OPINION — Jane Goodall is, without question, a great woman. You’ve probably heard of Jane, being as how she’s world-famous, and all. She’s pretty much considered the planet’s leading authority on primate behavior. She spent years and years and years in Tanzania, studying primates, particularly chimpanzees. The time Jane spent with chimps in the jungle advanced human understanding of primates more than just about anything else has. It also apparently made her kind of nutty, which is understandable. Most great people are a little nutty.
Cynthia Moss is also a great woman, and she’s also famous. Cynthia spent years in eastern Africa fighting elephant poachers, which is definitely a note-worthy pursuit. The poachers kill elephants just for their ivory, which is a really scuzbucket thing to do. Cynthia is also a little nutty, which is probably an asset, when you’re fighting elephant poachers.
My hat’s off to both these great women, for the amazing lives they’ve led, and the fantastic things they’ve accomplished. Without people like Jane and Cynthia the world would be a dismal place. I can also identify with their nuttiness, which proves you don’t have to be great to be a nut. But that doesn’t mean I agree with them on everything.
Jane and Cynthia have joined up with a bunch of other nutty people who are opposed to the grizzly bear hunt planned by Wyoming’s wildlife commission. Grizzly bear numbers have grown to the point where they need to be controlled, according to authorities, so wildlife officials decided to hold a lottery and sell 22 grizzly permits for use this fall. But a lot of people don’t agree with wildlife authorities, and don’t want any of the bears killed. So they developed a plan.
The plan is get as many of their cronies as possible to apply for grizzly permits, thereby swamping the Wyoming grizzly bear lottery. They want to try to obtain all the permits, or as many as possible, and then not use them, so the bears won’t get shot. Which is a great plan, short-term. The problem is that it was devised by nuts.
Applying for a grizzly permit costs about twenty bucks, but if drawn, the recipient has to pay the state $602 if he or she is a Wyoming resident, or $6002 if he or she is a non-resident. So these folks are willing to shell out some pretty big bucks to keep the bears alive, which is admirable. It’s also a slight paradigm shift, since almost all funds that help wildlife in any way have previously come from hunters. I have to admit I really like the idea of non-hunters helping foot the bill for wildlife preservation, for a change.
But it won’t work, long-term, and it may end up costing more in failure than it saves in success.
The people who make decisions on how many grizzly bears constitute a viable population, compatible with the human residents of Wyoming, have decided it’s necessary to cull 22 bears this year. If those bears aren’t culled, and the grizzly population grows, then more bears will need to be culled next year, say 30, to even things up. If they award 22 permits this year, and only ten bears are killed, they may decide to award more permits in following years than the number of bears they want killed. If they want 30 bears killed, they may issue 40 permits, to make sure 30 are removed from the population. Simple math.
I don’t think Jane and Cynthia and the others who are opposed to the hunt have considered this, but I could be wrong. It may be that they’re hoping to keep the bears from being killed long enough that their opinions will permeate the ranks of the Wyoming wildlife commission. If that happens the hunts can be cancelled indefinitely. And that may work, at least up to the point where members of the Wyoming wildlife commission are being killed and eaten by grizzly bears.
There is also the fact that, barring a takeover of the Wyoming wildlife commission by bear huggers, these permits will continue to be issued, because grizzly bears tend to kill and eat whatever they want. Wildlife experts have studied the situation and determined that, unless some of the grizzlies are removed, not only will people be in danger of attack, but the bears are liable to kill too many other animals and upset the entire ecosystem. And grizzlies, being grizzlies, are pretty much at the top of the food chain.
So, even if the bear lovers manage to draw ALL the grizzly permits this year, and next year, and the year after, etc., there will eventually come a point where the Wyoming wildlife commission will decide the grizzlies have to be taken out. Then they’ll hire people to go kill some of the bears. And those people will be paid with state wildlife funds, which could otherwise be used for other wildlife projects. That’s where the cost comes in.
The point is that, good intentions notwithstanding, Jane and Cynthia and the rest of their kind are not actually saving the bears. What they’re doing is making themselves feel good, while keeping some other people from engaging in an activity they enjoy. Which is pretty much what being a liberal is all about.
Hunting is not just a conservation tool. It is THE most important conservation tool we have, because of the money it raises for wildlife. Until the nuts understand that, they will continue to be an albatross around the necks of the wildlife they claim to love . . .