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  • Writer's pictureLouisa Willcox

Episode 11 - Bethany Cotton

Bethany Cotton

Bethany Cotton of Wild Earth Guardians is a leading light in the fight to protect grizzly bears, wolves, lynx, bobcat and the wild nature of the American West. She started early, testifying at a hearing against a proposed mine (still not built) at the age of 12, and made the decision to become an environmental attorney in high school. You can't help but be inspired by her passion and moved by her resilience and tenacity.


"In my work I often think about the Margaret Mead quote that: "Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world. It is the only thing that ever has.” It certainly has proven true. We don’t win all the time, but we can."

"Wolves are coming back to Oregon. For me it’s this incredible story of resilience, that despite all the damage, and everything that humans have done to target these species, that if we leave them alone, that they will re-establish themselves. And they will bring balance back to the damaged ecosystem. Then it helps me be hopeful about the future."

"You’re supposed to know what you’re shooting at before you shoot. But the government's allowing folks to get away with killing protected species. And it happens for grizzly bears -- and if folks say they thought it was a black bear then they often get away with it. It’s a really serious problem."

"It’s time to put an end to trapping everywhere. That that practice is antiquated and cruel, and it’s time for us to evolve beyond it and put an end to poisoning animals, and to aerial gunning. These are species that naturally regulate their populations if you leave them alone."

"We looked at examples like some of these ranches that are instigating all of the non-lethal management techniques and using dogs, and range riders, and fladry, and solar powered electric fences, and calving barns -- and putting into place these more modern technologies to live on this landscape in the company of bears and wolves and other carnivores. And I think that is the way of the future."

"My motivation is love and outrage. Love for the animals and the places, outrage at the way our species has treated them, and a responsibility to undo as much of that damage as I possibly can."


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