by Stephen Capra
Sometime in the beginning of the 20th century, after the slaughter of wildlife in proportions that few have ever witnessed, states and the country as a whole, undertook the idea that managing wildlife was a means of protecting it. While it has helped certain game species over time, it has been nothing short of “cruel and unusual punishment” for predator species.
The irony of course is that after a slaughter of such epic proportions, why were man, not wildlife regulated? Sure they had to get a license and hunting seasons were created, but why were they not just stopped from such madness and wildlife allowed to flourish. The answer begins with the control that livestock interests have long held over our Western public lands.
No one has played a stronger role in the destruction of wildlife than the livestock industry. From the start, taking lands from Native Americans and killing predators that would harm cows was a business model. Nothing was allowed to stand in the way of profits. Beyond destroying wildlife, the impact to the lands was devastating.
In the 1920’s, the Game and Fish Department was established in New Mexico and men such as Aldo Leopold pushed hard to allow sportsmen as much control over the process as possible. Yet, his efforts were flawed by the ability of Governor’s to control appointment to the Game and Fish Commissions.
Today in our state the Game and Fish Commission could be confused for an FBI Most Wanted List, with clear livestock, oil, Gas and Safari Club membership and no evidence of anyone that remotely has real experience, a science background or a real connection to the environment.
The same could be said in Florida, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Montana, the list is endless. It is wildlife that pays the price with a continuance of trapping, an effort to end reintroduction of wolves. In New Mexico bills have already been introduced calling for the “extinction” of Mexican wolves.
Thus no other agency has more direct ‘blood on their hands’ in relation to the killing of wolves than state Game and Fish Departments. Going on the orders of ignorant and livestock controlled Western Governors, Game and Fish Departments have allowed the slaughter of wolves in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. They have allowed the gruesome killings of wolves that have left their states and travelled hundreds if not thousands of miles only to be killed by so-called “coyote hunters”.
If we are ever to allow wildlife to flourish in America, we must regulate PEOPLE not wildlife. If we are ever going to see wolves and other predator species flourish, we must End Game and Fish Departments as we know them.
It begins with exposing them and educating the public. Few people understand the direct role they play in the killing of wildlife species. In a state like New Mexico where only 4% of the population hunts, why is it that the other 96% are ignored when it comes to wolves and other predator species or the betterment of land and all wildlife? Why is trapping still allowed?
Spare us the argument that its part of our culture! We just saw another symbol of culture come down with the removal of the Confederate flag, so too can trapping. Reform of this agency like removal of such hate filled flags is also long overdue.
In the coming months Bold Visions Conservation will be making a film about Game and Fish, designed to show the reality of this department, to expose the corruption and the total lack of sound science used. Our goal is to see this agency reformed, ended or pressured into real change.
That requires both education and allowing the sun to shine as it relates to how this agency and its corrupt and frankly criminal Commission operate. Making clear the direct link between the Governors that appoint these commissions and the decisions they make. How is it that oil and gas, livestock and sportsmen control the outcome of decisions the vast majority of people in their states would oppose?
Allowing real consensus will allow the true liberation of wildlife and end the continued 19th century mentality that controls wildlife in America. We created these commissions at a time when the killing of wildlife was a true American Genocide.
Today, while some species have recovered, we maintain on these commissions, not an acknowledgement of past wrongs, but a stubborn determination to ignore history as we allow the pain and slaughter to continue.
Our goal is to change a system that has long been broken, and frankly never understood or accepted man’s tendency, combined with greed, to kill anything that stands in the way of profit or dominance.
Shame on us! Yes, shame on us! We can do far better and before another species is lost, before another wolf cries out in pain, caught in steel, alone and dying, we can crush ignorance with exposure than comes in the form of real sunshine for all wildlife and elected officials.
Bold Visions Conservation