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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Stephen Capra, Executive Director, Bold Visions Conservation

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Happy New Year to you and your family and to the many species that simply want to coexist.

We live in a time of the sixth great extinction. They say by today, the population of the world will cross eight billion. We are losing species as we write this to development, people, and those that still insist on taking what species remain and trapping and killing them for trophies and for their right to do so.

One would think as the warnings continue about climate change and the loss of species; people would come together to stop the madness. But what I and many are confronted with is that we live not in the 1960s but in an era of media that controls every aspect of our lives. One that can use blatantly false information to control the lives and thoughts of so many, without regard to the planet but to the bottom line.

In this day and time, how can a person go to Africa and kill an elephant? How can people set traps that endanger people, pets, and wildlife on America’s public lands? How and why do we allow wolves and soon grizzly bears to be slaughtered when science has evolved and we know clearly the harm to the environment and the suffering and mental anguish it causes wildlife?

Here in Montana and in Idaho the push is on to delist grizzly bears, now the state agencies are trying to truck bears into zones to help with genetic diversity. But the question remains, why do we need to kill grizzlies? The answer is simple, we are catering to special interests, not the will of the people. This includes livestock interests, Outfitters, our Governors, trophy hunters, and trappers. What is so amazing, even in a Biden Administration, is that one bad person at US Fish and Wildlife-Martha Williams, can cause so much pain and suffering because she chooses to reward such destructive behavior as a sense of loyalty to her former employees at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and because she will never buck the system, it has rewarded her; something she must have learned in the polo playing days of her youth in Maryland.

If President Biden wins a second term, he would be wise in the first month to replace her and move to relist wolves and stop any delisting of grizzlies. It is long past due.

What many of us take umbrage with is the fact that in this day and time, these agencies ignore science, put life on our public lands at risk, and continue to appoint people who donate money to Governors. When, in fact, they should be allowing for the true transformation of the agencies that do their job to protect wildlife, deal in science, and have people who are educated in wildlife, not slaughter.

As we move into 2024, it is clear commenting on the actions of the Game Agency is not changing their minds. They could have easily left hunting and trapping of wolves out of Section 313 on the Yellowstone border, but they did not. We must call these members out in the press, in Op-eds, and in letters. We must shout them down in meetings and protest in the streets.

If we simply lay back without bringing a voice to wildlife, then wildlife will go silent. We are dealing with a level of madness that must be stopped, and if we love our public lands, then we cannot allow it to be the domain of trappers and their ilk.

These public lands belong to Americans, the vast majority of whom want to recreate, not kill, and most do not even conceive that trapping still occurs on public lands.

So, gain your voice in 2024, it’s going to take an armada of dedicated people that make clear, wolves, grizzlies and other creatures deserve to live and we will not accept anything less.

We will not be ignored.

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