Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear delisting: Have your say

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T. Mangelson photo; click image for info

Kathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

As I write, over 400 comments have been recorded by the US Fish & Wildlife Service on its proposal to delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bears from Endangered Species Act protection. That’s 400+ comments in the first 10 or so days since the comment period opened (it closes May 10, 2016, at 11:59 PM ET). If the comments below (original spelling intact) whet your appetite for more, know that some 17 webpages are available for your perusal:

“This is the time that the FWS needs to STOP catering to the special interest groups and take into consideration the thousands and thousands of people from everywhere who come to the Yellowstone region to view wildlife in their element – NOT to support trophy or sport hunting. Hasn’t the death of CECIL taught you anything? … DO NOT DELIST THE GRIZZLY BEARS…”  

“There are way too many Grizzly’s! They are wounding and killing people!!! Are we really that stupid!!! It is damn scary going hunting with these things around. I wish the knuckleheads that protect these beasts would go wonder the woods so they can feed on them!!!” 

“I write to OPPOSE the proposed delisting. My family visited Yellowstone a couple of years ago. We were fortunate enough to see a mother grizzly with her three cubs. …It was magical, amazing and connected my children to nature in a way they have never forgotten. Delisting these bears would be premature. …Indeed, the number one cause of death for grizzlies in the Yellowstone Ecosystem these days is human. Delisting would only exacerbate this.”

“Congratulations to the USFWS! Exactly what the ESA was created to accomplish. Please don’t allow the anti-hunter/environmentalist crowd to obstruct responsible state managed hunting seasons. Please support the North American “model” of wildlife management that has for over 100 years proven to be successful!”

“I’m opposed to removing the Greater Yellowstone population of grizzly bears from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife. The support for delisting is primarily the result of a right wing political movement against the endangered species act itself. The science is being sacrificed for politics. The bears and ecosystem they support, are also being sacrificed. Follow the science. Ignore the politics. Do what you know is right.”

“It’s about time! … the grizzlies are out of control. The ecosystem can no longer sustain them at the rate they are expanding, I fully support this delisting and look forward to grizzlies being managed just like the other animals that have been a part of the extremely successful North American model of conservation. Please don’t let environmentalists interfere with facts and reason.”

“I strongly oppose the delisting of Grizzly Bears … Do not give in to those who would see these important bears as nothing more than a threat to their livestock, or a trophy to be gunned down. Allow science, not political pandering, to be the measuring stick of true recovery.”

“It is time to let the hunters do there part in conservation. Full support.”

But be forewarned–wading into this fray might set your head to spinning. Both sides claim that science is on their side. Many commenters–those clamoring for trophy hunting–consistently call for management to be turned over to the states in what is certainly an orchestrated campaign by hunting groups. Bears have lost their fear of humans, and hunting will fix that is another theme. A cattle association president bellyaches about “calf loss rates” due to grizzlies on national forest grazing allotments–the very same citizen-owned public lands that native grizzlies should have uncontested access to.

Remember Bear 399? You got acquainted with this special griz in “Bear 399: Delisting the grizzly you know.” The arguments against the premature delisting proposal are all laid out there: critical changes in food supply; habitat expansion and connectivity obstacles; immediate trophy hunting; too many conflict-related mortalities; and one that I failed to mention in that post (super-mom 399 notwithstanding)–“grizzly bears have one of the slowest reproductive rates among terrestrial mammals, due to their late age of first reproduction, small average litter size, and the long interval between litters: it may take a single female 10 years to replace herself in a population” (source). A list of good resources is also attached to that post. Everything needed to make a decent, succinct comment is there.

Will our comments against delisting change anything? Probably not. But let the final tally show that more people were selflessly concerned with species survival than with bragging rights to taxidermy mounts and bearskin rugs. I hold in my imagination the beautiful image of a human mom pointing out to her awe-struck kids the sight of a grizzly mom tending her own kids as she attempts to make her way through a human-dominated world that holds both wonder and respect for her life…and bullets for her death.

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Links to documents & commenting:

  • Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Removing the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Population of Grizzly Bears From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, here. Includes link to docket folder, summary, and extensive supplementary and background information.
  • Docket folder summary: Includes a few comments, a link to “view all” comments, and a “comment now” button for your own two cents.

Bear 399: Delisting the grizzly you know

P1120382Kathleen Stachowski    
Other Nations

We humans don’t relate well to nonhuman animals at the population level–so goes the theory. But give us the particulars about a specific individual–tell us his or her story–and we get it: this is someone who has an interest in living. Someone with places to go…kids to raise…food to procure. Like us, this is someone who wants to avoid danger–while living the good life. This is an individual with a story–and a history.   Continue reading

Quite the Trophy: The Truth Behind Trophy Hunting and Conservation

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Lena Cavallo

This past March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the request to import “trophies” of two American hunters  These “trophies” will be the remains of two dead black rhinos after a scheduled hunt in Namibia.  Black rhinos are listed as critically endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Therefore, approving such a request requires that the import will enhance the species’ survival.  Since 2003, Namibia has enforced the Black Rhino Conservation Strategy which authorizes the killing of five male rhinos annually to stimulate population growth.  When considering the request, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service experienced an “unprecedented” level of public involvement.

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Rhinos are not the only animals targeted in these trophy hunts. All megafauna of the African ecosystem are available for the hunt. The African lion population has been in a serious decline, prompting individuals and organizations to demand that the species be listed as endangered under the kendall-jones-huntingESA. Studies have shown that trophy hunting is a direct cause to this decline, albeit not the only cause.

Trophy hunting has come under severe criticism by environmentalists, animal rights activists, and the general public.  Trophy hunters, like those involved in Continue reading

Love it…list it…stuff it? African lion listing open for public comment

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LionAid photo; click image

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

From the Have Your Cake & Eat It Too Department: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has announced that it intends to list the African lion as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) … while continuing to allow the importation of lion trophies by American trophy hunters under a permit system.

Who’s hailing this decision as a victory?

Safari Club International applauded the proposal as a win for hunters and a loss for conservation groups that sought the endangered designation that would have prohibited the importation of trophies, a big lure for hunters.

“This conclusion is a blow to the anti-hunting rhetoric put forward by organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and International Fund for Animal Welfare,” the group said. ~The Washington Post  

Continue reading

“Extreme Huntress” and hunting’s flimsy facade

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Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

How extreme does one have to be to earn the title of “Extreme Huntress”? Don’t let the diminutive -ess suffix trick you into thinking this title is a shoddy substitute for the real (male) deal. These women will get up off their childbirth bed to score a trophy–and tote two-week-old Junior along for the thrill of the kill.  Continue reading

A (trophy animal) picture is worth a thousand (angry, violent) words

 

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From Huffington Post; click image for article & original photo credit

Kathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

One woman (sporting a Safari Club International cap), one gun, one dead giraffe. One pump-my-ego photo posted and then shared hundreds of times on animal rights Facebook pages, generating thousands of sad or angry comments.

Many–distressingly many–of the responses to these vile, celebratory trophy photos are vile and violent themselves. When the killer is a woman, the comments can also be terribly misogynistic: “Stupid brainless b*tch!” “This fat ugly b*tch should be shot!” “Shoot this b*tch!”  Continue reading

Harming animals to help humans: When charity isn’t charitable redux

Impala and friend – click image

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Can the act of killing an animal in Africa help addicted, teen mothers in Montana? Sadly, yes. That’s just the crazy, speciesist world we live in–the one created by us, for us.

Though humans today and forever have found divisions–think race, religion, country, tribe–over which to oppress and kill each other, one thing that unites us categorically is our species, particularly in relation to other animals. It’s us against them, or us over them–the human animal lording it over all “lower” animals. Except for those who have value to us as “pets,” the idea of noblesse oblige doesn’t cross species lines. What some of us recognize as brutal, self-serving exploitation of the other animal nations is seen, by many others, as the natural, beneficial order of things. Ain’t that how it goes with the privileged class?!?    Continue reading

Trophy Hunting: It’s Not Just Plastic Gold Statues Anymore

Simona Fucili

37975Hundreds of hunters travel to Africa every year for something they refer to as a sport, trophy hunting.  They essentially look to shoot animals to hang on their walls as trophies.  This sport not only is unethical and another form of animal cruelty, but it also creates problems that affect the ecosystem.  Although hunting was a crucial part of humans’ survival 100,000 years ago, in this writer’s opinion, more recent hunting is rarely done for the need of subsistence.  Moreover, where people once hunted to feed their family, it would seem that currently, hunting is now performed as a violent form of recreation where hunters seek out the best heads of animals they can find for their walls at home.  According to Change.org, hunting has now contributed to the extinction of many animal species all around the world including the Tasmanian tiger and the great auk.  Although there are other factors that may lead to an animal’s extinction such as climate change, habitat loss and national and international wildlife trade, hunting is the biggest threat for the extinction of mammals according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and devolvement challenges.

Continue reading

Wolf-delisting: The Politics of Blood

gray-wolf-gazingGeorge Bush and his peeps thought gray wolves should be delisted as endangered species in Montana and Idaho.  So does Ken Salazar and, we must assume, Barack Obama.  Bush and peeps also thought it okay to ignore allies.  So, apparently, do Ken Salazar and Barack Obama.  But never mind politics.

Wolves were hunted to near extinction in this country due in large part to their (undeserved) reputation as dangerous predators and to the caterwauling of ranchers who like to poison, shoot or trap anything that might eat their animals before people do.  Thanks to the Endangered Species Act and a well-executed reintroduction program in the Northwest (carried out over the vociferous protests of ranchers and others), there are now approximately 1600 wolves in the Northern Rockies.

That, apparently, is too many.  Since Montana and Idaho have pledged to maintain populations of 400 and 500 animals, respectively, wolf-hunting may soon commence.  Supposedly, states can be trusted to create sound management plans for the animals.  Idaho Governor Butch Otter has a plan: kill as many as possible without the wolves being relisted.  You see, wolves eat elk and that means less elk for people to shoot.  It’s a crime perpetrated on the American sportsman.  Upon hearing the news of the imminent delisting, Governor Otter howled with glee and declared, “I’m prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself.”

One wonders if Idaho and Montana will be like Alaska — where “hunters” can shoot wolves from the air.  Or maybe it will just be another classic confrontation of a heavily armed man against an unarmed animal who, when it dies, will almost certainly be attempting to flee.  You see, in the history of the United States, there has never been a fatal attack on a human by a wolf.  Never.

My son is doing a report on wolves for his class.  He has become fascinated by their language, their pack life, and their intelligence.  He is incredulous that they were extirpated from most of the United States and indignant about their undeserved reputation.  Last night, I told him of the Obama Administration’s decision.  He was heartbroken.

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Women, Animals, and Advertising

Very interesting thread at the always intriguing Feminist Law Professors blog discussing the images below and asking whether they are “Mocking Sexism or Mocking Feminism?”

The text in both ads (for Eram, a French shoe company) says (more or less): “No women’s bodies were exploited in this ad.”

Given the parallels noted by many scholars between the exploitation of animals and the exploitation of women (perhaps most insightfully by Carol Adams in The Sexual Politics of Meat), I wonder why the use and abuse of animals in and out advertising has not come up in the discussion.  The irony and controversy embedded in the statement that no women’s bodies were exploited in the making of the ad stems from the juxtaposition of the cross-dressing beefcake shot (a loaded term from an animal perspective) and the ostrich wearing boots likely made from others of its kind.  The subtext, as I read it, is that multiple animals were exploited in the making of the ad but that’s okay because it’s funny and feminists should lighten up.  Is it really ok?  And why would that be funny?

–David Cassuto

The Super Slam: Ethics and the Trophy Hunt

It has been a busy news cycle.  Our economy continues to tank, the conflict in Gaza continues to rage, an unarmed man lying face down in police custody in Oakland is shot dead.  The list goes on.  Much other news, both good and bad, permeates the airwaves, print, and ether.

Faced with all this, I turn to the sports pages of the NY Times for a little distraction and find this story about a group of bow hunters whose goal is to kill 29 North American species.  It used to be 28 but just last summer the Pope and Young Club (the keeper of records relating to this quest) announced the inclusion of the Tule Elk, bringing the grand total to 29.  Killing all 29 is known as the North American Super Slam.

The Times story breathlessly relates the way the men (they seem always to be men) stalk the animals.  One of the hunters profiled described it as “a personal goal” of his to “harvest all 28 species… now 29.”  Those pursuing the Super Slam must adhere to a rigid code of conduct.  Among other things, they cannot kill an animal helpless in a trap, in deep water or snow and they cannot shoot from powered vehicles or boats, use night lights, tranquilizers, poisons.  They seek intimacy: “That’s the advantage of bow hunting,” according to a surgeon from Anchorage.  “You’re forced by the equipment you’ve chosen to spend more time with the animal.”

The code seems to contain a normative component – one cannot kill an animal in a non-sporting way.  Yet nowhere in this code, which encourages people to kill 29 different animals, is there any discussion about whether the killing itself has any moral relevance.  I find this curious.  A code mandating that one not kill animals in certain ways would seem to require antecedent consideration about whether it is right to kill the animals at all.  Certainly, no necessity exists here (one of the hunters interviewed estimated that he had spent over $400,000 pursuing the Slam).  The term “harvest” seems misplaced since the animals do not get eaten.  The entire point of the endeavor (other than fueling the taxidermy industry) appears to revolve around killing for no other reason than fun.  This raises some pressing moral questions.

I believe it safe to assume that Slam seekers would agree that the animals they hunt are sentient (otherwise, why the code of conduct?).  They would probably also agree that the animals can experience fear and suffer.  Why then would it be ethically neutral to kill them for no other reason than fun?  Does the infliction of unnecessary pain and/or ending the existence of these animals rate no consideration at all?   If so, why does the Pope and Young Club call itself a “conservation” organization?  What does it hope to conserve and why?

The club’s mission statement declares that it is dedicated to “protect[ing] the future of our bowhunting heritage” (parsing that little syntactical chestnut must wait for another day…) as well as the “conservation and welfare of habitat and wildlife.”  Should we infer then that the club views bowhunting as the sole reason for conserving nature?  And does sponsoring a quest to kill dozens of animals dovetail with a conservation ethic even thus described?

The ethics page of the P&Y website offers no answers to these questions.  It quotes Aldo Leopold’s adage that “A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than a mob of onlookers.”  The P&Y page does not mention that Leopold also said: “[T]o acquire a reputation for killing limits is a doubtful compliment, at best.”

Leopold believed that “think[ing] like a mountain” involves understanding that animals exist for purposes other than hunting fodder.  Most memorably, he declared that: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”  In the aggregate, I read Leopold to be saying that hunting has a place in the scheme of things but that killing for its own sake or purely for fun seems per se wrong no matter the species of the victim.

For my part, I would add that writing a puff piece about the people who do it seems little better.  And that leads me to a related issue currently awaiting cert before the Supreme Court and about which I will post in the near future: Are depictions of animal cruelty protected speech?  Stay tuned.

David Cassuto