Disserving the Public Trust: Part 1
In this piece, Dr. David Mattson discusses major threats to democracy in the form of corruption and despotism, and ties these themes to grizzly bear management. State wildlife management in the region “is a corrupt and despotic system enslaved through culture and financial dependencies to serving the interests of those who have a worldview that features violence, iconizes weapons, makes fetishes of sexual organs, and instrumentalizes animals. Moreover, state wildlife managers have a history of demonizing carnivores in defiance of the best available science as part of a narrative that features killing predators to purportedly boost sport-hunting opportunities for ‘customers.'" Dr. Mattson concludes with a discussion of delisting and how the national public would be disenfranchised in the process.
Disserving the Public Trust: Part 2
Dr. Mattson begins this piece with a discussion on worldviews, which are not, he says, " some sort of concrete thing that we can unambiguously measure like we can, for example, the diameter of a tree. Nonetheless...it is quite easy to use any number of indices to build a reliable picture of this phenomenon for individuals or communities."
Dr. Mattson digs into the world views that dominate state management of grizzly bears and will shape what happens with delisting. These world views extol use and domination of nature, expressed through individual self-gratification. Dr. Mattson discusses the iconography of hunting in hunting-related magazines which feature white males with guns posed with animals bearing enlarged sex-linked horns and antlers. He discusses the attitudes of sexism that prevail in these magazines and state agencies. Dr. Mattson concludes with the observation that not all world views are equal, with those that are destructive, intolerant and violence-oriented, as codified in state wildlife management and today’s hunting culture, being the most problematic for a civil society.
The 26 million acres of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are managed by 23 different agencies. Since grizzlies cannot read maps, efforts to recover grizzly bears require effective coordination and a shared vision for recovery and coexistence among management agencies. This piece critiques coordination and management among managers of grizzly bears over the last 42 years, since grizzlies were listed under the Endangered Species Act.
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, formed shortly after grizzlies were listed, is often touted as a key reason that the status of grizzly bears has improved. But there is a major difference between appearance and reality, especially in recent years as political pressure mounted to strip protection for grizzlies both around Yellowstone and Glacier. This piece argues that the IGBC has been less effective than advertised, and that efforts to evaluate agency work must be improved to protect the broader public interest.
The Problem of State Wildlife Management: a Short Summary
One major problem with the recent stripping of protections for Yellowstone's grizzly bears--indeed for all remaining grizzly bear populations--is that management authority is returned to the states. The states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington have demonstrated through their pre-1975 management that they could not maintain healthy grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 states -- which was why the federal government had to step in. These same states have not fundamentally changed since 1975 when bears were listed. The primary goal of state wildlife management is still to provide a "harvestable surplus" of animals for hunters. The ethos is still one of domination, utilization, and objectification. By design and by function, state wildlife management caters to a minority of hunters and ranchers over the majority of the public that wants more bears in more places as a manifestation of true recovery.
The piece concludes with recommendations for reforming state wildlife management, through changes in finances, and broader representation of interests serving on state wildlife commissions and wildlife management advisory bodies.
States Prove Playground Bullies in Management of Grizzlies
State wildlife managers from Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho have dispelled any illusions about how they intend to treat grizzly bears after having wrested management control away from the federal government. Removal of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections was announced during July, 2017, and with that decision the states have made clear that they plan to go on a blood-letting binge involving the slaughter of hundreds of bears. They have long shown their thuggish nature in dealings with the public, including a profound lack of responsiveness to the majority of people who do not hunt or fish. State managers, most notably those representing Wyoming, have been the proverbial playground bullies and, unfortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has amply rewarded this nastiness by acquiescing to every demand.
This piece discusses how the states have disenfranchised women, minorities, and people of other races and creeds. It also discusses how the states can do a better job of responding to the legitimate diversity of public interests -- which is especially important because the constituency for grizzlies and other large carnivores is truly national.
Why Wyoming Thugs Should Not Be Trusted
The etymology of word “thug” is relevant to Wyoming's proposed management of Yellowstone grizzlies. The original “thags” were devotees of the goddess Kali who waylaid and murdered travelers in northern Indian up through the mid-1800’s, when they were suppressed by the British. Wyoming Game and Fish is a devotee of a different, yet related ethos that has proven no less deadly to people and animals. It sails under the colors of domination, use, and a blatant contempt for civility, democratic principles, and anyone who get in the way of profit – today, defined mostly by agriculture and energy corporations.
In this piece, which reflects 30 years of personal experience with Wyoming Game and Fish, I describe breathtaking instances of sexism, racism, and the unilateral dismissal of anyone who does not agree with a hunting, machismo orientation toward wildlife. At a recent hearing comment in Cody, for example, a true Thug was applauded when he said: “If we aren’t going to control these bears, we might as well give the land back to the Indians and sail back across the ocean.” Another commenter promised a return to “Shoot, Shovel, and Shut-up” behaviors if grizzly bears were not delisted.