bear cubs

Bear cubs at the North American Bear Education Center in northern Minnesota.

"In other words, it might be too late for saving us from ourselves." — Markus Fraundorfer, University of Sao Paolo, Brazil

It is my greatest honor, and most difficult task, to stand up for the lives and innocence of fellow wildlife — born into the mystery of life just like us. As humans have forced a million species to the brink of extinction, polluted the atmosphere and oceans, overpopulated our one species and forced a climate crisis that threatens the survival of all life on earth, it is time to empower the last 4% of mammals that are wild by recognizing their personhood.

Bears are killed indiscriminately — most of them cubs — without trial, without committing any offense, and certainly without hoarding billions of other animals in horrific conditions merely for slaughter. Any fair human being would see that our wildlife deserve protection, habitat and the freedom to live and contribute their vital support to the intricate web of life.

According to law (self-serving, short-term thinking, man-made law), animals are “things,” not “persons,” so one species rules all.

We see how that is going.

Bears are not “things” to be killed at will. Steven Wise, who wrote "Rattling the Cage, Toward Legal Rights for Animals," in 2000, also started the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP). His TED talk can be viewed here.

There are legal cases standing up for primate and bear personhood. When a corporation moved a spectacled bear named Chucho from a nature reserve in the Andes to a zoo, a law professor became the bear’s attorney and filed a Nonhuman Rights Project–inspired habeas corpus petition in the courts.

In a first for Colombian animal law jurisprudence, Judge Luis Armando Tolosa Villabona ordered Chucho returned to the cloud forest reserve, ruling, “If fictitious legal entities (such as corporations) are subjects of rights, for what reason should those who are alive or are ‘sentient beings’ not be so?” 

This is such a magnificent argument and judgement. However, their Supreme Court overturned the ruling. It was then appealed.

“If it is possible that under any circumstances their fundamental interests should count, then they should be designated as persons, for this then gives them the capacity for legal rights to protect their most fundamental interests," Wise said in a message to the court.

I lobbied for Tony Evers to be governor because he claimed to be a compassionate man concerned for the welfare and education of children. He has betrayed that trust and fueled the killing business of the Department of (Un)Natural Resources by appointing Preston Cole as DNR secretary — secretary of the status quo destruction of life.

Wisconsin is estimated to have fewer than 29,000 bears — a questionable assessment since there is little science and much agenda in the state wildlife killing agency. The state of California, according to its Department of Fish and Wildlife, claims a population of 40,000 bears.

Last year, California planned to cut off the bear hunt if 1,700 bears were killed. The hunt ended having killed 1,349 bears. The Wisconsin DNR has authorized the killing of 3,835 bears — more than 13% of our bears if the count is correct. So why such a large percentage if the state of California kills only 3% of its larger population?

It is time to stop killing our wildlife and transform the outdated DNR killing business to a humane partnership with the web of life we are destroying. No more bear killing, no more trapping of hundreds of thousands of wildlife. It is not just a moral issue, but a survival and health issue for all life.

Heather Johnson, a biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, led a six-year study of black bears and hunting in Colorado. It upends the supposed science of killing bears to control supposed human-bear conflicts.

David Frey, managing editor for The Wildlife Society, penned an article about the study in April 2017. In it he quotes Johnson:

"The findings suggest that lethal removal of bears may not be an effective tool for reducing human-bear conflicts, and that it could have bigger impacts on bear populations than biologists previously believed, particularly in years when natural foods are scarce.”

Frey noted that the study "found that bear encounters don’t decrease even if bear populations fall and that bears don’t necessarily become habituated to human food sources."

Those two findings, he wrote, "upend common wisdom about bears that has largely guided how wildlife officials manage bear populations around humans.”

Johnson's research shows that “reducing garbage and other attractants seems to be effective in reducing run-ins with bears,” Frey wrote.

With climate warming, bear hibernation periods may shorten by 15 to 40 days, leaving bears in more contact with humans. The study strongly recommends bear-proof garbage cans dispersed by state agencies and control of human garbage and human behavior, rather than killing bears for being hungry.

The research of Markus Fraundorfer, of the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil, focuses on profound social, political and economic transformation processes taking place in the global governance system. In an article last fall, Fraundorfer told the nature website Mongabay that market-based systems, where conservation policies are often seen as barriers to progress, may have already pushed us past the tipping point for protecting the planet's remaining biodiversity.

"In other words," he said, "it might be too late for saving us from ourselves."

The bear kill in Wisconsin runs Sept. 4 to Oct. 8. Please contact Gov. Evers and ask him to end this slaughter of our bears. Democratize the DNR with saving licenses instead of just killing licenses. A hunter kills an animal forever; humane citizens should have the right to save an animal forever.

Action Alert:

“The Trump administration is scaling back the U.S. government’s latitude to protect species nearing extinction, as world scientists warn that a biodiversity crisis will soon put humanity at risk. The changes to how the government implements the Endangered Species Act, lauded by industry, will make it harder to protect the most vulnerable creatures."

The bear kill in Wisconsin is Sept. 4-Oct. 8. Please contact Gov. Evers and ask him to end this slaughter of our bears. Democratize the DNR with saving licenses instead of just killing licenses. A hunter kills an animal forever — humane citizens should have the right to save an animal forever.

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. or

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