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What is so Wrong with Fighting?


Having worked in conservation for thirty-plus years, I have been front row to the demise of the conservation movement. Conservation, which was once a calling, is devolving into nice jobs for people to have, perhaps starting a family and following what is somehow referred to as professionalism. In other words, don’t rock the boat.

 

Not all groups fit this bill, but increasingly, it is the norm. This translates into careful communication, less pushing of elected officials, and losing what used to drive us: heart, fight, and spirit. In the past, we rewarded those who showed leadership and spirit. Sigurd Olson, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, John Muir, Marty Muire, David Brower, and Dave Foreman, to name a few.

 

But after years of training, many of which I attended, the message was clear. Stay quiet, do your job, raise money, sue if you can, and take lots of credit for everything. Work towards compromise. This so-called professionalism has stolen our voice as a movement, and along with college courses that push collaboration over winning, we are left with the crumbs of what we once were.

 

Today, groups like the Wilderness Society praise logging in Montana, The Nature Conservancy has become a giant logging operation on their vast tracts of land, and wolf issues are off-limits to the Sierra Club in Colorado. More and more groups seek compromise over victory at a time when the earth is screaming for help. We had serious concerns when we heard of the reintroduction of wolves to Colorado. We pushed a message to many groups that before we introduced it, we must fix the slaughter that is occurring in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. No groups shared such an interest; it was time to move forward; as Mike Phillips said, “Get wolves on the ground, and the rest will take care of itself.”

 

If taking care of itself means a twelve-month hunting and seven-month trapping season (in Idaho) on wolves with bounties, in Montana, continued slaughter, wolves are subjected to a life of fear and disruption. This, we submit, means that, as a community, we have failed.


Now, we are fighting for wolves in Colorado because that is where this whole process has arrived. Yes, wolves belong there, but we need to ensure they have a real shot at a quality of life; we must repel the worst instincts of ranchers who think they control our public lands.

The reality is simple: many groups tried too hard to appease rancher interests in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming at the expense of wolves. It is why they are being wiped out in these northern states. It is why states like Montana are fighting the relisting of wolverines to the Endangered Species list. Idaho is now calling for more slaughter of wolves even though livestock deprivation is near zero. They continue to use Ipom, the (Interagency Occupancy Patch Model), which we know increases the wolf count by 150%. They feel empowered.

In Colorado today, we have a chance to begin some important policies that will reward and enforce the idea of non-lethal measures for wolves and livestock and will allow a gateway for co-existence. As I mentioned, we have a leader in Representative Tammy Story, who is a fighter and cares about the future of wolves in Colorado. We need to support her!


What we want to make clear is that we must fight. Not for the sake of fighting but to harness the energy and drive that resulted in so many victories in the life of the conservation movement. We must fight because we are the frontline of defense of all wild creatures. Our goal at Bold Visions Conservation is not to be liked by our opposition but to make clear we are in this to win. Winning is what the earth needs now; it is what all wildlife is begging for, and we face an opposition that is filled with arrogance, contempt, and a desire to kill for fun or to destroy all that is wild.

 

The conservation community’s emotional withdrawal from all that is wild comes at a cost; it zaps the emotional fire from fighting for all you love and instead substitutes it with logic, compromise, and mixed messaging. It shows the weakness that has become part of a narrative of endless political correctness and resignation.

 

Wolves are charismatic animals, their story compelling and uplifting. To lose battles on behalf of this animal is a disgrace. It comes, as it did from the start, by trying to compromise instead of winning and moving forward. If we do not start fighting, we will soon see the reality of our nebulas march, loss of wilderness, public lands, and wildlife.


At Bold Visions, we are here to fight and to make clear that groups must work together to improve our public lands and wildlife, not compromise them away.

 

Please take a moment to thank Representative Story for her work to support wolves and let the other agriculture committee members know you want them to support her bill that requires non-lethal means of protecting livestock and fighting for true co-existence!


TALKING POINTS:

 

• Make clear the importance of this bill and the fact that grazing is not a right but a privilege, thus the importance of ranchers taking responsibility to work towards co-existence.

 

• The fact that non-lethal approaches will save ranchers money in the long run and prevent the reality that unstable wolf packs create more deprivation.

That wolves are here to stay and co-existence is vital.

 

• Wolves will benefit the environment, make wildlife far healthier, and make rivers thrive.

 

• Ranchers enjoy lavish subsidies, and we cannot allow them to dictate wolf policy.

 

• Chronic Wasting disease is a reality, and wolves are the front line of defense.

 

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