Paul Rogers had a good piece in the Mercury News over the weekend about the “cultural shift” in California as evidenced by the uproar over a Fish and Game official’s killing of a mountain lion in Idaho.
Rogers writes that the shift is a “profound change involving urban and rural, old and young, red and blue — in which the traditional political power of hunters and fishermen is in steady decline while environmentalists and animal rights groups have grown in influence.”
Rogers talked to Bill Gaines, president of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, a hunting advocacy group in Sacramento. “Today 80 percent of Californians live in urban areas,” said Gaines. “When I grew up north of Stockton in the 1960s and 70s, I was literally born with a BB gun in one hand and a fishing pole in another. All my friends were like that. Today, through no fault of their own, people are not raised in that lifestyle.”
If you’re looking for one illustration of the attitudinal difference between hunters and those made squeamish by their activities, take a look at this promotional video from the Flying B Ranch, where Fish and Game Commission President Dan Richards’ killing of a cougar has landed him in hot water with Democratic legislators and animal advocates. The Chronicle’s Politics Blog posted the video last week.
Animal lovers will most likely not appreciate the images of a treed mountain lion being shot and falling to the ground, where its teeth are displayed for the camera — all to the sounds of thrashing guitar music. Nor would they enjoy the next segment, in which three hunters excitedly discuss, in subtitles, their impending kill of a black bear, culminating with a “Shoot it now! Shoot it now!” Cut to the shot bear tumbling over, cut to vigorous handshakes among the men, and cut to the obligatory trophy photo.
This complete lack of sentimentality concerning some wild animals can also be seen in Lauren Sommer’s post about the lone wolf (called OR7) that has been hanging around the California-Oregon border, delighting some wildlife watchers but not necessarily all interested parties…
For several weeks…wildlife officials have attended a number of public meetings about California’s wolf. In the state’s northern counties, the reaction has been vocal.
“The protection afforded something that doesn’t belong here in the first place doesn’t make any sense,” says Susanville resident Len Grizwold. Says another resident: “Be cautious, folks. They’re here to tell you there’s nothing to worry about.”
The reception from county supervisor and rancher Bob Pyle isn’t any warmer. “I really don’t care what it is. If it’s killing my cattle, I’m gonna kill it,” he says.
Similarly, that post has been receiving a lot of comments like these (which seem to be coming from mostly out of state):
Haze that mutt back to Idaho….we’ll solve your wondering wolf problem. If you people let this thing back into your state, you’re nuts. ————————————————————————————————————————- OR7 is a cattle killing machine…His litter mate OR9 was recently killed in Idaho near a feed lot. These wolves have a taste for cattle…I cannot understand why people are celebrating this wolf. We have LOTS of evidence of what this guy is capable of ————————————————————————————————————————- My suggestion to those of you in the area this wolf is roaming, is to do whatever possible to stop the non native Yukon wolf from ever infecting your state. California hasn’t the wildlife buffer the other states had, and humans will bare the brunt of the impacts. ————————————————————————————————————————- There was a reason why wolves where killed 80 years ago. When families had to live off ONE milk cow, one or two cattle for beef. Losing your livestock to wolves means starving. Who would you have chosen 80 years ago? Your food, or glorify the wolf…Talk to people who are affected by wolves instead of subscribing blindly to Non-Profit newsletters with a link to your Credit Card. ————————————————————————————————————————- …if you hurt the FAKE ENDANGERED YUKON wolves you are going to jail cause we all know in todays American a worthless disease spreading predator is more important then working Americans
Is this an antipathy borne merely of economic interest? Or is it something else?
If you’ve ever seen Werner Herzog’s documentary Grizzly Man, chronicling the adventures of a guy who traveled to Alaska to interact closely with bears, only to be killed by one of them, you might assess the protagonist’s attitude as the most extreme kind of anthropomorphic folly.
But Ed Bangs, the recently retired wolf recovery coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, says that kind of projection of human attributes onto animals cuts the other way too:
“You have to remember wolves and wolf management has nothing to do with reality,” he told Lauren Sommer. “I mean we can give you facts, you know, all the biology stuff. That isn’t what people talk about. They’re talking about what wolves mean to them symbolically.”
By the way, Susan Moore of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told Sommeer that if anyone kills the wolf, it’s “a $100,000 fine or a year in jail, or both.”