Episode 24 - George Wuerthner
Meet George Wuerthner, a prolific author, gifted photographer, and expert in natural history and Wilderness. He has logged countless miles on foot, canoe and skis to explore wildlands that support our wildlife, including grizzlies. George has several advanced degrees in field sciences, and, in the tradition of Wilderness champions such as Aldo Leopold and Bob Marshall, he has become one of the greatest living authorities of public lands and Wilderness. George has written more than 30 books – guides to Wilderness and natural history, as well as gorgeous yet terrifying coffee table books such as Clearcutting and Thrillcraft.
"And then the bear dove into the water and grabbed the salmon -- and so this fisherman has got a grizzly on the end of his line basically, and he’s like panicking, and grabs his knife, and cuts his line, and races for the shore."
"…the biggest problem is that the bears are not at a population in the Yellowstone area where you can say with certainty that they are going to survive into the future. There’s still too few of them. And the bears have unoccupied habitat, particularly in the area south of Jackson in the Wyoming Range and the along the Idaho border, the Caribou Mountains, and other – Palisades etc. These are areas that could support more bears and increase the population tremendously."
"To make an analogy, [grazing livestock] is like putting picnic baskets out there for them, for the bears to find. So, you have four legged picnic baskets all over the landscape. And then we kill the bears, because they happen to find the picnic baskets…And the strangeness of it, of course, if anybody’s familiar with places like Yellowstone, if you leave a picnic basket out on a picnic table at a campground for the night, you’ll get a fine. So, we allow the livestock industry to put all these four legged picnic baskets all over the landscape, and there’s no consequences to them, or incentive other than to diminish the losses -- for them to do something differently…And, if, for example, there is a depredation, then the cattle or the sheep should be moved, not the bears. And right now, the opposite is true."
"And what we have in Greater Yellowstone is a world-class wildland that’s in the temperate zone -- and there are very few examples around the whole world like that. And it should be that protecting that wildness and that world class attribute should be the primary purpose of all the managing agencies."
"I think that when we look down the road, it will be a diminished landscape for the most part, that we’ll have less wildness and less wildlife, unless we change in attitude how humans relate to the world and start considering other nonhuman elements out there, and try to create space for them."
MORE ON GEORGE
Gallatin Range Wilderness Needs Defenders, The Wildlife News, 03/01/18
The Premature Delisting of the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear, Counter Punch, 12/05/17
It's time to prioritize wolves over livestock, Crosscut, 10/23/17