by Stephen Capra
How is it that some people are born to love wild nature and all that it encompasses, while others view it as a place of profit? A place where wildlife, rivers, mountains wear a price tag, and the end game is to see who can leave there with the most money. Such blood money is generated via oil and gas, timber production, development, nuclear waste storage, trapping and hunting.
Such an apocalyptic vision is a core principle held by our southern Congressman Steve Pearce. Mr. Pearce is perhaps one of Congresses most despicable members. He is an oil and gas man first, nuclear champion, frustrated logger, friend of the livestock industry, quasi-religious fanatic and an in-your-face challenger to anything speaking of biodiversity, National Parks, Wilderness or the EPA.
But if he has a special place of hatred and longing to destroy anything it is the Mexican wolf, really all wolves if he were asked. He is willing to be the symbol for the extinction of the species and has proudly introduced legislation to accomplish just that.
H.R. 2910 is to Pearce and his co-sponsor Paul Gosar (R-AZ) a bill designed to save “families, their children, farms and ranches, from Mexican wolves’ attacks and severe economic losses from harmful federal regulations.” Yes, you read that correctly, a wolf that is slightly smaller than one of my dogs is a threat to all of humanity and must be killed.
Having been to Washington many times to lobby let me explain some things about Mr. Pearce. Having met with him many times, every meeting follows a pattern of him staring at you with real hatred, and then he begins to challenge you in front of staffers in a demeaning tone and one of real authority.
Perhaps his best argument is his hatred of the Federal Government, which he has the gall to present while sitting in the heart of the Federal Government enjoying the ridiculous pay for working 80 days a year and all the government perks and enrichments for him and his family. In other words, this man is a complete jackass without a soul.
The sad reality is he is not alone. He is part of an organized and well-paid sector of Congress, which lives off the largess of Big Oil, Nuclear, Agriculture, Livestock, Monsanto and the Koch Brothers, to try and destroy our Western public lands and all things wild. Wolves are the poster child for this rightwing-fueled hatred that allows this fringe element to continue to have far too large a voice.
The first question in my mind is where is the Democratic response? Who can we expect to introduce the legislation to ‘Protect our Wild Western Heritage Bill,’ one that would expand the wolf recovery program into neighboring states; take control from state Game and Fish Departments and put all recovery and regulation into federal management?
Come on Democratic legislators; we know that the Congressman’s bill is not going to pass…but we also know that he is laying a marker and building momentum. Why is it that we feel we are barely holding on? It’s time to show some real leadership and courage.
Part of our ‘Wild Western Heritage Bill’ should include a sharp increase in grazing fees, the end of Wildlife Services, a new tax on methane from cattle, end trapping on federal lands--and of course more funding for the entire endangered species program, along with a clear directive to put wolves back on the land. Who will take charge for taking our Western public lands into the 21st century? Who will begin to introduce legislation that will transform the West?
We lack the boldness of purpose in terms of land, water and wildlife with many leaders and remain resigned so that they will quietly help us to maintain the status quo. That status quo is opening the door to the likes of Congressman Pearce who not that many years ago called for selling off all public lands!
In speaking with the one of the regional heads of Fish and Wildlife some years back, he said Pearce “put a boot on my head” in terms of wolves, but no such boot came from Democrats. They simply were passive.
Wolf protection is something the vast majority of people want, while our leaders are silent. The President did more harm to the wolf program than anyone, by siding with hunters and ranchers to begin killing gray wolves again. We will protect the actions of our zero Congressman, but we seek a leader in Congress, one that can step out of the shadows and move on a real Western agenda; one designed with our children in mind; one that allows our wildlife, watersheds and lands to heal from 200 years of abuse at the hands of those that see the earth as a place of profit, rather than the Cathedral of Life for all species.
Bold Visions Conservation