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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

With both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump calling out the "rigged" D.C.beltway insiders during this election cycle, biologist John Laundre today calls out the "rigged/insider" wildlife management policies of our state Game Agencies..............John points out that the NORTH AMERICAN MODEL FOR WILDLIFE CONSERVATION proclaims that wildlife belong to the public trust(meaning you, me and every U.S. citizen)..........However, he vividly points out in his treatise below that "Wildlife ownership and management in most of the U.S. is no longer the providence of the many but of the few"..................... "Every day decisions being made that influence the fate not only of game species but all wildlife and the ecosystems they live in are made not by the democratic process but by a small self-appointed class of citizens---hunters"......................... "This small class of citizens only comprises 6% of the adult population in the U.S.".................. "Yet they and the state game commissions they own have the only and final say regarding wildlife, at the exclusion of the other 94% of the citizens and 99% of the wildlife" ..............."Wildlife are not managed for all but for the enjoyment and benefit of this elite class".................. "As long as this system exists, we have indeed created the same type of feudal ownership and management of wildlife that our ancestors tried to avoid"............. "We have created the beast that they abhorred"

We have created the monster we feared

by John Laundre

A part of the oppressive feudal system that was inflicted on Europe during the late Middle ages, 12th Century and onward, was the enforcement of a strict ownership system. It was a system where the few elite rich landlords, all the way up to the king, not only owned the land but all the wildlife on it. These wildlife resources were deemed only for the enjoyment and benefit of this elite class. There were strict laws forbidding common people from hunting or using this wildlife, with severe penalties imposed on those that broke those laws. The feudal landlords hired special game managers to propagate the desired species they wanted to hunt and to rid the lands of those that interfered with that goal, mainly predators. 

Hunters should not be the only voice dictating the management of wildlife

Such a system left most people of the land on the outside looking in. Left them no say in the management of these animals. Left them to be scorned and punished if they interfered in any way with the overriding goal of providing abundant wildlife for the sport bags of the nobility.
Needless to say when colonialists, escaping the oppression of such a feudal land/wildlife ownership system, started their new life in what was to become the United States, they vowed to not repeat the past mistakes of this old feudal system, especially with regards to wildlife ownership. In the budding revolution of democracy, The U.S. was likely the first country since before the 12th century where ownership and control of wildlife was not the privilege of a small elite class but a sovereign right of all citizens. It is upon this foundation that the management and conservation of our wildlife resources are supposed to be based. I contend however, that though initial intentions were good, the present-day descendants of these freedom loving colonialists have come full circle and have created the same type of wildlife management system their ancestors detested. 

Hikers should have a voice managing our wildlife

Because of efforts by some to abolish this democratic ownership of wildlife, relatively recent legal decisions in the late 1800'shave reaffirmed that wildlife resources belong to the "state", meaning all its citizens. The words in these decisions are egalitarian words to be sure, sounding as to if enshrine the democratic process in the management of this resource supposedly owned by all. The first "sister" of the North American Model for wildlife conservation (NAM) repeats these words proclaiming that wildlife belong to the public trust. The third sister declares "Democratic rule of law" in their management. However, it is only in words does it sound like wildlife in this country belong to all citizens or that there is any form of democracy in their management.

This is because the people wanting wildlife to be for the few rather than the many have won! They have found a surreptitiousway to do circumvent these words. To make wildlife again the dominion of the few, the elite. Despite the laws, the in practice the democracy of ownership has been eroded, perverted, changed to the very system of wildlife ownership and management that our forefathers abhorred. 

Campers should have a say managing our wildlife

Wildlife ownership and management in most of the U.S. is no longer the providence of the many but of the few. Every day decisions being made that influence the fate not only of game species but all wildlife and the ecosystems they live in are made not by the democratic process but by a small self-appointed class of citizens….huntersThis small class of citizens only comprise6% of the adult population in the U.S. Yet they and the state game commissions they own have the only and final say regarding wildlife, at the exclusion of the other 94% of the citizens and 99% of the wildlife.

Like the feudal system, this small class of citizens feel entitled to "ownership" of wildlife. This entitlement comes from a hunter created system in which by decree, the only financial resources to be used for the management of wildlife comes from…hunters. Thus, though by law all wildlife belong to everyone, in most states, the understood rule of thumb is: "Those who pay, get the say". Hunters do not deny and even brag about the fact that because they pay the salaries, the operations of state game agencies, they should be the only ones that have a say in how this wildlife is managed.  They say they take pride in the fact that they do not get money from the general funds, having us believe it is to keep politics out of game management. But what they really mean is that as long as they only use hunters' fees, they don't need to listen to the other 94%, the non-hunting citizens of the state. 

Bird Watchers should have a say in managing our wildlife

This exclusion of the "serfs" from decision making regarding wildlife effectively strips the rest of us of any "ownership" supposedly bestowed by the laws that hunters like to flaunt. The exclusive use of hunting fees for the management of wildlife then is the single most important 
justification that hunters use to defend their monopoly on wildlife and thus maintains the feudal system. A system where hunters are the "lords" and they and only they have a say over wildlife.
Like the feudal system of old, the management of wildlife is dictated by this small elite class through their hand-picked managers.

 The hunting industry would like the rest of us to think that these managers are public servants, beholding to all. However, because many state game agencies operate solely on the revenue of license fees, they are NOT public entities. They are in a sense large private hunting clubs run under the illusion of being public. They are bought and paid for by the 6% of the population, mostly white male, well to do elite class that feels they own the game.  And the game "managers" of these agencies are not public servants. They are paid servants of this elite class and as such, are bound to do the bidding of hunters. Thus like the game managers of the kings and lords, their sole job, as described by a past Fish and Game director in Idaho is to: provide more game for the bag…period. 

City folks should have a say in how we manage our wildlife

The one reprehensible difference of this system from the old European feudal system is that most of this private management and hunting is done on public land! Though we all pay for the maintenance of these lands and thus the wildlife on them, this does not seem to bestow any level of ownership or say in the management of the wildlife there. Hunters and their minions make unilateral decisions on these lands, many of them federal lands so belonging to all citizens, that include massive removal of certain species to protect favored game species of the hunting "lords".  They instigate a policy of "more game for the bag" without regard to the impact of these policies on the rest of the ecosystems nor to human health.  In a sense our public lands have become the private hunting clubs for the hunting industry where they make the rules regarding wildlife.

Rural folks should have a say in how we manage our wildlife

Lastly, like the system of old, if anyone raises their voice against this modern day feudal hierarchy, they are "punished" with public ridicule as not knowing enough about how nature works to make these decisions. Their efforts are marginalized and at times they are even threatened for questioning what hunters believe is their inalienable right to be the lords of nature.

As long as hunters continue to insist that they and they alone have the majority say in wildlife decisions and game agencies continue to only receive revenue from hunters, we do not have a democracy concerning wildlife resources as hollowly proclaimed in the NAM. Wildlife are not held in the public trust but are the "property" of the members of a small, elite, wealthy class. Wildlife are not managed for all but for the enjoyment and benefit of this elite class. As long as this system exists, we have indeed created the same type of feudal ownership and management of wildlife that our ancestors tried to avoid. We have created the beast that they abhorred. 

Read John Laundre's most recent book

John Laundre is one of the three scientists
who put forth the storied LANDSCAPE OF FEAR paradigm

The Landscape of Fear: Ecological Implications of Being Afraid

The Open Ecology Journal2010, 3: 1-7

John W. Laundre, Lucina Hernandez, William J. Ripple

“Predation risk” and “fear” are concepts well established in animal behavior literature. We expand these concepts to develop the model of the “landscape of fear”. The landscape of fear represents relative levels of predation risk as peaks and valleys that reflect the level of fear of predation a prey experiences in different parts of its area of use. We provide observations in support of this model regarding changes in predation risk with respect to habitat types, and terrain characteristics. We postulate that animals have the ability to learn and can respond to differing levels of predation risk. We propose that the landscape of fear can be quantified with the use of well documented existing methods such as givingup densities, vigilance observations, and foraging surveys of plants. We conclude that the landscape of fear is a useful visual model and has the potential to become a unifying ecological concept.

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