Last weekend we took a bike packing trip that took us through the Grand Teton national park, national forest and parts of the great divide mountain bike route. This is a spectacular part of the country with large swaths of remote wilderness still intact. It feels good to get out and enjoy the quiet of the mountains, with just the hum of my bike tires on the gravel. As we rolled along I was hoping to spot a bear or mountain lion lurking in the trees but instead I came across a herd of cattle grazing through the forest, our land being leased out for pennies on the dollar to ranchers looking for a cheap way to fatten these gentle creatures to be slaughtered. On top of this another reason I wasn’t seeing wild animals is because they are being wiped out by Wildlife services, also on our tax dollar, to appease the ranchers that are afraid these animals will kill there “commodities”. If you are unfamiliar with this rogue government agency check out this video, Exposed, made by the Predator Defense organization.
Waking up to the smell of cow poo and mooing in the morning made me angry, and thinking about everything that we lose when wilderness does not remain wild made me even angrier. These are things we cannot put a price tag on, there is no reason that our government should be killing animals to “protect” other animals, which shouldn’t be getting killed in the first place, while destroying and degrading the few wild places we have left.
On the last night of our trip we heard the hooting of a great horned owl and went to investigate. As we walked down the trail in the twilight I spotted two deer when all of a sudden the owl we had heard came gliding ever so gracefully towards us and perched on a tree. It is moments like that which I cannot stand to think of losing because of the greed of a few. There are groups working tirelessly towards protecting wildlife and wilderness that could use as much support as possible. Animal Legal Defense Fund has recently made progress on blocking wildlife services contract renewal in Monterey county California. Wildlife services must now complete an environmental-review process before killing anymore wildlife (they killed 2.7 million animals in the U.S. in 2014, the last year data is available) after a court admonished the county for its baseless claim that the wildlife killing program would not affect the environment. Let us hope that this decision holds up and can become a precedent for other counties.
Some other organizations making a difference are: