Rewilding of America is a natural thing to do


Rewilding of America is a natural thing to do

The News West / By Todd Wilkinson | Posted: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 4:30 am

We human beings are set apart by our capacity to express extraordinary compassion, empathy and charity — especially, it seems, at this time of year.

We also are unrivaled on the planet for carrying out acts of cruelty, not only against others of our own kind but toward vulnerable creatures around us that have no voice to plead their case for mercy and therefore no defense.

In ignorance, thoughtlessness and the warped logic of Manifest Destiny — the absurd notion that God would encourage us to be plunderers — we’ve erased other species from existence.

Witless sometimes, we inflict pain on animals, rationalizing it on the conceit that other creatures are incapable of knowing suffering or that our superiority gives us license to not acknowledge it exists.

This sort of thinking, Marc Bekoff says, is precisely the logic that degrades humanity.

Bekoff has a new book out that any animal-loving human (including hunters, anglers and ranchers) needs to read. “Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence” is an important work because it will change how you think about your relationship with nature.

That challenge can be exhilarating if you’re ready, frightening if your worldview is so fragile it cannot withstand scrutiny.

While reading Bekoff’s book and reflecting on the twisted individuals who publicly boast of inflicting abuse on wolves and coyotes, I thought of the observation made by the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung: “The healthy man does not torture others. Generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers.”

Bekoff is a world-renowned ethologist who wrote the critically acclaimed book “The Emotional Lives of Animals.” As professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, he is also a former Guggenheim Fellow — confirmation that he is among a club of people held in highest regard for being exceptional big-picture thinkers.

Author Richard Louv, in his bestselling book “Last Child in the Woods,” identified a chronic problem plaguing modern people, Nature Deficit Disorder, running rampant in our kids.

Bekoff’s book confirms Louv’s diagnosis and casts it in fresh light. He believes that in our zeal to conquer nature, tame and control it, we’ve become “unwilded,” cut off from the very things that keep us grounded.

Bekoff isn’t just an advocate for rewilding physical landscapes — restoring them to their life-nurturing ecological function and recognizing the intrinsic value of their interconnected parts. As individuals, he says, we benefit from rewilding ourselves by maintaining contact with nature or making changes in our lives that give us daily exposure to wild things, the same as if taking a health-enhancing vitamin.

It is with empathy that we reach out to others suffering pain, loss and trauma caused by violence. And it is through extraordinary groups like Wounded Warriors that exposure to nature is used as a salve to heal.

Bekoff shares observations about hunting that, he notes, have sparked philosophical conversations with Wyoming outfitters. He also blasts commercial media. His thoughts are sure to provoke. Rather than divulge them here, suffice it to say they’re well worth absorbing.

Not long ago “60 Minutes” interviewed scientific researchers who had discovered that dogs can understand hundreds of human words and have a huge emotional range. It’s something Bekoff has known for decades.

Of interest to Westerners, Bekoff calls attention to those who kill wolves and, denying they are sensitive, thinking, feeling creatures, try to put them in a separate category from domestic canids.

“Then I ask the person if they would hunt and kill their own dog. ‘Of course not!’ they usually respond with incredulity. But in the end, a dog and the wild animals people hunt are not all that different, except that we already love our dogs.”

The terrain Bekoff explores may unsettle some, for it challenges the belief that animals, especially wild ones, are somehow lesser life forms, not worth consideration as sentient beings.

The whole point of Bekoff’s book is: It’s difficult to consciously inflict harm upon, or knowingly exploit for fun and profit, or wantonly eradicate beings that possess their own inner soul and spirit. They’re all around us.

“Alienating ourselves from other animals and dominating them and their homes is not what it means to be human,” Bekoff writes. “We must stop this insanity now. Ecocide is suicide.”

Idaho Suspends Wilderness Wolf-Killing Plan In Face of Court Challenge

By On July 29, 2014

POCATELLO, Idaho – Faced with a legal challenge by conservationists and an imminent hearing before a federal appeals court, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (“IDFG”) has abandoned its plan to resume a professional wolf-killing program in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the coming winter.

In a sworn statement submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on July 24, 2014, IDFG Wildlife Bureau Chief Jeff Gould stated that IDFG “will not conduct any agency control actions for wolves within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness before November 1, 2015.” IDFG had previously advised the court that the program could resume as early as December 1, 2014.

A professional hunter-trapper hired by IDFG killed nine wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness last winter and state officials in February announced plans to kill 60 percent of the wolves in the Middle Fork section of the wilderness over a period of several years in an effort to inflate wilderness elk populations for the benefit of commercial outfitters and recreational hunters.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act this September, we are relieved that the Frank Church Wilderness will be managed as a wild place, rather than an elk farm, for at least the coming year,” said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso, who is representing conservationists challenging the wilderness wolf-killing program. “Now we must make sure that wilderness values prevail for the long term.”

Earthjustice is representing long-time Idaho conservationist and wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan along with four conservation groups—Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch, and the Center for Biological Diversity—in the lawsuit challenging the wolf-killing program. The conservationists argue that the U.S. Forest Service, which is charged by Congress with managing and protecting the Frank Church Wilderness, violated the Wilderness Act and other laws by allowing and assisting the state wolf-killing program in the largest forest wilderness in the lower-48 states.

In a separate sworn statement filed with the Ninth Circuit on July 24, the Forest Service committed to providing the conservationists with notice by August 5, 2015 of any plans by IDFG to resume professional wolf-killing in the Frank Church Wilderness during the 2015-16 winter, as well as “a final determination by the Forest Service as to whether it concurs with or objects to such plans.”

“IDFG’s announcement now gives the Forest Service the chance to play out its mission—its obligation to protect our irreplaceable Frank Church Wilderness for the American people and for all its wildlife against an effort to turn it into a mere elk farming operation on infertile soil,” said Maughan, a retired Idaho State University professor who was a member of the citizens’ group that drew up the boundaries of the Frank Church Wilderness 35 years ago.

“We are pleased to see this truce in Idaho’s wolf reduction efforts in the Frank Church for a full year,” said Suzanne Stone, Defenders’ regional representative who has worked nearly three decades to restore wolves in Idaho. “The Frank Church is both the largest forested wilderness area and a core habitat for gray wolves in the western United States. Wolves belong here as they have made the ‘Frank’ truly wild again. Ensuring healthy wolf populations here is critical for the recovery of wolves throughout the entire northwestern region.”

“It is hard to imagine a decision more inconsistent with wilderness protection than to allow the hired killing of wolves,” added Travis Bruner, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Today, some relief for wild places flows from the news that IDFG will not continue that odious operation this year. Next we will see whether the Forest Service will take action to protect the Frank Church Wilderness from such atrocities in the future.”

“It’s time for the Forest Service to stand with the vast majority of the American people by taking the necessary steps to protect wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness for the long-term, not just the next 15 months,” stated George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch. “Wolves are the epitome of wildness. Their protection is key to preserving the area’s wilderness character.”

“We’re glad Idaho’s wolves are rightly getting a reprieve from the state’s ill-conceived predator-killing plan, at least for a year,” said Amy Atwood, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.  “We’re also happy to see the Forest Service agree to be more transparent about any future decision to allow Idaho to kill wolves in the Frank Church.”

BACKGROUND: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had scheduled an August 25, 2014 court hearing to address the conservationists’ request for an injunction to prevent IDFG from resuming its program of professional wolf killing in the Frank Church Wilderness during the coming winter. IDFG commenced the program in December 2013 without public notice but abruptly suspended the program on January 28, 2014 amidst emergency injunction proceedings before the Ninth Circuit. Since then, the conservationists have continued to press their case for an injunction before the Ninth Circuit, which led to the scheduled August 25 court hearing.

Because IDFG has abandoned the 2014-15 professional wolf-killing program in the wilderness, the conservationists have agreed to forego the scheduled court hearing, but they renewed their call for the Forest Service to fulfill its legal duty to protect the Frank Church Wilderness.

copyrighted wolf in river

Idaho Intent on Killing Wolves in the Wilderness

copyrighted wolf in water

By Ken Cole On February 12, 2014
The Wildlife News

New plan aims to reduce population by 60% to please elk hunters

POCATELLO, Idaho – In an effort to inflate elk populations for commercial outfitters and hunters, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) hopes to kill 60 percent of the wolves in the Middle Fork area of central Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, according to a predator management plan for the area released this week.

IDFG’s plan calls for an intensive program of wolf killing in the largest forested wilderness area in the lower-48 states through several successive years of professional hunting and trapping efforts designed to boost the local elk population beyond the level that can be sustained through natural predator-prey interactions. It comes just weeks after a hunter-trapper hired by the state wildlife agency killed nine wolves in an effort to exterminate two wolf packs in the Middle Fork area. State officials terminated the program in the midst of an emergency court proceeding to halt the program.

Earthjustice is in court to stop the professional extermination of wolves in central Idaho’s Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Last month, Earthjustice filed an emergency motion asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to preserve the wolves and their vital contribution to the wilderness character of the . Rather than presenting its legal defense to Earthjustice’s argument, IDFG temporarily halted the program until the end of June 2014. Earthjustice will be filing its opening brief later this week in the Ninth Circuit proceeding. Earthjustice is representing long-time Idaho wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan, along with Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch, and Center for Biological Diversity in the case.

Statement from attorney Tim Preso of the Northern Rockies office of Earthjustice.
“The state of Idaho has made clear that it intends to double down on its plan to transform the Middle Fork area of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness from a naturally regulated wilderness to an elk farm benefiting commercial outfitters and recreational hunters. The only thing that is not clear is whether the U.S. Forest Service will step up to defend the wilderness character of this landscape on behalf of all the American people or instead will, as it has done to date, let Idaho effectively run the area to advance its own narrow interest in elk production. For our part, we intend to do everything we can to obtain a federal court ruling that will require the Forest Service to protect this special place and its wildlife.”

Statement from Idaho resident and long-time conservationist Ralph Maughan:
“By implication our lawsuit aims to protect the entire nationwide Wilderness Preservation System from similar efforts to transform the wild into a bland farm for a few kinds of common animals.”
Statement from Idaho resident and Defenders of Wildlife representative Suzanne Stone:
“It’s clear that IDFG isn’t interested in sustainable wolf recovery. Instead, they’re focused on doing anything they can to kill as many wolves as possible in the state. That’s not responsible state wildlife management any way you look at it. Idaho committed to responsibly managing wolves when federal protections were removed just a few short years ago. Actions like this just further demonstrate that they’re failing to uphold their end of the agreement.”

Statement from Ken Cole of Western Watersheds Project:
“For the idea of wilderness to have any meaning at all, wildlife must be allowed to self-regulate, to seek its own balance, to be wild. Instead, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game insists on heavy handed management of wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness to benefit a tiny minority of the people who use and enjoy the area. The nation’s premier wilderness is not just a recreation area of rocks and ice, it is a thriving ecosystem that should be treated as the treasure it is.”

Statement from George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch:
“The State of Idaho has shown once again it is incapable of being a responsible partner in wilderness administration. It’s high time the Forest Service exert its authority and obligation to protect the public’s interest in Wilderness and wildlife protection.”

“This outrageous plan to slaughter wolves in the lower 48’s largest wilderness in an ill-conceived attempt to increase elk numbers is only the latest example of just how backwards wildlife management has become in Idaho. Already more than 900 wolves have been killed in Idaho during state-sanctioned hunting and trapping seasons. And this unnecessary slaughter will continue unless the courts step in and stop the senseless killing.”

Idaho hunter hired to kill wolves “gets the job done”!

[This answers the question, “How many are left?”]

by Associated Press, January 29th 2014

KETCHUM, Idaho — A professional hunter has been called out of a federal wilderness in central Idaho because he succeeded in killing all the wolves in two packs, a state agency spokesman said.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler tells the Idaho Mountain Express in a story on Wednesday that the hunter killed eight wolves with traps and a ninth by hunting.

Gus Thoreson of Salmon started hunting and trapping in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in mid-December as part of a state plan to eliminate wolves to boost elk numbers. The state agency had planned to keep Thoreson hunting through the winter.

“He had been pretty effective early on, but it had been two weeks since he had taken any wolves, so we decided there was no reason to keep him in the area any longer,” Keckler said.copyrighted wolf in river

Keckler said the average size of a wolf pack in Idaho is five wolves, so the agency determined it had reached its goal of eliminating the Golden Creek and Monumental Creek packs. Officials announced Monday that Thoreson was coming out.

Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore’s acknowledgement that Thoreson’s hunt relied on the use of the U.S. Forest Service’s backcountry airstrips and cabin had prompted strong emotions, including from wolf advocates who sued in federal court to force him to quit.

Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch filed the lawsuit Jan. 6 asking the judge to stop the plan immediately to give the case time to work through the courts. The environmental groups were joined by Ralph Maughan, a former Idaho State University professor, conservationist and long-time wolf recovery advocate from Pocatello.

They lost their initial bid on Jan. 17 when a federal judge rejected their request for a temporary restraining order. The conservation groups argued that Thoreson’s activities violated the 1964 Wilderness Act and other federal acts.

The groups had appealed that decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals when the state agency announced the hunter was being pulled out.

“I am happy that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has relented, but it is unfortunate that so many wolves have been taken in this senseless plan to manhandle wildlife in an area that Congress recognized as a wilderness,” said Ken Cole, National Environmental Policy Act coordinator at the Boise office of Western Watersheds Project.

Wolves were reintroduced to Idaho in the mid-1990s and have since flourished in backcountry regions, including the Frank Church wilderness.

Last year, state game managers estimated Idaho’s wolf population at 683, an 11 percent drop from 2012. The highest total was in 2009, when it estimated 859 wolves were in the state.

Information from: Idaho Mountain Express,

Victory For Idaho Wolves!

Earthjustice went to court to stop Idaho from exterminating the Golden and Monumental wolf packs in central Idaho’s Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness.
And we won! The Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced that it is halting its wolf extermination program as of today.
This will stop the wolf killings and restore the natural balance between predator and prey in the Idaho wilderness area.
A howling wolf in the snow. (Judilen / istockphoto)

Tell the U.S. Senate that You Oppose Ranching Industry Bill: Western Wildlands are Not a Feedlot

From Wildearth Guardians

It’s another giveaway by the Congressional cowboy caucus to welfare ranchers.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is considering a bill that would exempt the ranching industry from numerous environmental laws and further elevate the cattle industry on western public lands above wildlife and water.

Tell Committee Chair Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon that ranching industry shouldn’t be given special treatment. And if your Senator is on the committee, tell her/him as well that you oppose giveaways to the livestock industry.

The so-called “Grazing Improvement Act” eliminates environmental review for grazing permits under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Act would also double the period of grazing permits from ten to twenty years! Both would further entrench grazing on public lands—imperiling hundreds of species including sage grouse, native trout and wolves.

At a time when our public wild lands in the west are critical for providing water and wildlife habitat and ensuring resilience to climate change we cannot afford more give-aways to the cattle industry.

Energy and Natural Resources Committee members need to hear from you.

Call Senator Wyden at (202) 224-5244 in Washington, DC, or (503) 326-7525 in Portland Oregon, and then sign on to our email letter today!

The Way

Having spent the better part of the last four days getting our winter’s firewood in and under cover, my wife and I are now looking forward to the season of longer nights and cozy fires. In honor of all that, here’s something I wrote while on a solo hike in the North Cascades National Park, camped outside an old miner’s cabin…


by Jim Robertson, circa June, 1979

There’ll be a big fire a-blazing soon
and if you’ve got the time I’d like you to
come on in and share the warmth with me.

I might not be the most social guy,
but when friends come ‘round
I like to try to show them a good time
the way it used to be.

I’d trade skiing stories with the boys out back,
while in the kitchen the women’ll yackity-yack
and we’ll get together when supper’s good and baked.

And afterwards we’ll all sit ‘round
and watch the fire as we’re burning out,
and the snoring dog will keep us entertained.

I got no TV,
no video games,
but my big stone fireplace
should take the place,
if you appreciate the way it used to be.

So if you’re all alone on this windy night,
come on in and share the light
and the warmth from the fire
the way it used to be.

Text and Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Last Blast From the Past

Here is the last in the blast from the past series for now…

First, here’s a photo from my trail clearing days. This was actually one of around 100 trees that blew down over a trail in the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area, after the US Forest Service had the hill below it clear cut. A heavy wind whipped up the freshly-cleared slope (outside the wilderness area) and, since the trees on the ridge had nothing to help them absorb the force, the old growth trees blew over. Ironically, although the clear cut (1/2 mile away) was logged with chain saws, we had to use a cross cut hand saw to clear the blow-downs (since chain saws aren’t allowed in wilderness areas).

more housepix 164

Anyway, the following is something I found that I’d written down on some notepaper while on a solo hike nearly 28 years ago…

July 8, 1985

The mid-day heat was upon me as I hiked along the shore of Ross Lake for six miles to Big Beaver Creek. On the way the vegetation went from cool fir, cedar, birch and alder forest to hot, dry lodge pole pine thickets. It was in one of these that I came across a mother grouse and her chicks.

By the time I reached the Ross Lake/Big Beaver Creek junction, I was ready for a bath. I waded into the semi-warm water by an empty horse camp and was greeted by a horde of persistent horse flies. After the bath numerous boaters and hikers passed by in route to their camps on the lake. One group who had just come down from Big Beaver valley said the mosquitos up there were terrible. As they said this, I was almost nuts slapping horse flies, but the mosquitos up there were supposed to be worse? That made me think: do I want to keep going today at 4:00, alone, just me and the mosquitos to the dark forest, or do I stay here in the sunshine and put up with the power boats and the crowds?

Well, I came here knowing I’d be alone in the dark forest with mosquitos; and besides, I wanted more adventure than watching speed boats could supply me with. So I said goodbye to the sun and views of Pumpkin Seed and Jack Mountain and followed Big Beaver Creek, past old cedars and Douglas firs.

About three miles further, I came across a fresh bear scat full of huckleberries (I noticed all the huckleberries gone from the plants I’d passed on the trail). About 75 feet further was a flat spot and an access to the creek (sort of). Here was the adventure; this would be my camp tonight. I set up my mosquito-proof hammock and spread out my food to decide what to have for supper. The thought crossed my mind that if an animal were nearby, there were more than enough smells to attract it. A few minutes later I looked up with a start to see a black bear 15 away, coming into my camp. I said, “Hey there!” which surprised him, since I don’t think he knew anyone was in camp. I told him, “It’s okay to be here, just don’t try to steal my food.” I guess he didn’t feel like staying and stepped quietly back onto the trail. As he slowly moseyed on, I felt bad about scaring him off, so I said to him, “No hard feelings…” So he sat down on the trail and scratched for a while before meandering out of sight. It was a great way to end the first day.

Day 2:

I woke to a short sprinkling of rain which lasted less than five minutes. That cloud passed and the sky was clear from then on. As I sat by the river under tall mossy cedars, a striped snake passed by. Odd place for a snake (the second one I’ve seen here) but the vegetation is so diverse it was probably just headed for another dry spot. There were also a number of bumble bees attending my breakfast party (in addition to the usual uninvited biting guests). The bumble bees seemed to be more interested in their own business than sucking my blood. Turns out they had a ground nest right in my camp (of course).

Back on the trail I passed more huge cedars and some beaver ponds, one of which I stopped at for the night. I felt that if there was wildlife anywhere, it would be here. Indeed, I’ve been hearing the snapping of twigs and footfalls all evening.

As I was having dinner a yard from the pond, there was an enormous “SPLASH!” close by. Then I saw one of the big beavers eyeing me as she swam 20 feet from my camp…followed by another SPLASH of her tail; she didn’t like my intrusion at all. No one had ever spent the night here before and she did not want it to start happening now. I told her, “It’s okay, Ms. Beaver, but “SPLASH” was her only reply. I got a good look at her fleshy tail close-up as she struck the pond in threat.

As I lay in my hammock that night, I heard her several more times. Whenever I made so much as a peep, she would come back with a “SPLASH.” I hoped she wouldn’t come and chew down the trees my hammock was tied to. (Fortunately I hadn’t read about the guy in “Beware the Beaver,” or I might be more nervous;)

Day 3:

Just as I awoke and remembered the events from the night before, ”SPLASH!” She was still on guard. The sun is half up, but the clouds are starting to move in. It’s time to follow an unexplored valley in search of friendlier wildlife…

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Call Today! The “Sportsmen’s” Act of 2012 Must Fail

URGENT!  Before you read another line, pick up your phone, call your Senators and tell them to OPPOSE S 3525 (the so-called, “Sportsmen’s” Act of 2012)! You can find the contact numbers for your senators at the following web page:

Though the threat of having to watch bowhunter Paul Ryan by crowned Vice President has passed, the specter of sport hunting still haunts the halls of Congress. Under the cunning guise of “conservation,” the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, S 3525, is a Senate version of the House’s ridiculous “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act” (what will they think of next, a Serial Murderer’s Heritage Act?).

No animal should be reduced to the level of mere object only to be “harvested” at the casual whim of jaded trophy seekers out for a diversion from their meaningless lives.

For the sake of wildlife, public lands and unspoiled wilderness nationwide, we must stop this absurd act from becoming law.

Of course, the animal’s enemies are lining up behind it. According to a new post in Outdoor Life (a popular “sportsmen’s” magazine that actually promotes outdoor death) entitled, “Must-Pass Legislation: Sportsmen’s Act of 2012,”

“The fight for the Sportsmen’s Act isn’t over. The NRA, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Boone and Crocket Club, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and a host of other national, regional and local groups are calling all hands to lobby their Senators for passage.”

Make no mistake, those of us who truly care about wildlife wouldn’t want to see this pass even if it were a painfully annoying kidney stone. The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 is a must-fail piece of legislation.


Thanks to the Animal Welfare Institute for the following action alert:

On November 13, their first day back in session following the recent election, the U.S. Senate will resume consideration of The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525). Please call and urge your Senators to oppose S. 3525.

If enacted, S. 3525 will have substantial and direct adverse impacts on wildlife, public health and existing conservation efforts. This bill would weaken protections offered by laws such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Toxic Substances Control Act and Endangered Species Act. Included in the bill’s language are provisions that would:

•Eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate hazardous substances—including lead, a dangerous neurotoxin—released by ammunition and sport fishing waste.

•Encourage federally-funded construction and expansion of public shooting ranges on state and federal land, including land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

•Amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to permit importation of polar bear carcasses taken before the species was listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 2008—including those taken despite multiple warnings of an imminent ban on imports.

This legislation, if enacted, will interfere with important statutory protections affecting animal welfare, human health, and the environment.

The Senate is moving quickly on this bill, so your help is urgently needed TODAY.  Please contact your Senators by phone, email, or fax and tell them to oppose S. 3525!

You can identify your Senators and their contact information here.

Sample Message:

As one of your constituents, I urge you to help protect human health, wildlife and public lands by voting against S. 3525. This legislation, if passed, will undermine provisions of existing conservation statutes including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act. It will also interfere with the exercise of authority by federal agencies responsible for managing federal lands and protecting public health. Please oppose S. 3525, and help to protect wildlife, habitat and the public.

Thank you,

Memos to the President

Now that the post-election reverie is dying down, it’s time to remind the president why he got our votes and what we expect from him in return.  Several environmental groups have spelled out some of the issues and concerns we all have. The following reports are from three whose newsletters I’m subscribed to, and whose websites are worth visiting…

…First, from Defenders of Wildlife:

“We congratulate President Obama on his victory and look forward to working with him and his administration in the coming months and years. With the el  ection now behind us, President Obama and the new Congress must find a balanced way to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. This budgetary gridlock is threatening to unleash a series of devastating budget cuts that will slash funding for wildlife conservation to the bone.

The harsh reality is this: If Congress doesn’t get its act together and pass a budget before December 31, a cascade of crippling budget cuts will automatically sweep through all federal programs. The effect on wildlife will be devastating.

•The listing and recovery of endangered species will be severely curtailed.

•Urgent research on threats to endangered animals — like the white-nose syndrome that is wiping out entire colonies of bats — could be abandoned.

•Wildlife law enforcement reductions will leave wildlife refuges vulnerable to criminal activity and will decimate anti-wildlife poaching and smuggling enforcement operations.

•Many national wildlife refuges, forests and parks will be closed entirely — harming local economies that benefit from millions of visitors each year.

•Many public lands’ visitor centers will close, resulting in loss of education and recreation programs that benefit outdoor enthusiasts and children.

•Important protections for migratory birds will go unenforced.

Tell your representatives in Congress to do their job, and maintain needed protections for wildlife and their habitats. When Congress returns next week, they must act to stop this budget disaster. Tell them they must come to an agreement that will not harm crucial wildlife conservation programs.”

Wildlife lovers like you and me have a busy and challenging year ahead.

… Meanwhile, from the executive director at  WildEarth Guardians: asks of the president…

“While you savor your victory and contemplate your vision for the next four years, I’d like to share my vision of how to create a brighter future for our environment and our people.

•Create a new, clean energy economy . We need a carbon tax whose basis is both moral and economic; fossil fuels are killing the planet and Sandy’s wrath is just the latest example that the climate crisis is upon us. While it’s true that Americans want energy independence, it’s also true that the continued use of fossil fuels is endangering other core freedoms like a clean, safe environment. That’s unacceptable.

•Safeguard America’s endangered species. Whether gray wolves, sperm whales or tiger beetles—all species have a right to exist. It’s our moral and ethical imperative to protect imperiled species, as is beautifully articulated in the Endangered Species Act. We must defend and strengthen the Act to ensure that future generations inherit an earth as beautiful and diverse as the one we enjoy today.

•Protect our wetlands and rivers. Aquatic ecosystems are vital, now more than ever, and the Clean Water Act is a cornerstone of protecting these vital arteries of life. In a warming, overpopulated world it is critical that we do more to ensure that rivers have secure flows and that wetlands are protected as filters to pollution and buffers to intense weather events.

•Defend our last wild public lands. One of the most enduring and unique aspects of America’s natural heritage is simply that we still have wild country left. That’s because we have public lands that keep these places wild. Places like the Greater Gila in New Mexico and Arizona, the Roan Plateau in Colorado and the Red Rock canyon country of Utah. We want you to not only defend the ideal of public lands, but also use your authority under the Antiquities Act to protect these last wild places.”

…and from the NRDC:

“American voters not only re-elected a president who made green jobs a cornerstone of his first term and his campaign, they also rejected some of the shrillest champions of Big Oil and Big Coal in key Senate races from Massachusetts to Ohio, from Virginia to New Mexico.We should be heartened that the fossil fuel lobby could throw $270 million at so many candidates hawking “drill, baby, drill” and climate denial — and get so little back on their investment.

Apparently, democracy lives … as does common sense. Voters roundly rejected an extremist agenda that says protecting polluter profits is job one, while the rest of us pay the price in illness, poisoned ecosystems and apocalyptic weather. That last point was hardly academic this Election Day, as millions in the Northeast are still struggling to recover some shred of normalcy after Hurricane Sandy.

Today, we are calling on President Obama to confront the urgent threat of global warming by reining in carbon polluters and dramatically boosting the role of renewable energy in American life. That is our very best hope for breaking Big Oil’s stranglehold on both our economy and our climate.

Toward that end, we’ll work closely with the second Obama Administration to build on great progress already made in so many sectors — like the new clean car standards we championed that will double the fuel economy of the average vehicle on the road. But we’ll also be watchdogging the administration to ensure it does the right thing: that the EPA proposes carbon limits for existing power plants … that the State Department delivers on its promise of a complete and independent review of the climate-wrecking Keystone XL tar sands pipeline … that the BLM cracks down on dangerous fracking.

Of course, NRDC always stands for the environment, not for any party or elected official. So if the Obama Administration strays from its avowed commitment to the environment, then we will hold their feet to the fire — in court — just as we’ve done with every other president over the past forty years. As you read this, we are suing the administration to save the Polar Bear Seas from Shell’s reckless plans for drilling in the Arctic … and to safeguard the very last 284 beluga whales in Alaska’s Cook Inlet from oil exploration.

Simply put, we will do everything in our power to help President Obama deliver on his goals of clean energy and environmental protection. But NRDC will hold him accountable — for our planet’s sake — if and when he falls short. As for Congress, it is time for the House Republican leadership and Tea Party members to face reality: the American people are in no mood for more ideological intransigence. By rejecting Big Oil’s candidates, voters sent a message loud and clear that they want more clean energy, less climate denial and an end to the $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels. Those are the priorities NRDC will be putting front and center when the lame duck session of Congress begins next week.”

…No doubt we’ll have to continue to repeatedly remind our politicians that though the animals don’t vote, we can and will continue to vote for them and for the natural habitats they call home.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved