, and very dangerous ‘revolution’ as we see the industrialization of the oldest formal method of survival- ‘hunting’. States’ rights to manage wildlife and their willingness to do so for a minority of their citizens, have led to the undesirable, even unethical, practice of ‘cultivating’ ungulate herds by putting pressure on carnivores. This has led to the misuse of the underlying foundation of ‘science.’ It is now used only to justify the ‘value’ of providing the political and financial opportunities that go hand-in-hand with the demands of ungulate hunters and the positive revenue they realize for the Agencies. The herds are yours and mine, yet they are being sold to the highest bidder and the predators whose job it is to contribute to the biodiversity of the natural world are being vilified and slaughtered.
The deer and elk ‘industry’ is not wildlife management. It is supply and demand to satisfy those with political clout. Our fellow predators are not the enemy of a free market niche of ungulate hunters. We need to say a resounding ‘NO’ to the slippery slope of policies that condone managing wild predatory species to provide for the demands of the human predator.
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.
Half Moon Bay stands as a testament to the thoughtful responsiveness of California’s wildlife agency. The area, which was once associated with the tragic killing of a pair of mountain lion kittens, is now the standard for appropriate conflict prevention and resolution. Following the tragedy members of the agency created positive and proactive protocols which together with broad-based and appropriate training make California’s mountain lion management a beacon of hope in a world where the bullet is often the first and only choice.
We cannot stress strongly enough just how unnecessary and, well, disgusting, trophy hunting of grizzlybears is. British Colombia enables this awful recreation and the spring season starts today.
Let there be no mistake…this is all about money and ego. Revenue for the state and bragging rights for people willing to drop the $10,000+ price on a grizzly bear life. Wyoming, Idaho and Montana are all chomping at the bit to add grizzly bear slaughter to their recreational menu as soon as the bears are removed from the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
We should be outraged, we should be protesting the exploitation of an icon that belongs to us all-not only to those that define their personal value by what they are able to kill.