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.

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail