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Transcript: Rights and Values
Bill Wall: If you turn around and look at the history of sport hunting in the west it was hunters and their desire to hunt and their passion for wild places and wildlife that brought the prey back so that we have the predators that we have in the system today. I also think it's very important that we start thinking on a system approach to this, not only from a private landowner's perspective, but also from the system of carnivores as well as ungulate species out there which are the primary prey. Because if we're not thinking holistically we're not going to deal with the issue very effectively.
Chuck Schwartz: Hunting is a tool that can be used to harvest wildlife. It's a mechanism that if used properly is a very effective tool. A lot of people oppose hunting, but they think of hunting well before the conservation era when there was uncontrolled, unregulated killing of wildlife for meat or other purposes. Hunting today is very different. There's rules and regulations and typically game harvest occurs after everything else is considered and it's a surplus. And wildlife is a renewable resource that if managed properly perpetuates itself every year. And we can use that resource and maintain it in a healthy state. The issues oftentimes revolve around values, personal values. Some people are adamantly opposed to killing animals, others find it very acceptable and that's where the struggle really exists today. It's a social struggle about whether we should or should not hunt an animal and that struggle gets more amplified when you talk about hunting animals for meat subsistence purposes, which a lot of people accept, as opposed to hunting animals as a trophy, which a lot of people find objectionable. And then that's elevated even higher when you talk about hunting an animal like a carnivore for its hide and typically unless it's a black bear for example you don't eat the meat. So people perceive hunting in very different ways depending on their background and their value system.
Amaroq Weiss: I've noticed that a large part of our conversation has been devoted to killing wolves, killing predators, whether we're talking about whether we should use lethal control versus non-lethal. What do we think about hunting? I'd like to suggest a shift in focus to recognizing the life, the life force that predators such as wolves insert into the ecosystem. And that when we recognize large predators such as wolves as being, and here biodiversity is a term that's commonly used. What we're recognizing is that it is the presence of these species that drives the strength, the integrity, the sustainability of all the other organisms in the ecosystem and I think that another way we could focus our discussion in general about predators and informing the public is recognizing the value that they give to our ecosystems which in-turn gives to us.
Crosby Allen: I'd like to go back to the non-lethal control. I think we kind of skipped over the non-lethal. I think as was pointed out earlier it's very important to consider the rights of, of people whose life and property are being infringed upon. That's a constitutionally protected right and if we're going to be playing around with non-lethal control methods and experimenting with this non-essential experimental species, the wolves, then there needs to be something in place to protect these people, these people's constitutional rights. If either they need the ability to pop that wolf if it's threatening their life or property or they need to be directly reimbursed for that. They need to be compensated as is required in the, in the constitution. So I think that's key and if you know if we want to get off into these areas of you know if this will work or that will work, that's fine, but we need to take care of people's rights while we're doing that.
Jennifer Ellis: Well we have several different issues and, and going back to opening the barn door so to speak. Most of us are pretty well educated anymore and we realize that there will be a certain number of wolves that have to be attained in Idaho. I mean we will not go out and indiscriminately shoot them, but we absolutely have to have the right to protect what is ours. And I don't know about anybody else in this room, but if somebody came into my back yard and shot my dog I'm going to be mad. Well our calves are the same and our horses, sheep, goats, anything else that you raise, and we have to have the right to come back. And I'm not so crazy about compensation as just being able to take care of my own. I don't need somebody paying me if I can take control, but like with Margaret when she loses 50 sheep in 3 weeks that's not fair to us, for everybody else's gain in the United States.
Dean Miller: The question I want to hear answered, and we've got a whole room full of these folks, is who guaranteed you a living? Because you know it's the one that always gets asked at the campfire when you're not there, but I have a lot of sympathy for the fact that wolf can wipe you out. I mean a cougar will get in and those sheep run and the cougars are keyed to kill a running prey animal and they're kill 50 of 'em in a night that's not a myth that's true it's documented. But I'm not sure that you were guaranteed a living on the public lands. I mean if I was in the silver industry the price of silver goes south he goes out. Same thing for you, you're Larry Craig two weeks ago in North Idaho saying you know we're not going to cut a lot more timber on the public land that day is over. You've got a congress now where people would rather subsidize predators than ranchers, most likely. And so I'm wondering how do you answer that question where there's a lot of debate about management of the public ground because when we were looking at the cougar question it was the same thing. There are places where it's probably irresponsible to raise cattle because you know there's so many predators there it's a predator sync that you're going to, you're going to have big losses and the public isn't going to support the killing of that many predators. So are there, is there going to be a change in the ranching industry to where maybe we don't use so much public grass beef?
Jon Robinett: One thing I'd like to address on that is in all of the discussions we've had is a lack of equality on the people who bear the brunt of this. The people who live with them daily and have the problems. And as far as guaranteeing my living is that we play into the same laws that everybody else does in this room we have a constitutional right, pursuit of happiness, things like that and that's where I'll leave that. But when it's the equality is not being divided up amongst the people it's just bared by a few, a segment of the population that's the problem we're having. Wildlife's driven by necessity we're driven by economics and that's where the road comes. But we have the same rights and the same you know to be a rancher to be an environmentalist to be a writer, we have those constitutional rights and we shouldn't have to forfeit those because a certain segment of the population says we don't want you to do that anymore. We live, most of our kills are on private property, Carter Neimeyer's been there, we've lost six dogs, two horses, numerous cattle. Previous. Can I go on with this? Prior to the wolf reintroduction the most cattle we lost in one year was 22 head to grizzly bears associated to bears. The, the 1997 we went to 61 cattle loss after the Washkee Pack set up housekeeping and everything we've done we've stayed within the parameters of the law. We've went through the legal system, we went through everything that we could, we've never broken the law, we don't intend to, but where is the equality in that?
Jim Caswell: One of the responses I have to that is, in a land state like Idaho where 63% or 66% of the land is owned by the federal government how do you protect private property and its value from a conservation perspective. I mean if, it's kind of what Paul said earlier. You know the worst allotment is better than the best subdivision. When you compare that to conservation, species, long-term perpetuation of any, any critters -- I don't care what they are -- you've got to bring private property to the, to the table; you can't do it on the back of federal ground. And if we're going to recover species, even ones that are abundant currently and keep 'em abundant, you've got to have good conservation going on, on private land. And in order to do that in this part of the, the world you know in rural economies you've got to use federal land as a backstop to help those ranchers if that's the key, the key industry survive you just have to. They've got to be part of the solution and you can't use this kind of draconian thinking about we ought to lock it up; that is not the multiple-use mandate, particularly national forest and BLM. Turn it into a park if that's what you want to do. Then you can have a little more control over those kinds of issues. Get that through Congress.
Aaron Miles: I guess when we're looking at all this, when 150 years go when westward expansion was happening in the Pacific Northwest, we're faced with the same issues today and right now until that changes, we're still driven by the economy of this nation and so you know you look at developers they're bringing in money, they're bringing in more people from the east and so until we identify those as really as a, as a problem then we're never going to solve this I mean because we're, we're pushing on the brink of more development and we're just getting more into the grizzly bear and wolves habitat and it's rightfully theirs it's not even, wasn't even rightfully ours in the first place and we just put a value to all this. It sickens me that we've done that and now you look, you look at what they've lost the both those predators I mean the range all the way down to Mexico and then we're, they're just fighting for a little couple parcels of this, of this ecosystem. When are we going to identify that we're the problem and not those those other predators?
Levi Holt: I'd like to kind of bring it back to center if you will, I think that initially when we consider corridors and the movement of all species we really need to consider the fact as mentioned earlier these land bases were in tact and were without interruption we came in, we fenced the land, we drove the animals away. It seems to me in the three states in the northwest Idaho, Montana and Wyoming a cattle, a cow, has more protection on the highway then any wildlife. If I hit a, a livestock out on the highway I'm perhaps liable, I'm here in court to face a fine and other reimbursement to the rancher who has an opportunity to free graze and, and allow species of livestock to roam freely um, but yet when we consider the grizzly or, or any other predator movement, we're looking to restrict it and we're looking to condense it. This is a problem that not only here in the U.S., but in Canada, in my travels there and working with the uh, Yellowstone to Yukon conservation initiative one of our goals is to connect the Northern Rockies to the Southern Rocky corridors and I have to come back to corridors because I believe we begin to take from the meaning and the emphasis and we get so involved in, in definitions that we forget really what we are here for and I think we're, we're stewards today and we're forgetting about that. It's not all about just putting down an animal. Somehow we need to find a way and I think that the government if, if that is the case needs to be involved. Idaho being largely federally owned has an obligation to work with the federal government and vice versa. The equation here that I think is being left out is that tribes when we signed our treaty in 1855. When we spoke at that our desire was to retain and preserve wildlife and habitat. Yes we're talking about wildlife now, but not so much the habitat and I think with the current administration moving in the directions as they are to, to gut the clean air act, clean water act, the roadless initiatives, we're seeing an influx and an attack on something that has been preserved, something has been America and we're losing that today.
Dave Gaillard: And if I could just expand that beyond grizzly bears, the Bitterroot is such a key area. It's great habitat for all sorts of wildlife. A recent study published in the leading scientific journal found that 10 predator carnivore species were looked at from Yellowstone all the way north to Jasper up in B.C. and Alberta and found that Idaho contains the largest block as Chris mentioned, of undeveloped great habitat for these species. And not only that it, that its great habitat, but it's also a linchpin for connections for all those animals south and north. And that's where its particularly frustrating for the current administration federally, the Idaho governor to come out against restoring grizzly bears and, and often the, the, the places where its best to be a predator in terms of the habitat turns out to be the most politically hostile climate. And what I think you know the reason I'm here is for that vast constituency for these wildlife that go beyond the people that want to kill them, that go beyond the people that just deal with the problems that they pose. I don't want to belittle those problems, but in the grand scheme of things there's a tremendous upwelling up support for these animals lives, living, breathing along the landscape and people want to hold on to our heritage. And its really frustrating because the predator policy sometimes does not reflect the will of the majority of these, of Americans and Idahoans who, who support predators in the state and it doesn't, it isn't grounded in good science it's instead often co-opted by politics, by special interest groups that unfortunately are, are concerned more about you know just maximizing elk numbers for hunters or simply trying to make Idaho and the Northern Rockies like every other place in the lower 48.
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?
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.
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.
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