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September Blues

Stephen Capra, Bold Visions Conservation

With so much happening to wildlife, I feel the time has come to write more and work to engage the public in Montana and Idaho. With September upon us, the beginning of hunting season likely means those with a bow who know where wolves are denning are hungry to destroy the beauty that defines wildness. They are the ugly souls that inhabit the forest.

Their goal is to display their ignorance and fears and kill an animal so powerful and beautiful that they somehow feel a rush of eternal strength.

Yet we know the reality: they are worthless humans whose souls must answer for their carnage. Wolves belong in the West; they improve their habitat and keep the elk moving. They free wildlife of disease and improve our waterways. Despite the harassment we get, they do not need the management that so many cry about.

We must look at our public lands as a gift to all Americans. On these lands, we must demand the full circle of wildlife, not just what trophy hunters, trappers, and ranchers desire. What do we want?

From the perspective of many, we want the chance to see wildlife. No dead or trapped, but alive. We want to develop a new relationship with species that live in fear of us. We want to hike in areas free of cows, and we want a strong voice pertaining to wildlife. We want and demand an end to trapping and snaring, for there is no justification for such actions during an extinction crisis. As America tries to impart significant influence on the world and to make freedom a core principle in foreign countries, we still show our own ignorance and faults as we allow such destruction to occur as people the world over flock to Yellowstone, to find out we allow the slaughter of both wolves and bison just a few feet from the park's border. Such actions mock our principles as a nation; they reinforce how we tell nations to operate while we cynically allow the slaughter of such valuable wildlife and create our own human-based, legally allowed extinction of wolves and soon grizzlies. Groups that use the euphonism-sportsmen are often at the forefront of such destructive practices. The Leopoldian practices that guided many a generation are being lost to technology and a media frenzy supporting hunting and getting the trophy animal, no matter the cost. Groups like the Safari Club and the Foundation for Wildlife Management put money into campaigns and suck up to the Wildlife Agencies they control, along with Republican and Democratic legislatures and Governors.

But we can make a difference. Much like the gun debate, entrenched interests continue to yield power, but that power is eroding. It is not enough to oppose trapping; we must have a level of outrage! We must demand that Fish, Wildlife and Parks be torn down and rebuilt with a conservation, not an extinction goal. We also have to talk more and educate the public about wildlife's pain and suffering. Trappers tell me wildlife feels no pain; the suffering wolves are going through is unimaginable and must stop. The stress and suffering are real, and it begins with bow season in September and will not end till trapping stops on March 15th. This is not just cruel; it is sick. Take some time and educate yourself about The Foundation for Wildlife Management. They are perhaps the most damaging of these groups, and they are the organization that started the bounty program and whose board and ED love to trap and kill wolves. Their next effort will be grizzlies. They must be stopped, and we will cover them in increasing detail in the months ahead.

People are tired and frustrated by all this, and that is what these groups and the Commission are trying to achieve. We must fight back with anger and focus and threaten the very legitimacy that they cling to that gives them power. It begins with a serious effort to end the current Commission and to make efforts to defend the department by blocking the monies received by Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson. We must create a separate commission run by select citizens and wildlife groups that issues its own statements and data to show this agency's disconnect clearly. One thing is clear: We must vocally make clear this agency and Commission have no credibility and that the time has come to rebuild from the ground up so that wildlife has a chance to thrive.


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