Keith Hammer

Enos Mills first called for protection of grizzly bears in his 1919 book “The Grizzly,” as he watched them being exterminated for Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and California. Not until 1973 would the U.S. pass the Endangered Species Act. In 1975, with less than a thousand grizzlies remaining mostly around Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, the lower 48 grizzlies were listed as protected under the ESA.

Now the governors of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho want grizzlies delisted from the ESA so they can get back to shooting them. With the Montana legislature looking untrustworthy while trying to pass more radical laws to shoot and trap wolves, Governor Gianforte urged the legislature to cool its jets until they get grizzlies delisted. Then it can pass laws that are more cruel to both wolves and grizzlies.

The most generous estimates say we have increased grizzly numbers in the lower 48 from 2% to 4% of what they were before we humans shot, trapped and poisoned most of them and stole their habitat. Now we want to call that sliver of an increase a full recovery of grizzlies so we can get back to shooting them and stealing more of their habitat. My, aren’t we generous!

Mills concludes “The destiny of the human race is intimately tied up with nature, and for anyone to misunderstand the simple facts which unite us with nature is to be out of harmony with the whole scheme of things.” Until our culture and governments wise up and show some true compassion and generosity to wildlife, grizzlies need the protection of the ESA.

Keith Hammer is chair of the Swan View Coalition

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