Just to post something for while I’m out of town – a brown bear photo from the grizzlies in the Fall photo tour. Edit: Well, I had initially posted this ahead of schedule, planning on being out of town this week. However, 7″ of snow and more on the way put paid to my motivation to drive through the Chugach Mountains to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, so I’m still in town. Maybe next week I’ll get gone.
On to things that matter.
The inspiration behind this post is this rather unfortunate piece. An excerpt:
Conservative preacher Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association writes “One human being is worth more than an infinite number of grizzly bears. Another way to put it is that there is no number of live grizzlies worth one dead human being.”
I wonder if he feels the same way about, say, cigarettes, or motor vehicles. Even something as commonplace as fast food diets are responsible for far more human ill health than any grizzly bear (or grizzly bear population) ever has been. When he cries for their riddance, he’ll have some integrity.
He goes on (and on); “If it’s a choice between grizzlies and humans, the grizzlies have to go. And it’s time.”
More ignorance. It’s already BEEN time, Mr Fischer. Grizzly bears were virtually wiped out, via human hands, from the vast majority of their former range years ago. Lots of years ago. From the US F&Ws website; “…. in the early 1800s, an estimated 50,000 grizzly bears roamed between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Plains, across vast stretches of open and unpopulated land …… Today, with the western United States inhabited by millions of Americans, only a few small corners of grizzly country remain, supporting about 1,200 – 1,400 wild grizzly bears. Of 37 grizzly populations present in 1922, 31 were extirpated by 1975.”
In other words, we’ve reduced the grizzly bear population to 2.8% of its former estimate. We can thank the Endangered Species Act, the good folks at US F&WS and and the resilient grizzly bear for this. When the great bear was listed threatened under the ESA in 1975, fewer than 1000 grizzly bears roamed the Lower 48 states. So, through conservation and legislation and one hardy critter, the population has risen from 2% to 2.8% of what it once was. I doubt we can thank crackpots making commentary like his above.
Do grizzly bears really “have to go”? Go where? They are, for all practical purposes, gone. Today, “In the lower 48 states of the United States, the Grizzly Bear has been extirpated from 98% of its original range. It has also been extirpated from the prairie and boreal plains in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Historical range once extended eastward to Ontario, Ohio, and Kentucky and southward to Mexico. In the north, the range may have extended as far as Labrador.” (Source: Lethbridge college)
In response to a separate article, where reporter Julie Cart notes that 48 bears have died from human causes thus far this year while only two people have been killed by bears, Fischer goes on:
“Ms. Cart continues her angst-ridden piece by making a statement that is ludicrous on its face:
“With more bears and more people stuffed into the 22,000 square miles of bear habitat, something has to give, and no one here has a simple answer.”
Of course there is a simple answer: shoot these man-eaters on sight.”
.. and on …
” … God makes it clear in Scripture that deaths of people and livestock at the hands of savage beasts is a sign that the land is under a curse. The tragic thing here is that we are bringing this curse upon ourselves.“
No, Mr Fischer, the tragic ‘thing’ here is that people will actually read what you wrote and maybe give it some credence. Stupidity is a curse. And lying is a sin. For example “the carnage continues because of a benighted ruling by a federal court. Putting the grizzlies back on the “threatened” list means a human being can hardly shoot one of these as he is bearing down on his family without facing federal charges:”
Ignoring the theatrical stylings of his writing (“carnage”? 2 people killed in one year?) this statement simply isn’t true. The Endangered Species Act does not at all deny anyone the right to defend human life. Now, if that same grizzly bear is bearing down on your trash can, or eating the bird seed you left out, no, you are not granted the right to shoot the bear. Defense of property is not protected under the ESA. Defense of Life, however, is.
If people weren’t so stupid and deceitful as Mr Fischer here, grizzly bears in the Lower 48 states might have a chance at a decent recovery and existence. That anyone would, in this day and age, perpetuate the childish mythologies from fairytales like Little Red Riding Hood and Goldie Locks is unfathomable. I simply don’t understand why anyone would carry on like this.
Note also, Mr Fischer refers to grizzly bears as ‘man-eaters’. There is not a single documented, or even anecdotal, instance of a grizzly bear becoming any kind of habitual ‘man-eater’. These creatures are not the famed Lions of Tsavo, or Bengal Tigers of the Indian jungles. Even the most famous of “rogue grizzly bears” in the fables and tales of the American West, bears like Old Mose, Three Toes and Old Bigfoot, of Leopold’s Escudilla essay, were cattle and sheep killers. Not man eaters. In fact, in one of the 2 instances Fischer refers to, the grizzly bear didn’t eat anyone at all, though it did kill a man who deliberately approached it as it regathered consciousness after being tranquilized by researchers (uuhhmm .. Hello??? If one plays with fire …….). But the bear, after killing the fellow, didn’t eat him at all; grizzly bears rarely feed on humans (thank goodness).
I know bears are dangerous. I’ve had my share of run-ins with both grizzlies and black bears, and will likely have more in the future. But I WANT to live in a world where creatures like the great grizzly bear roam free, where mountains are precipitous and wolves howl in the dark. It makes life a little more like life and a lot less like a spectator sport.
The bear below? One of the biggest bears I’ve seen. He and one other male in the area seem to be the 2 dominant bears of the area; all the other bears deferred to them. Between the 2 of them, neither gave a quarter. But this one was much more fun to photograph; he was far more forgiving and patient of my approach – I suppose if ‘shoot on site’ includes with a camera, I’m all for it.
With November well upon us, the bears are about done with their prowling and are about ready for their hibernation. Still, they’re not all in bed yet, as a kid in Seward, Alaska found out last week when he was mauled a little and roughed up by a sow he stumbled upon. Fortunately, the kid wasn’t hurt, and the bear, cubs in tow, fled. Neither the kid or his mother felt a need to adopt a ‘shoot on site‘ strategy to deal with the carnage.
I hope you enjoy this photo.