|?FocusWest > Predators >|
Transcript: Living with predators
Jim Peck: Do we need to restrict people or manage these cats better?
Dean Miller: One of the things we found working on the book was that there's some really smart answers out there already. The Hornacker Institute talks about sort of concentric rings, there are places cougars don't belong. I talked about that earlier. When you've got cougars in downtown Spokane, downtown Salt Lake, all of the cities of the west, Olympia Washington, you name it. They don't belong there, they're not endangered those ought to be eliminated. I'm sorry for people who think we should use non-lethal, but it makes no sense. There are places where people don't belong. I mean I, I think with all due respect to the ranchers there are places where if you move in and set up horse corrals in steep country riparian zones where there's a fair number of deer, you're moving into cougar country, that's a risk you should take and I frankly don't think the government has any responsibility to protect you from that. That's too bad for you. You had the choice to be there, you weren't forced onto that spot, too bad. So that's the, that's the trick that we're coming to now is the public needs to give the agencies some leeway to solve these problems and they need to support them in doing the sensible thing and I think where it needs to start is wildlife groups need to stop talking about cougars as if they're endangered. They are not! It absolutely is not a fact, this was formerly the most widespread land animal in the country in what we now know as the U.S. They were hunted back to about 12 states and they're re-colonizing eastward at the rate, as far as I can tell of about two states a year, it's incredible. You know we went from 300,000 white tailed deer in this country when Teddy Roosevelt sort of kicked off the conservation revolution. There are now like what is it 350 million where there are deer there will be cougars. You move there and put your horses in you're going to lose horses and I don't think that cougar ought to die for that. If a cougar comes in and starts being threatening, habituated yeah, but yeah, but the whole management of the urban area is, is fascinating it's different from, from many of the other species because cougars tend to tolerate interaction with human activity a lot better than other predators at least as far as we know right now. They have actually done some collaring studies on how cougars interact and it's fascinating. I mean they're, this area in Santa Ana there were cougars that sat three feet from a bicycle and hiking trail all day, never bothered anybody, people had no idea they were there. There, there's one story like that of a grizzly bear and I think it was Libby or something, but among predators it's kind of unusual they, they do pretty well in the suburbs a lot of food there, because people build their yards in Boise and those subdivision you know not for your view and my view, not your view, up in the south of the foothills. They're all great deer habitat now, because they water the heck out of it, they grow all these bushes that were never there before. The deer and the cougars are coming. Whose fault is that?
Chuck Schwarz: The issue isn't particular to cougars it, it, its pervasive with all large predators and I honestly believe that large carnivores will live in the west where humans choose to let them live. And we will eliminate them from the places where we don't think their suitable. In the notion that, that large carnivores should not live in developed communities I think is appropriate, and there are places where we don't want large carnivores. We don't want grizzly bears in downtown Cody for example. We don't want cougars in our backyards particularly. But the issue is as the west develops and as this wildland urban interface, particularly the urban interface expands then the conflicts between carnivores and people are going to amplify and that's really where the issues of conservation in the future are going to settle. The people that deal with carnivore bear people wolf livestock problems they're jobs are going to get worse and worse and worse. They're on a treadmill and they can never stop. If they do they're going to fall right off the back. And as we have new people colonize the west or move in from other places that don't know the rules of the road for example, how to live in bear country. How to you know not put your garbage on the back porch because that's what you did your entire life when you lived back east and you didn't have to worry about. Not feed birds in the summer, or if you're going to have small domestic livestock chickens and so on, go ahead and protect 'em with electric fence. If they don't know the rules of the road they come in and they're unaware of the problems that they potentially cause. And you know for grizzly bears for example, once they learn about human foods for example, they become chronic problems and you know we were talking earlier about whether or not lethal means were appropriate or not. Well I think it depends on the species of carnivore and the situation. And for example, a fed bear is considered a dead bear and that adage is real because once bears become habituated to food they become chronic problems, and they become more brazen, more bold and eventually they're going to damage property or worse yet injure or kill an individual. And so lethal mechanisms are probably the one way we have to deal with those bears, but it's unfortunate because the bear pays the price, the bears the animal that dies, but it's not what caused the problem, it's people and people not knowing how to live or not being willing to live compatibly with wildlife in the west, and that's what it's really going to take, it's an exchange. You know I think we can have a system where we can live and have wildlife in our backyards if we do it right, if we do it wrong, the wildlife will pay the price.
Jim Peck: Tom Parker, you have worked a lot with mountain lions; is it reasonable to expect that we can live with them in this sense? And how afraid of them should we be?
Tom Parker: Well the answer to your first question is absolutely we can live with them and by and large mountain lions have a, a high natural aversion to human beings and its you know one out of you know, you know 999 cougars and usually young individuals that have not learned to hunt effectively that will present a problem in terms of conflicts with humans and show aggression towards humans or try to predate and we need to be and we can very effectively you know deal with those individuals because they are vulnerable to capture and being killed and basically eliminate that problem and the rest of 'em can go about their business. And I, I'd just like to add that locally you know in the area I live which is has relatively a small amount of private land acreage and most of it public land and private timber company land and historically one of the highest mountain lion densities in north America. We are in the process of seeing that timberland converted from timber use to private land development which is just feeding right into the hand of this problem that you're talking about.
Jim Peck: You're talking about a lack of run-ins between people and mountain lions and what kind of lions do this. And yet people I've talked to, some of the folks in this room have said, You know, we've talked about wolves and grizzlies, but the ones you've got to watch out for are mountain lions because they'll come up behind you, they'll get you, they'll stalk you. Like he was saying they've been three feet from running paths. How do you evaluate that with not really worrying about 'em too much?
Tom Parker: Well, what I would say is that potential of running into the lion whose aversion has broken down exists, but the, the fact of the matter is that these lions are and the bulk of the population has interaction with humans on a regular basis and makes no attempt to cause them harm and because that's the way they're wired, they're kind of wired that way, but there are individuals if that breaks down and for whatever reason they will key into a human being and it, it doesn't happen that commonly, but when it does you can effectively deal with that individual, with their vulnerable to capture, with trained hounds and experienced hunters.
Jim Peck: And just if it's a problem take 'em out?
Tom Parker: Exactly.
Kent McAdoo: During the course of our conversation we've heard a lot of terms like ecosystem management, ecosystem integrity thinking holistically, managing holistically, terms like keeping all the tools in the toolbox. I think when we think about ecosystem management, we've got to realize that humans are part of that equation. And particularly when we're dealing with these large predators. When you come to a predator, well when we talk about control of these predators whether its non-lethal or lethal control or using sport hunting, all of those are viable tools and it is going to be specific to the situation. With a predator like mountain lions they are much more adaptable than for example the grizzly bears. I've personally been in a situation where I watched my son being stalked to within about 30 feet of an adult mountain lion, that was the exception, not the rule and I was able to scare him away. But I think we have to realize that all these things have their place in this ecosystem management, we've got to, we've got to, we are managing and that's a dirty word to some people, but as humans we have always managed our environments, actively, passively, sometimes more aggressively, sometimes less aggressively, but we are here because we're talking about managing for these large predators. We've got to keep in mind that, that there's going to be times when, and I've personally had experience for example with both the lethal and non-lethal predator control mechanisms with coyotes around sheep. Ranchers for their part have done a great job of adapting, especially sheep ranchers to using non-lethal control. But there's sometimes when those flat don't work and you have to take out the problem animal. That can be done without sacrificing the integrity of the ecosystem.
Amaroq Weiss: In terms of what the public can do, because there's been another gentlemen on this panel that's a couple of times mentioned to the viewing public things that they could do. This is another area where there are actually a lot of programs in many communities that are joint efforts between conservation groups, state agencies and federal agencies to teach the public how to live safely with carnivores. There's a whole set of programs that have been set up in Idaho, Washington and Oregon. There are some that are beginning California, certainly in other western states I imagine those are happening as well. They're advertised if the public doesn't know specifically about them, they can contact their state agency or federal agency or local conservation group to find out. And these are really valuable programs they include experts who speak to the public, get slide shows on how to live safely with bears, mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, any of the general predators for their region. They're really informative, it teaches people about bringing livestock in at night and not leaving pet food bowls out at night, the bird feeder, all of these things that are really common sense, pretty simple things in most cases, but people just don't know. So I would urge the viewing public to check into that in their own locale.
Chuck Schwartz: You know one of the things I think it's important to put into perspective because we've seen it said a couple times in earlier is the real threat here. Carnivores are large animals and are capable of killing people. But if you really look at the death rate in the, you know society from carnivores it's nothing, they're probably more people are killed by our own species in Los Angeles each day, than are killed by grizzly bears. Since Yellowstone National Park was created more than 100 years ago there's only been five people in the entire history of the park that have been killed by grizzly bears for example. You're 20 times more likely to drowned if you visit Yellowstone. You're five times, or four times more likely to be scalded in a thermal area. You're just as likely to be murdered by another human being. And you know we tend to focus on the fact that large carnivores are capable of killing us, but the instances of that are so rare. I mean we take a, we take a bigger chance, I took a bigger chance getting in my automobile and driving to the airport to come to this show today than I will ever take hiking in grizzly bear habitat. And I think it's the same for cougars certainly it's true for wolves because wolves typically don't you know harm humans, but, but we don't think about that. We focus on it sporting magazines for example always have the big snarly grizzly bear and the blood and the you know everything associated with that. There's an awful lot of hype associated with what these carnivores really do. They're not blood thirsty, if given the chance they would just as soon avoid us and the statistics prove that out.
Jennifer Ellis: I guess the thing that concerns me, it sounds like defacto expansion of Yellowstone Park, and when within the park range yes there hasn't been that many, but now you're going to add a whole new demographic to that by the buffer zones and the linkage corridors. And as a private property owner I get really concerned when we had a really disappointing ruling out of the 9th District circuit this year, when Judge Winmill said that wolves have first right of passage on private ground within the Sawtooth National Rec area. Well that started to break down private property rights right there. So if, if you all get these linkages and we have all of this great buffer zones that are added to it are we going to lose all of our private property rights and statistics are all well and good until its your kid that's eaten by one of these carnivores.
Bill Wall: Jim, I think one of the things that we, we haven't talked about yet, we've talked about private lands and human interaction, etc. One of the key issues I think that exists though is taking a look at this thing at a system level. We did hear something about ecosystem management. We've got to look at the prey base that exists that maintains these carnivore populations throughout the west. And the interaction of humans with those prey bases as well as the carnivores with those prey bases. And when you look at where the funding comes from for Fish and Games agencies to both manage these prey bases, which are ungulates, which are elk and deer primarily as well as the carnivore populations, it's the hunters who are paying for that. And one of the issues that we have to look at is a balance, as we manage these carnivore populations with maintaining good healthy productive prey bases, elk and deer populations as well. Because if we lose that hunting tradition, my question is, who's going to pay for all of this? It's hunters who've paid for it traditionally.
Jim Peck: Anybody else see? Who would pay for this?
Tom Parker: Well, I'd just like to take that line of thinking a few steps further in that in order to have the healthy prey populations we need a healthy land base and a healthy ecological base and from watersheds and soil systems to rangelands and forestlands and we right now have largely impaired an impaired ecological base. And we will not in the long-term have to worry about the predators or the prey base in their condition long-range unless we begin to restore and rehabilitate the base in which these animals thrive, the plant communities and so forth and, and begin to work on the, those issues of integrity of the ecological base.
Jim Peck: Is everybody okay with the idea that we're talking about maintaining habitat, we're talking about maintaining a prey base so that we have predators? Is anybody in here okay with the idea of just getting rid of these predators? I mean totally gone?
Crosby Allen: Yeah, absolutely. They've been gone once for a reason, but they weren't ever really gone, and they didn't reintroduce wolves into Wyoming, into the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, they introduced an exotic species out of Canada. We had wolves there, there was sighting after sighting and these scientists know damn good and well that I'm telling the truth. We had wolves. We had grizzly bears. They were kept at a level to, to sustain the way of life that our culture desired, but they were never eliminated and I, I'll suggest to you that they can never be eliminated.
Jim Peck: Agree with the elimination issue?
Carter Niemeyer: Well, I was just going to comment that the wolf population was not viable in the lower 48 states except in the Midwest area. And the gray wolf that we reintroduced from Canada is the gray wolf, it is one species, it is not an exotic species that's been brought into Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. And as far as those animals existing there perhaps were individual animals perhaps in the Wyoming area, the Yellowstone area, but it wasn't viable and they weren't reproducing and that's the reason they were brought in.
