A grab bag of rants

Here’s a quick grab bag of newsie items that generated some
mini-rants from me this week.

Cougar corner

First, from the “alert the media” file, I see that the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service on Wednesday declared the eastern cougar
extinct. This, according to the Associated Press story, confirms a
near-universal belief (I’d say “fact”) that America wiped out
native eastern cougars 100 years ago.

Gee, did researchers watch for passenger pigeons while they were
looking for “ghost cats”? They had about an equal chance of seeing
either.

Cougars are gone in the eastern U.S. and they’ve been gone for all
practical human memory. Manifest destiny, not to mention
government-subsidized bounties and poisonings, ensured extinction
for all large predators in most of the Lower 48. Look at pictures
of much of the eastern U.S. from 100 years ago. Mr. Peabody’s Coal
Train ensured it sure as hell wasn’t cougar habitat. It was barely
white-footed deer mouse habitat.

Society learned from that, however, and now parts of the eastern
U.S. probably could support cougars, and probably will. Eventually,
cougars from the west will make their way back (it’s happening now
in Minnesota), and they’ll make a good living in deer-filled
forests of the east.

Other than a few escapees from morons who keep the species as pets,
there are no cougars in the East. I like cougars and wolves and
personally believe they have a place in Minnesota and eventually
eastern forests. Unlike many animal rights idiots who regard all
“charismatic megafauna” as untouchable sentient souls, this scribe
strongly believes in managing them – and maintaining their fear of
people – via guns and hounds.

Still, I keep wondering: Why was a study necessary? Was some group
suggesting we declare the eastern U.S. endangered cougar
habitat?

Bears in Minnesota

Speaking of charismatic megafauna, black bears have been in the
news again in Minnesota this week. On Tuesday, the DNR decided not
to extend added protection to Lynn Rogers’ research bears in the
Ely area.

This was a great call by DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr and his
staff.

Rogers and his research have been such a thorn in the side of sound
wildlife management in this state that if I were king for a day,
I’d pull his permit. Given all the folks who watch Mr. Rogers’ bear
web cams, however, that would probably generate more protests than
the angry teachers in Wisconsin.

Personally, I don’t care for Rogers’ methods, and I suspect the
DNR doesn’t either. I’ll paraphrase a friend on Twitter who said,
“I’m not a fan of people who turn wild/dangerous animals into pets
and call it ‘research.'” Exactly. Bigger picture: Black bears
belong to the state of Minnesota, not Mr. Rogers. To those who
whine about hunters taking “their bears,” I’ll point out that
hunters compensate the state to kill black bears.

There’s been some public backlash to the DNR decision, mostly by
idiots who have no clue about the history of black bears in this
state. Up until the 1970s, the same callous attitude toward
wildlife and wild places that drove cougars extinct in the east had
drastically reduced black bears here. They literally were
classified as unprotected vermin, like opossums and skunks. Hunters
played an important role in reclassifying bears as a game species,
and like most species when properly managed, their numbers climbed
steadily. Generally in my tenure here at Outdoor News, the state
has been trying to determine ways to kill more bears, not
fewer.

Of course, the license fees bear hunters pay help manage the bears
and fund research into the animals. So to all of you spectators now
pissing and moaning about a couple of Lynn Rogers’ bears meeting
their end with a slug through the lungs: From all hunters, I say:
You’re welcome.

Getting ruddy in the UK

Saw some whining banter on Twitter about United Kingdom killing
4,400 ruddy ducks in the British Isles. Here is
the BBC story.

A non-native species there, the ruddies apparently interbreed with
a similar species, the white-headed duck in Spain. With more
hybrids and fewer pure-bred white ducks, the interbreeding has
threatened the latter species’ existence. There’s a simple solution
here: wipe out the ruddies.

The ruddy duck is originally from the United States, and came to
the UK in the 1940s. My only problem with the UK’s decent plan is
that it doesn’t go far enough: It should eliminate the ruddy ducks
in that nonnative region. No one loves seeing ruddy ducks more than
me, but there are few exotics that I believe shouldn’t be
eliminated.

Lots of birders and other just plain dizzy animal rights people are
whining about the UK government killing these birds. Want to help
ruddy ducks? Work harder to create and protect habitat for the
species here in their native North American range. I do that all
the time.

Public lands

A number of readers have called or emailed me to say that they’ve
contacted their state representative to urge him or her to remove
their name from the dumb “no net gain” of public lands bill. Thank
you for everyone who called their rep, and I know at least one rep
has pulled his name from the bill.

That column, “The newest form of ‘anti-hunting'” remains posted (on
my blog page) and relevant for those of you who missed it two weeks
ago.

Help protect public wild lands: It’s the best way to protect
cougars, black bears, and ruddy ducks.

Categories: Rob Drieslein

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *