Black bear and tiger friends raised together
“We can’t imagine living without Wi-Fi, but we can imagine living without salmon, polar bears, lions, tigers and bears.” Derrick Jensen, Earth at Risk
Derrick Jensen asks the Earth at Risk crowd: “How many think this culture hates women? Hates nature? Has a death wish? Is insane?” The majority raise their hands.
People care more about the Chicago Bears than real bears. The little bear in this video, found clinging to her dead mother, is as adorable as any football player, but are hundreds of thousands celebrating her? Au contraire — every year over 100,000 people pay into a Wisconsin DNR lottery for the “sport” of killing 5,000 bears just like her.
The April 11 statewide election of delegates to the Conservation Congress, the sole advisory group to the Wisconsin Legislature on governing our endangered natural commons, is a pathetic sham. After 82 years, these Department of Natural Resources elections and hearings remain dominated by hunters, trappers and hounders. Hunters continue to spin the ridiculous tale that killing is conservation. Killing is supposedly a life-saving endeavor.
Even in “progressive” Dane County, the progressives evidently do not recognize that nature and wildlife are important.
The DNR reports that a total of 4,363 people statewide attended the meetings held April 11 in their counties this year. Yet the number of voters at the beginning of the evening totaled 3,831 and declined to 2,758 by the end. Wisconsin has a population of over 5.8 million. Pretending that this election is representative of the citizens of this state is a tragic farce. It is not even representative of the 10 percent of the population who are hunters.
Although Dane County had enough attendees with a humane perspective to vote out lead shot with their advisory vote and to vote against trappers destroying the tiny otter population, trappers dominated statewide and voted to keep using lead shot, and to give all 16,000 trappers two otter kill tags each (32,000 tags on 8,000-10,000 otters). It is a no-brainer that the otter population will be destroyed. The otter is a flagship species guarding river health. There may be one pair per 17 miles of Wisconsin rivers — but the DNR is ever-pandering to more opportunity to recruit more trappers.
One first-time attendee blurted out: “Why would you kill otters?” When the DNR said “for their skins,” she cried, “I am appalled.”
Few, if any, scientists or biologists from UW attend. Political leaders rarely show. Church officials supporting the sanctity of wildlife as well as human life aren’t an obvious presence, either.
The environmental groups like the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and Nature Conservancy do not come to these meetings to stand against hunting and trapping our wildlife, and some are actually heavily influenced by their hunter members. In fact, the Nature Conservancy allows hunting on 98 percent of its land in Wisconsin.
This is an election that would be cartoonish in its absurd lack of democracy if it were not so deadly.
I have attended every election since I learned about it in 1997. I know important decisions are made affecting my private land and our public lands. The future of millions of innocent lives is at stake.
Why aren’t we exercising our citizen rights at this critical time? This death culture is ultimately suicidal for our own species, and deservedly so.
Jennifer Laack, a first-time Dane county attendee and outdoor enthusiast, ran for the two-year position to represent Dane County as a camper and hiker. One of her opponents stood and gave his pitch for the position: “I am a lifetime hunter. Enough said.”
Laack wrote her impressions to Kari-Lee Zimmermann, DNR/Conservation Congress liaison: “I think it is clear that this Conservation Congress is really a hunting/fishing/trapping forum. I agree fully with sentiments/comments made of others in attendance that even the choices available on the voting ballets aren’t really choices. An entire segment of Wisconsinites with differing beliefs are left with their viewpoints being marginalized by not really having a say or a choice that reflects their viewpoints or beliefs. I’m certain that I am not the only citizen of Wisconsin to feel this way about the Conservation Congress and that in 2016 when there are significant conservation and ethics issues at play that the current Conservation Congress established 82 years ago may be outdated or mostly applicable to special interests-hunters, anglers and trappers.”
Laack asks how to set up a congress for the 90 percent of us who do not kill wildlife. It could address biodiversity destruction, trapping’s connection to Lyme disease, water quality and mining, packs of dogs ripping apart wildlife, climate change, renewable energy. It could bring fair general public funding to the DNR to replace the bias toward killing created by funding the agency largely with permits, and could push for fair non-hunter representation on committees and the Natural Resources Board. It could access independent scientists as advisers.
Derrick Jensen closes his Earth at Risk speech with: “What do you love? Whatever you love is under assault. The biggest distinction is between those who do something for the greater good and those who do nothing.”