Dean Miller: I think the, the overarching question is that when Teddy Roosevelt, I keep coming back to Teddy, but I love Teddy, when the conservation movement started, the idea was that we were sort of these zookeepers. We were stewards of scarce wild animals that were way the hell off in the back country and the fact is that now you really, there is no such thing as a separate human and wild world, those, those two worlds are colliding on the edges of all these western cities. And the question again I keep going back to you, but the question to you is what are you willing to give up? Because it's a really easy myth to say that I can send my money to the Sierra Club or I can send it to the Defenders or I can send it to the Nature Conservancy or whoever and I've taken care of the problem, but the fact is you are the problem. I mean Julia Butterfly was pretty interesting when she tied herself up in a redwood and protected that tree and what I'm waiting for is somebody who ties themself up at the end of a subdivision and, and talks about the fact that suburban soccer moms are the problem. People who want to put their kids in a safe nice neighborhood are developing all this habitat and it really is not somebody else's problem anymore it's everybody's problem. We focus on the ranchers, and the loggers and the miners and there's a lot they can do. But the fact is all of us are making decisions that are costly to these critters. We want to drive fast, we want to get to Yellowstone Park and then we want to scoot over to Butte for some, I don't know what it is. But we have to make those decisions and I think the fact is, the world is changing. We've gone from an era of conservation and stewardship to an era in which we have to co-exist and this is why we wrote the book about cougars because like somebody said here, it's a different question. They come right in around town and they force folks who don't usually deal with wildlife questions to ask themselves am I willing to be a little less safe and have this critter in the world? And it's a very real question. Yeah there aren't a lot of attacks, but a lot of those statistics are a canard, if you took the number of people who went to the wildlands in a year and calculated the attack rate, it's not like calculating lighting strikes or bee stings, bees are everything. But if you just take the number of people who went into bear or cougar habitat it's a fairly high rate. It's still you still are taking a lot more risk driving your car, but we haven't run advertisements on TV constantly saying you know beware in cougar country, take some precautions. When we get to the point of doing that then we'll be having a real discussion with real voters about living amongst predators and they'll making a decision based on some facts. Right now we pretend that they're out there away, they're not, they're here all that habitat stuff is happening on the edges of every town that people live in.
Aaron Miles: Yeah, I think what's missing in this as well is we talked a little bit, you talked a little bit about the cultural identity. When you look at the cultural identity for the tribes, everything our whole society, our identity is built upon these predators. Everything about nature and you know when we look at America in its infancy right now some Americans are still waiting for Photobegans to deliver the ring to Mordor to find out who they're going to be in America and that's their legends. And so for us, with all due respect to, to America regaining its identity in hard times for Indian people we want, we want to be able to share our culture with people and we want you to be able to accept that just as much as we respect people in their, their utilization of the land. I mean cows for example, I mean the fishing is a big part of our culture, but yet at the same time we have to watch cows degrade our riparian zones, our watersheds, but we have to respect that animal because it provides for another individual. But where's the reach around for the American Indian or the tribes, that's what we're looking for is that other for them to pat us on the back when we've already done it, when they've already taken from us. So that's what I have to say.
Jim Peck: What do these animals mean to us? You're talking about what they mean, yeah?
Steve Nadeau: I think that it's, it's fairly obvious from the people in this room and points of view that everybody has that you know people aren't seeing things similarly. The world is, they don't see the world as it is, they see the world as they are. It's clearly a divisive issue. If you're a rancher you see the world through a rancher's eyes. If you're an environmentalist you see the world maybe totally opposite in some fashion. There's a lot of issues here, but we as managers kind of have to pull the sides together at times and make the hard choices. We have to look out for the species, we have to look out for the interests of, of the humans that have to interact with the species, that's our job, that's why we get paid these high state salaries. But unfortunately not everybody agrees with what we do and we're here to try to pull folks together in this room on the other hand we do need some assistance, and some help and, and folks need to work with us as opposed to against us.
Jim Peck: Do you think it was a step that with only one exception nobody jumped up and said, Yeah, let's get rid of these?
Steve Nadeau: I think that's a, that's a positive thing. We've come a long way in wildlife management for people to accept the fact that wildlife, all wildlife has its place. That doesn't mean that we're here to say this is good wildlife, this is bad wildlife and we did that. Bad wildlife were species that conflicted with out interests. We as a state wildlife management area are here to manage all species of wildlife for the preservation perpetuation of those species for, for all of us. Yeah, the truth is, is that we have a tough road ahoe and there's a lot of work to be done.
Jim Peck: Some of the ranchers that we have here . . . how do you feel about these animals being a part of what we think of as the west?
Margaret Soulson Hinson: I guess I have a very healthy respect for wildlife. I think wildlife plays a very important role. We're proud of the amount of wildlife and the abundance of wildlife we have on our operation. I think you know they're certainly a part of the system and we've worked hard to try and use a lot of non-lethal mechanisms for control. But we also recognize that you have to have lethal control once in a while and I you know when I've listened to the conversation today I haven't voiced too much, but a lot of times I hear the same arguments over and over and over again and the same statements. And I don't think we ever quite figure out that we all love wildlife, we all love the outdoors and the system and we all need to find a way to make it work rather than just lodging bullets at each other all the time. So um.
Jim Peck: Do you feel any of that happening here? I mean as you're listening to some of the other perspectives?
Margaret Soulson Hinson: Oh, I've heard a few statements that I would you know take issue with probably but I don't think it ever comes down to how do we work together? How do we solve the issue? How do we make how do we really you know move our state and the west forward?
Jim Peck: Any ideas? I mean how do we bring, how do we bring you together with the folks over here that don't want to see any?
Margaret Soulson Hinson: I, I think there's a lot of the happening on individual basis, I do. But I think always when it comes to the public arena it's always easier for people to fall back into their position statements instead of taking you know a risk on being different or saying something different or looking like you're giving in to the other side or whatever you have to feel like you're doing.
Jim Peck: One other thing that's been sort of interesting in talking with Bill and talking with Nancy is that when you two talk about habitat and about wildlife, about prey base, about predators, you both want them there. You both want to see them increase. You both want land set aside for them. You want this to basically work. You [Bill] want them to be able to be hunted, you [Nancy] don't, and it seems like that's obviously a major sticking point between the two of you, but so much of the rest of it is right online. Am I incorrect?
Amaroq Weiss: We have a lot of, we have a lot of points of agreement, there's no question I think a lot of things that we've heard today have actually been a lot of points of agreement. I think something else to kind of keep in mind is the species we're talking about today are what are known as charismatic megafona. You know these are the big guys, these are the things that stir our cultural imagination. But we need to remember that we also have to think about the enigmatic minifona. You know the bugs and all the other little critters that are just as important too and I think it would be really interesting if someday we had a panel discussion just like this about I don't know dung beetles. You know would that happen? Would that happen? You know this discussion happens because these are critters that stir our imagination, they stir our passion, they're controversial, but they're also native, they're part of our heritage and, and I've heard a lot of points of agreement today.
Jim Peck: You talk about having these discussions about the dung beetles, and I know that's sort of tongue in cheek, but at the same time if you talk to Bill he's going to say this is all part of the same set of animals, that if you're protecting the umbrella species as we talked about with things like the grizzly bear that you're going to protect this whole class of animals.
Amaroq Weiss: Exactly, exactly so.
Jim Peck: And you're saying . . .
Bill Wall: Essentially the same thing and that is that we have to take a system approach to the issues that we face and that system approach includes various perspectives from the sociology side of things, but also it takes into consideration the entire ecological approach to the way that we deal with habitats, the way we deal with ungulate species, the way we deal with, with what's going on with, with urban sprawl etc. All of this is, is still something that, that hunters who are a specific group that, that I represent that I'm a hunter too and involved in a part of our passion and part of our conservation heritage. And I think it's, it's a mistake not to recognize that, that conservation heritage is why we're sitting here today and it will and should play a role in the future of the management of these systems as we try to figure out these very, very difficult problems from private land owners, private land owner rights which also are very important in this process as well as the ecological part of this thing.
Jim Peck: And are you going to say hunting should play no role?
Amaroq Weiss: No I, I think that he's right in terms of hunting also being a part of our cultural heritage. It is a part of human heritage for centuries, for millennia. I think that the concern that our organization has about hunting is not whether it occurs but how quickly it occurs after species are de-listed. Specifically with respect to the state wolf management plans in Wyoming or Montana or Idaho we'd certainly like to see a five year moratorium on hunting while we can see whether or not populations continue to be viable as the plans intend for them to be. So I think it's more a matter of timing.
Bill Wall: Jim just a response please real quick?Well, because one of the key issues here again is prey base and the interaction of the, of that particular species, and to be quite honest I don't particularly like to talk about wolves separate from the rest of the carnivore system that we have. Because I think it's very important that we think beyond individual species at this point. And that we think about ranchers and their issues. We think about wolves, grizzly bears, mountain lions, black bears, which we haven't talked about at all. They're impacts on our native ungulate populations and the interaction of different user groups that go out and use these species and use these habitats. And of course hunters are one of the key ones that, that we're interested in seeing utilized in the process. Whatever needs to be done I think we shouldn't, I think we shouldn't restrict ourselves and say we need a five year moratorium. What we need to do is look at this thing in a systematic approach and take the appropriate actions that maintain what we're looking to maintain out there within this system. Which is wild productive ungulate populations, maintaining rancher viability on their land bases, because without their land bases we don't have the habitat. And that we're looking at maintaining viable predator populations. Now obviously we may differ on what that is specifically, but generally we agree so.
Steve Nadeau: Over the last several years I've been working on the last 20 or so years I've been working on these large carnivores its become clear to me that these issues aren't new. As a matter of fact we had a, a symposium last winter where we had kind of the history of large carnivore management. We had a history of European management of grizzly bear, brown bears and wolves and, and these sorts of issues. The point became clear to me then that with respect to these large carnivores and the education of the public and the issues that come up and have to be solved on a daily basis. There is no finish line. It's a daily issue that we as managers have to deal with from now as long as we have these large carnivores and as long as we have people using the same habitats its a day to day issue and day to day win and a day to day loss. There's no finish line here.
Jim Peck: Hearing these people talk, does it sound like we're getting any closer?
Steve Nadeau: I, I think that . . . who we are most definitely we have, we've made great gains in a lot of these issues over the last several years and we can make, continue to make great gains everyday. These large linkage ideas are great gains. Easements, conservation easements to prevent subdivision building on these large tracts of private land -- that's a win/win sort of scenario situation for a rancher. These are new ideas, these are new approaches to thesame old problems, which is habitat loss and, and competition between predators and humans. These are issues that aren't going to change in the next 50 years. They're going to become more intense everyday. But there are, there are large gains that have been made and we have to continue to make 'em. But we have to also realize that, that there is no end. That this is something that we have to get up every morning and deal with on a regular basis.
Carter Niemeyer: Well, I just want to put a positive spin on this program today you know I've worked with the what we call predator management, I'd just as soon call it carnivore management too and I've been in that arena for close to 30 years. And I think this group that's gathered here today is symbolic of what I've seen in my career from say the start in the mid 70s to the present is that we've had a lot of extremism when I first got in the business. But this room today represents a lot of leadership and it represents the environmental community, the livestock community, the sportsman community, the tribes state, the feds everybody and I've seen great progress in that extremism has minimized and reasonable people have come to the table more and more. And to me we're on the road to, to finding a solution to living with big carnivores and it's all of the things we talked about today you know the urbanites have to recognize some of the problems they're creating so they can minimize those things. Sportsmen, the environmental community -- I think they have a lot in common. I mean we're all here because we enjoy wildlife. I think most of these people are have educations where we chose to support our natural resources. And I'm optimistic that this kind of group and discussion is, is beneficial to finding a solution. And I think we all know what the problems are. I mean we've batted it around and I've made a career of dealing with the people who you know are unhappy with these carnivores in their backyard eating their livestock, eating my deer, eating my elk, eating my pet. And I think that right now there's never been a greater time. I think people are better educated. I think all of us are more aware of extremism too and there's a place for extremism because extreme people make the rest of us realize we're a little more rationale than most. And so I just want to say today that in my career and working with most of the people in this room that we're making great progress.
Jon Robinett: When we started working with these bears in the 90s you know '90, '91 issues drive membership, membership drives money, money drives organization. So either side didn't want to come to the center. And now we're seeing that we can reach a common goal. Like when it, I presented a plan to the legislature for wolf management, made the whole state a trophy game area, we didn't have boundaries. We managed for population density. If we didn't want wolves in downtown Cheyenne you didn't have wolves. They, they'll seek places that they can actually survive without being socially or economically harmful. The same way with the grizzly bear I was on the governor's panel for de-listment. If we, let 'em go wherever they want because where you find them there's something there that they're going to use or they need. But if they're socially unacceptable you eliminate it, population density. And the root of this whole conversation evolves around people are the problem. It's not the wildlife it's too many opinions and too many different ideas of what we should have. We hire these biologists like Chris, Carter all these are supposed to be the best in their field that are doing this work, but yet we never trust 'em enough to let them do it. We question 'em, we don't think they're doing it right. We want to change it just a little bit. Why are we paying 'em if we have to do it for 'em?
Jim Peck: Why are we paying 'em?
Bill Wall: Jim, that was what I wanted to buttle up with and that was a challenge. And that was a challenge, but I wanted to follow up on or sort of end on is a challenge and this is a challenge to everybody in this room and everybody out in that audience. And that is let's go out and figure out the solutions out on the landscape, in the voting box and let's stay out of court, because court eats up money. We had a saying when we brought the Louisiana Black Bear back, feed bears not lawyers, and we did a whole lot more good for the bear than we did going to court.
Jim Peck: I'm seeing lots of nodding heads about not going to court. Except you [Nancy]-- you want to go to court?
Amaroq Weiss: If the current administration and all administrations henceforth promise to enforce our environmental laws to the fullest extent we won't go to court. And if they don't enforce them and if they don't allow their agency personnel to act according to the laws then we have no choice, but to go to court. The Endangered Species Act for instance says that when a species is listed critical habitat must be designated. We don't see critical habitat designations made, therefore we have to go to court to have that part of the act enforced. Our laws are set up so that we can have species that are listed. We're told that species can't be listed, although it's warranted to list them, but it's precluded because there's no money and then the argument is that there's no money because they're busy fighting the lawsuits that we filed because they didn't do the critical habitat designation. Easy solution to that.
Bill Wall: Jim just a quick rebuttal and that is I'll see everybody else out on the landscape. This is what happened with the black bear conservation committee as well and I think it's very unfortunate that we take an attitude like this when there's a real opportunity to create solutions. So we'll see you in court, we'll see everybody else out on the landscape.
