The Wyoming Grizzly Hunt and the Virtue Signaling of Animal Rights Activists
As I have discussed on this page many times, the real world is nuanced. Human beings like simple solutions to problems so that we can carve our reality into simple little boxes that we can label with words like; good, bad, right, wrong, conservative, liberal, etc., etc. Unfortunately for us, Mother Nature, God, the forces of the universe, whatever you want to call it, doesn’t play by our rules or feels the need to make things easy for us. Therefore, it’s probably best we just roll with it, put in the extra time that’s needed to learn about something and then think critically about it. Making decisions based off of how you might feel about something without gathering data is going to lead to a lot of bad decision making.
Which leads us to the topic of the day, something else I’ve said many, many times: beware the man who hates the coyote too much and equally, beware the man who loves the coyote too much. Now, I’m picking on the coyote here, but this could really apply to any apex predator such as wolves, grizzly bears, mountain lions, etc. The man who wants to kill every wolf is equally as foolish as the man who thinks there’s no justification for killing one ever, or, both the idiot hunter (I hate to say it, but they exist) and the animal rights activist.
Recently, a few animal rights activists made nationwide news by claiming they had won one of the few grizzly bear tags handed out in Wyoming this year. They claim they are only bringing their cameras and not using that tag to kill a bear, therefore showing their great virtue to the world. There are only a couple problems with this. First of all, it shows an ignorance of our wildlife management system. A tag does not equate to a kill nor is it a guarantee of harvest. Many hunters get tags every year that are not filled, we refer to this as “tag soup” because that is all that we have to eat that year. This particular tag for grizzlies in Wyoming has one more layer to it: there’s a quota. Once the quota is met, even if you have a valid tag, your hunt is over. The good folks at Wyoming Fish and Game are looking to limit the number of bears taken to a very small number, just to manage the population in their area.
The second problem with this is that these folks are doing almost nothing to help grizzly bears or other animals. The cost of their tag will help fund conservation, which is more than what most animal rights activists are willing to pay for. However, what they’re really doing is nothing more than signaling to the rest of the world, “look at me! I’m a good person!”. It’s narcissistic and selfish, it’s not pro-animal by any means. It’s about them, not the animal.
I do hope they bring bear spray and perhaps lay off the lavender-honey body spray.
Even if you disagree with hunting as “sport”, and I hate to use that term, but even if that’s your position, there should be plenty of gray area still. Farmers or ranchers killing wolves to protect their livestock for example, though I imagine there are some omnivores out there who do oppose this, in spite of the fact they’d complain about the rising cost of beef should those cows not be protected. This argument, obviously, will not sway the habitat destroying, bug killing animal rights activists (assuming they all drive cars and live in houses).
However, on the flip side, is the angry hunter who takes his wildlife management philosophy from early Metallica, “kill ‘em all!” they cry. These people will cite statistics about calving rates and how wolves are “killing all the deer” and yet, most of them still put meat in the freezer every year. Wolves were reintroduced to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) in the 1990s and there is still plenty of good hunting in the GYE. Have they had an impact? Absolutely. There are studies that say the entire ecosystem is better off because the elk and deer are now not overgrazing the area and several other factors. There are studies who don’t quite go so far as well, but I have yet to see a study (doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist) that says wolf reintroduction was awful and a terrible idea. The only folks I hear say that are this small group of hunters.
I believe that predators need to be managed by state fish and game agencies and the US Fish and Wildlife Service just like all other game animals. I’m okay with wolves and grizzlies sharing the landscape with me. In fact, I can’t wait to see my first wild wolf or grizzly and I keep hoping every time I go to Alaska that this time will be the time. I am not a great hunter, but if I am going to become a great hunter, then I need to compete against the best and that means natural predators other than blaze orange wearing dudes shooting 6.5 Creedmoor.
Maybe you don’t fall into the exact same spot on this issue (or some other issue) as I do. That’s okay. There are a lot of respectable places to land in the middle. It shows you’ve thought about the issue. However, I just don’t have a lot of time or respect for those on the two extremes, of this issue, or most others.