Last night my wife and I watched City Slickers, a film from the very early 1990s which was a commercial success here in the United States.(I had just driven 700 miles in 50mph wind and was semi-delirious.) For most people, including us, it was a simple, entertaining, funny-at-times film about three guys from New York who end up on a cattle drive in New Mexico. As expected, everything goes wrong. But the guys make it out, deliver the herd and feel good about themselves. Right up until they find out the herd is going to slaughter and won’t be returned to pasture.
Oops. The idea the herd was bred for food didn’t factor in. Their exposure to the West was through the brochure for the cattle drive which was offering an authentic, western experience. When the scene landed and the main characters stood shocked I said to my wife “That is probably the majority of the American population.” (I’m not faulting people, just making an observation. The same could be said about those I encounter who don’t know New Mexico is part of the United States.)
As I write this our western lands are being decimated by private industry, commercial fossil fuel industry, agriculture (in some ways), the social media masses, and the loss of large ranches which are being sold off, sectioned then sold again as “ranchitos” for wealthy folks from the city who want their piece of the “frontier.” I can’t stress enough how bad this is, not just for our country in the long term but also for the range of animal that calls this habitat home. Now we have an Interior Department headed and controlled by crooks who are securing deals for fossil fuel companies then quitting and heading off into the private sector where they can live out their wealth fantasies. Remember Zinke and Pruitt?
Bryce Andrews delivers us “Down from the Mountain,” which tracks the train wreck that is the merger of “progress” with the life of the grizzly bear. It does not end well. Andrews is a rancher himself but takes on a job at a conservation group that aims to help the animal/man situation as best they can. Andrews takes his stand in a cornfield that is being decimated by bears which will not go back to their natural food sources once they find something as easy and fattening as corn. As you can imagine, this creates quite an issue.
But this issue is but one of many that intertwin proving what looks to be an impossible scenario. But it’s not impossible. This comes down to one thing; education. Do I have ANY hope that our population can be educated? No. Not much at all. But here is what I would love for you to do. Find your grizzly. No matter where you live in the world you can find your grizzly because of the explosion of growth for growth’s sake, the greed of our species can be found on every single inch of this planet. Find what is LOCAL to you and educate yourself on how you can get involved. Once the lands are gone they are gone forever. And looking at wild via Instagram isn’t actually looking at wild. (Please remember this.)
This book is well worth the read. Get it, read it.