FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Grizzlies Symbolize Transformation, and Challenge Us to Transform Governance

Photo by  Roger Hayden

Photo by  Roger Hayden

Bears are up and about again, a living announcement of spring. With their miraculous ability to hibernate, bears have always symbolized transformation and renewal (link). A mother bear seemingly dies in winter, interred in the earth, only to re-emerge with new life in the spring. The process is a mystery which scientists do not yet fully understand — as perhaps it should be.   

Transformation is a central issue, because our society, as well as perhaps the rest of life on Earth, needs us to abandon our technocratic despotism –which leaves everybody but an elite, empowered few largely excluded from decisions that affect us all.

Apropos of transformation, we have seen a softening of our relationship with large carnivores, including grizzly bears, during the last half-century. Without protections offered by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), wolves and grizzlies would likely have disappeared from the contiguous United States.

But, even after 40 years of protection, grizzlies still occupy just 3% of their former range (link). Worse, bears have been relegated to ecological islands. Vulnerability to inbreeding as well as climate-driven deterioration of habitat predictably follows. We can and must do better.

The Surprising Speed of Change

Our relationships with bears and other wildlife can, in fact, change quickly. It took only 60 years during the late-1800s and early-1900s for European settlers to wipe out grizzlies in 97% of their former range — leaving only five remnant populations, with most grizzlies relegated to islands in and around Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Armed with guns and Bibles, settlers eradicated anything and anybody that got in the way of “progress,” including peoples who had been here thousands of years — and had coexisted with grizzlies who they still see as relatives, healers and guides.

More recently we have seen a remarkable and more benevolent shift. After wreaking havoc on ecosystems throughout the world, people have begun to rediscover their empathy for the “wild other.” Passed in 1973, the ESA codified this shift in values.

Progress Toward Recovery

With the implementation of ESA protections in 1975, grizzly bear numbers have increased (link), along with occupancy of habitat south and west of Yellowstone Park and south and east of Glacier. Venturesome bears are showing with their paws that our current fragmented populations can be reconnected.

The most promising linkages between Yellowstone’s long-isolated grizzlies and their kin to the north runs through Central Idaho’s vast wildlands (see map below). Grizzlies once flourished in this remote wilderness, but were extirpated by hunters, miners, and sheep-herders with a genocidal attitude.

More articles by:

Louisa Willcox is a longtime grizzly bear activist and founder of Grizzly Times. She lives in Montana.

July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail