Bye Bye Biodiversity

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, you can’t really be a wolf advocate or an elk advocate, or any kind of advocate for the environment, and continue to eat beef. That message was driven home by a new Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department elk “management” proposal which includes reducing the numbers of not only elk, but also of wolves (who, logically, could have done some of the “management” for them) near Yellowstone National Park, all in the name of safeguarding cattle from the negligible threat of brucellosis—a disease which, in the past hundred years, has come full circle from livestock to wildlife and now back to livestock.

So far, it’s been the bison migrating out of Yellowstone during hard winters who have suffered the brunt of the rancher’s brucellosis paranoia. “Solutions” have included “hazing” bison back into the park and creating holding areas outside the park to warehouse bison before shipping them off to slaughterhouses—those nightmarish death camps where so many of their forcibly domesticated bovine cousins meet their ends. (In a country where some 60 million bison once roamed free, 97 million beef cattle are sent to slaughter each year.) Still other Yellowstone bison are murdered during newly imposed state “hunting” seasons—right outside the park.

Speaking of hunting, it’s interesting (to put it nicely) that hunters in Montana and Wyoming have claimed that elk populations in those states have declined as a result of the wolf reintroduction programs, yet the latest report suggests that elk numbers and density are “too high” (at least for rancher’s sensitivities) in parts of Montana.

Typical of state “game” department bureaucrats and their ideas of a “solution” to any perceived wildlife/livestock “conflict,” their preferred proposal is to reduce the number of wild animals—in this case, both elk and wolves!

It’s the kind of mentality that’s destroying the planet’s biodiversity at every turn: mile after mile of monoculture cornfields in Iowa (grown primarily to fatten cattle crammed onto feedlots)—places where, a century ago, 300 species of plants, 60 mammals, 300 birds and hundreds of insects would have lived—are now devoid of all other life forms other than cornstalks and an occasional tiny ant or a mushroom the size of an apple seed; cows grazing on pastures in Pennsylvania and Louisiana are dying from toxic fracking wastes that have made their way to the surface and meanwhile, arctic ice is melting faster than previously predicted, disrupting ocean currents and weather patterns life on Earth has come to depend on.

Call it “growth” or “progress” or just “our way of life,” but this locomotive is speeding towards a brick wall—yet we keep shoveling fuel into it like there’s no tomorrow…

 

Not that Montana FWP are likely to listen to anyone except fellow hunters and/or their cattle baron buddies, but the public comment period is now open, so feel free to let them know what you think about their elk “management” proposal here: http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/publicComments/2012elkMgmtGuidelinesBrucellosisWG.html

You can view the working group’s recommendations by clicking on the “Interested Persons Letter” link on this webpage. That site also includes the opportunity to submit online comments about the recommendations. Written comments can be mailed to “FWP – Wildlife Bureau, Attn: Public Comment, P. O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. All comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on December 20, 2012

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Back to the Bucket Brigade

Last night western Washington State experienced a major thunderstorm. Power was knocked out in several areas and at least one house “blew up” after taking  a direct hit from a lightning bolt. Both residents of the house, a 57 year old man and his dog, were sent sailing across the room. As is so often the case, the dog saved his companion’s life by warning him to get out of the house before smoke inhalation did them in.

Thunderstorms are common this time of year in arid, eastern Washington where summer temperatures are usually at least 20 degrees higher. But on the cool, damp, coastal side of the Cascade Mountains a summer lightning storm is almost unheard of. As usual, the media downplayed the event as not such a rarity, “it’s something that happens once in a while.” Like President Bush’s comforting statement after 911, the central message is, don’t panic—just “go shopping.” Above all, don’t let something like a major oil spill in the fragile Gulf of Mexico or record-breaking storms wrought by a changing climate effect the stock market. We’ve got to keep this locomotive of progress barreling down the tracks like there’s no tomorrow.

While the term “global warming” may not sound that menacing, the ongoing increase in the Earth’s overall annual temperature is responsible for a shift in weather patterns, leading to widespread historic events which are growing more intense by the day. Meanwhile, despite what those fracking sons of bitches running the oil industry try to tell us, the impending adversities resulting from reaching peak oil production are not something we can wish away.

Vast areas of drought-stricken forests are ready to burn and though immense fires rage more frequently every summer, the only thing keeping millions of other acres from burning off is a fire suppression action plan that calls for first strike helicopters and converted B-52 bombers to drop chemical fire retardant on every spark they can get to.  But it won’t be long before there just isn’t enough oil to keep up with that kind of aerial assault.

The looming question is who’s going to be left to shovel the last bits of the coal into the engine of this speeding locomotive when everyone is busy on the bucket brigade, trying to put out the latest catastrophic wildfire by hand?

Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson