Viewpoint: Grizzly delisting tragedy to farce
Human intolerance, malevolence and habitat destruction spanning two centuries has caused the extermination of grizzly bears over 99% of its historical range.
Grizzly bears were finally listed as a threatened species in 1975 under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Dark and deadly forces have gathered political momentum and vow to delist grizzly bears, turning management over to the states. By removing ESA protection, states could sell hunting licenses to trophy hunters. Ranchers could shoot without fear of serious legal repercussions.
Large, relatively secure core landscapes like national parks, designated Wilderness areas and de facto wilderness (“roadless areas” on federal, public land) provide grizzlies the greatest chance at long-term viability.
For decades state and federal bureaucrats, extractive industry lobbyists, and anti-environmental politicians who dominate the Washington gerontocracy have fiercely resisted grizzly bear recovery efforts.
The purpose of the ESA as it applies to grizzlies is to protect the imperiled remnant population and fully recover and maintain healthy, self-sustaining populations in the coterminous 48 states.
Much more action is needed to protect, restore, and reconnect the fragmented ecosystems upon which grizzlies depend so they can re-occupy a significant portion of their original range. Of course, this is far from the real, on-the-ground situation grizzly bears find themselves in today.
Delisting is premature, by a long shot. States lust for blood-money (license fees).
It's hard to imagine a more ludicrous conceit than delisting grizzly bears, who hang onto life by a thread on 1% of their original range. Colonization of the Northern Rockies is a continuation of the same empire-expanding activities of the 19th Century. We have not yet entered America’s post-colonial era.
Grizzly bears will never genuflect to the absurd quasi-Christian cognitive theories of Old-Testament dominion and chosen-people doctrine. The millennia-old institutionalized religious discrimination that inflames our world today also drives the infantile theatrics of indiscriminate harm to wildlife. “Wasting,” or “smoking” wildlife is adult psychopathy growing in popularity.
Popularity and ‘success,’ which fuels modern moral relativism and situational ethics has turned our world upside-down. Even so, what moral imperative or social norm can one cite to justify killing a grizzly bear and selling its parts?
Radical, ‘literalist’ religious doctrine has abandoned the search for truth and moral tradition in exchange for financial favors from the ruling elite. The age-old ideology of rationalization is used to justify personal and societal indulgence in certain kinds of pleasure – in this case the commercialization, torment, and slaughter of God’s divine creation.
Tearing up wildlife habitat and domesticating Mother Nature’s gifts traces back to the vulgarization and distortion of ideas advanced by the great philosophies of Hagel, Nietzsche and Marx that encouraged reactionary pre-WWII European forms of nihilism and fascism.
From whence will the promise of wisdom emerge to fight the foolishness of ‘white’ onslaught bent on engulfing and uprooting the grizzly’s ancestral birthright?
One bill in Congress, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (S-1531), would significantly improve the level of habitat protection needed to maintain grizzly viability throughout a significant portion of its range.
S-1531 is a science-based bill that would designate 23 million acres of roadless, ecologically important public lands in the Northern Rockies bioregion. It designates much needed biological linkage corridors, reconnecting core habitat areas.
Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of the ESA.
It’s time for family, friends, local conservation groups and your Senator to STOP grizzly bear delisting, and support S-1531.
Steve Kelly is an artist and environmental activist. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.