Enviros sometimes prove their own worst enemies

Enviros sometimes prove their own worst enemies

I love wildlife, and will work diligently to protect imperiled species whenever possible. Indeed, I believe the Endangered Species Act stands as the greatest, most forward-thinking piece of legislation our government ever enacted. The environmental community deserves praise for its tireless efforts to protect threatened and endangered wildlife. But sometimes, good deeds go too far. Big Wildlife, an Oregon-based environmental group, takes its wildlife-protection mission too far today when they launched a campaign to ban all black bear hunting in Washington state. The group notes that hunters kill more than 1,500 black bears in Washington annually (actually, the number is more like 1,300!). They fail to point out, however, that the black bear population is growing despite the hunt. Ten years ago, roughly 25,000 black bears inhabited Washington. Today, more than 30,000 call Washington home. Indeed, my parents, living in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, have seen a steady increase of bears in their area. This year alone, I believe they've counted more than 10 individual bears from their back deck. I love wildlife and I want to see all species flourish, but that doesn't mean every single animal is sacrosanct. The fact remains that we no longer live an a world of widespread virgin wilderness. Humans occupy every corner of our planet, at least seasonally or transitionally. As such, we have an impact our world, including managing populations of critters.  Hunting is NOT an evil practice. I would argue, in fact, that MORE environmentalists should experience a real wilderness hunt, especially those greenies who consume meat, wear leather, or otherwise benefit from the death of animals. (I won't even get into the facts of the massive wildlife kill and habitat destruction that results from large scale farming, such as that which produces the world's sowbean crops so vegetarians can have their tufu-based fake meat replacements). Today's environmental organizations all too frequently forget that they owe their existence to generations of hunters. Many, if not most, of the  icons of the environmental movement lived the hunters' life: Aldo Leopold, Theodore Roosevelt, John James Audubon, Gifford Pinchot, William O. Douglas, Bob Marshall all enjoyed hunting during all or part of their lives. Today, the likes of Rick Bass, Ted Kerasote, Ted Williams, Annick Smith, William Kitredge, and others all share a strong environmental ethic, but all hunt and/or fish as part of their wilderness enjoyment.  Indeed, Ted Kerasote's book, "Bloodties" is perhaps the greatest work to date that links the hunter's ethic with the environmental ethic. Big Wildlife's push to ban black bear hunting in Washington plays on the emotions of urbanites who cheerfully consume shrink-wrapped beef from their local grocer, with no throught of where that meat comes from. Those same urbanites shrink in terror when they encounter black bears on popular hiking trails, or worse, when they hear of bears in their urban/suburban neighborhoods. "Ban hunting, but keep the bruins away from me!!!" I do believe hunting should be regulated and that unfair, unethic practices should be prohibited or limited (such as 'baiting' of bears – basically, regularly dumping food waste in a specific location to accustom bears into feeding on that garbage pile, so hunters can easily show up and shoot a bear of their choice when the seaosn opens). But with traditional pursuit and harvest practices, there is no reason NOT to allow hunting of animals that have a sustainable, stable population. You can read more about his issue at the Seattle P-I Blog site (here), but be prepared for a different slant than what I offer here. Seattle PI blogger Joel Connelly eagerly spews Big Wildlife's pitch that Washington's black bear hunt is akin to British Columbia's hunting season on grizzly bears. Of course,  he ignores the fact that grizzly are an Endangered Species in the Lower 48, and a species with a very limited population in British Columbia (as opposed to Washington's booming black bear population). Connelly apparently believes, if he has a point to make,  that its okay to compare apples to oranges (or perhaps a better comparison would be pigeons to California condors). Environmentalists and hunting enthusiasts MUST work together if we want to truly enact lasting, long-term protections of our wild country.
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