Amaroq Weiss: You also see us out in the landscape. We happen to the be the organization that started a wolf compensation fund back in 1987. We started a grizzly compensation fund in 1997 that we took over from the Great Bear Foundation. We have started a proactive fund. In all of these efforts we work with livestock producers. We're trying to figure out how to do similar reach out with hunters because obviously we do have a lot in common. But sometimes those aren't the only way things get done. Why do we have laws if they're not going to be enforced? I, I'm assuming that if someone did a great injury to you that was against the law you would strongly consider taking it to court if you found that there was no other remedy. If you found that sitting down with them, speaking with them absolutely did not solve the problem. You would rest upon your legal right in this country to take a matter to court. We're simply resting upon a legal right that all citizens in this country have. Citizens have a legal right to petition that a species be listed. That's not just an agency action that's a citizen right. It's a legal right. So we're resting on our rights as well. And we're resting on those rights for the benefit of the people that aren't getting their remedies answered any other way.
Dean Miller: Being a hunter I have to admit to my bias in favor of what you've been saying all along, which is that hunters fund a lot of this. But being a journalist, the thing that's been interesting to watch in Idaho over the last 16, 17 years has been the degree to which the so-called mainstream conservation movement and hunters have become disassociated. And it, you see it here really clearly today. It's not a difference in beliefs or approach so much as it is a difference in style and it's I you know Carter has a lot of faith for the future I have some real fears about that, which is that as our culture becomes more urbanized hunting becomes, hunting and hunters become more marginalized and even within the hunting community you have a lot of marginalization. When we debated bear management in Idaho 8 years ago I had one set of beliefs about hound hunters. Then when I went and did this book and I met hound hunters I'll tell you what you send me any randomly selected list of 10 people from Defenders or from Predator Conservation Alliance and I'll take 10 randomly selected hound hunters and we'll debate biology and the hound hunters will clean up. The image of hound hunters is that they're a bunch tobacco spitting you know game wasting fools. The fact is they're the most committed hunters there are because you have to train dogs. They're really more into it for the dogs than anything else and they really have to know the wildlife to be involved. There's all these cultural and sociological divides between people who have basically the same goals. I mean I listened to Levi and, and Aaron talk about the spirituality of hunting as if that was the exclusive preserve of the native community, it's not. Hunting is deeply spiritual part of my life and eating meat that I killed is really important to me on a spiritual level because I don't really like the way domestic livestock is treatment. I'm not squeamish about it. I just think I'd rather eat something that was happy when it died that something that was squeezed into a chicken shoot. So you know what I mean there's all this sociological stuff where we question each other's science. Like John was saying, we question the biologist because they disagree with our values and we're not getting the job done. Somebody's got to be able to bring everybody together and say whoa wait a minute. We're all, we're all different flavors of the same ice cream.
Kent McAdoo: It seems to me that we there's a, a tendency to apply a different standard or a different view, viewpoint at least when we're talking about hunting a an ungulate for example like deer versus hunting a predator. And certainly we've, we've already heard and it's true that conservation, conservation hunting modern hunting with highly regulated means and so on has really contributed to the conservation of wildlife in North America. And as in terms of ungulates and these predator species its interesting that you know hunting of predator species go, or excuse me carnivores whatever you want to call them goes way back as well, even in the native American cultures all you have to look at is headdresses arrow quivers and so on to see that. And while you know certainly there's not the amount harvested or shouldn't be of predators for example as you might harvest a deer animal I don't understand why that would cause such a problem for people to think of harvesting a predator, especially the situation where that predator is inflicting or has inflicted damage. And I think that's something that needs a hard look.
Carl Scheeler: You know I think we've been focusing on, on some of the more defined sound byte type issues that, that drive the social questions surrounding predator management in North America. And I think that's part of the problem. We look at the individual issue it's a bloodthirsty animal. Well we're predators too and we're bloodthirsty too. So is that wrong? I would say no we're focusing on the wrong thing. We look, we look at the the potential health and human safety issues and, and how do you address the, the predator in your backyard. But we really need to shift the discussion, shift the vision to the landscape that we're operating in. We need to be looking for solutions that aren't conservative in terms of protecting the statuesque of the way that we have done in the past. We view our resource priorities management, but rather preserve the opportunity that we have today because that opportunity is going to be fast lost as development continues. We've seen it in urban areas. I was raised in Northern Virginia and I spent a large part of my youth roaming through hardwood forests that are now entirely turned into subdivisions. Now that was important for that area, it was a value to that area. I'm not saying that was wrong, but that type of development continues today. And we need to consider what is it going to take on a landscape level for us to continue to have persistent large carnivores as part of our systems that we're managing. And then we need to figure out social strategies that target achieving that vision instead of arguing whether or not shooting a predator is appropriate versus trying to annoy them to conforming to our desires.
Levi Holt: I can't help but agree that earlier statements by Carter that today is one of the first days that I personally have found much more in common with industry be it rancher agency, state and federal. But I think that really for me today I would like to know that society those of us as well here in the room are willing to admit that we've done things incorrectly of past. We've managed incorrectly and urban sprawl has taken it's toll and now its time to pay back and, and in that is tolerance. The presence of the carnivore is a fact for us as native people of life. It is in fact a creature that we would respect and that we would honor and in doing so we would develop a relationship and an understanding as to how to live alongside of this animal. Unfortunately for the cougar population numbers are outnumbering the habitat and the prey base and of course now humans as they are in danger are, are fearing and looking to remove the animal altogether. That's the second mistake. And somehow unfortunately we'll have to reduce the numbers and that will be hopefully through legal means. But it will be calculated and it will be one that will serve as a lesson for us all for the future.
Jim Caswell: I've got two things that cross my mind. One is I'm not sure the right word's ironic, but I think it's interesting when you talk about are we making progress? When you think about the fact the state of Idaho has a wolf management plan approved by the legislature. First state in the three-state area to ever pull that off. And probably the one that everybody would expect would be the last in line number one. And it's fairly progressive thinking really. Secondly the same thing with grizzly bears in Yellowstone, well all three states do, but and we weren't first, but again the premise behind, the basic premise behind that plan is to let bears go where bears want to go. And we don't even need one according to Chris, I mean as far as you know the overall issues in Yellowstone. But we have one, we know what we're going to do when bears come off the list and, and bears are going to enjoy a lot of freedom out there on the Idaho side. The second thing I wanted to kind of come back to this lawsuit issue for a second and you know I really get perplexed about the motives behind the issue of suing over critical habitat designation. If I knew the motives were pure then I guess that's fine, but you know critical habitat designation doesn't buy anybody anything in reality. Can't even figure out where it is. It holds up scientifically number one. So if we're just suing to sue because it's the law we ought to change the law, excuse me. And some of that's been proposed. And there's a good bill in Congress right now that ought to change the law. I ought to go back and become a part of the recovery planning process, not a part of the listing process and it's an artifact of when they built the law that's where they put it. And did we know it was going to work good or bad? Well, it doesn't really work so well. It's hard to do, you can figure out where it is, it has really no meaning, other than the issue of absence and presence of the species. So if the species is not present you don't have to consult or deal with the Service on issues or projects; if critical habit is designated then you do. So what's the real motive behind the soft underbelly of Section 4 in the Act -- is it simply to grind people into the dirt? Or is it to do something positive to recover species long term? So that's kind of a question I would be interested in hearing a response to.
Amaroq Weiss: I'd like to hope that the motives of our Congress in enacting the Endangered Species Act was to promote recovery and conservation of species, not grinding people into the dirt. And I would like to follow forward with that thought -- that, that is why we have that law. This seems to me very similar to our discussion about grizzly in terms of corridors which aren't necessarily just routes for the grizzly to live, but habitat that they can live in too, whether that's an exponential creep as the species does, but that's a recognition that certain species, all species, have certain habitat requirements. And to say that critical habitat designation means nothing for any species is simply not true. Look at us, we need a certain amount of ground to live in. We need a certain amount of water. We need a certain amount of food. And therefore the environment we live in needs to provide that in order for us to provide. Same thing is true with species, other animal species. So designating critical habitat is a recognition that if we don't identify areas that have what this species needs to survive we can go ahead and list it all we want, but no recovery efforts we do are going to recover it. Are going to assure that we will have a viable population. So I, I don't think that there's an impure motive. I certainly wouldn't ascribe that to our Congress in passing a law.
[View the video of this discussion segment]
Idaho OKs killing wolves in N. Idaho that attacked 2 dogs, killing 1
Wolves sighted near Jackson subdivision in W. Wyoming
Montana FWP considers extending wolf hunt in West Fork of the Bitterroot
Wyoming legislators to tweak wolf management bill to exclude federal areas
Experts question Wyoming's wolf-management plan
Yellowstone Park report addresses lake trout removal, grizzly bear genetics
Montana FWP says hunt changes near Yellowstone NP protected wolves
Oregon wolf makes its way to N. California
Grizzly bear, cubs in Wyoming national park postpone hibernation
Federal government: Wyoming law protects it from lawsuit on fatal grizzly attack