An Alternative Path to Grizzly Recovery in the Lower 48 States
Photo courtesy of Florian Schulz
Implementing this plan will rely on collective knowledge, a willingness to learn, and more open communications and relationships between citizens, conservationists and governments to accomplish what none can do alone: create a safe and sustainable future for the bear and the communities that depend on its ecosystems. It demands reengaging a public that is increasingly wary the government and the rules that come with the bear. And, it requires thinking and acting in short and long-term time frames, and at multiple scales. Thus, working on small-scale community sanitation projects is no less important than large-scale restoration of habitat across the U.S./Canada border.
Perhaps most importantly, it relies on a sense of humility, recognizing that there is much we still do not know. And the world continues to surprise us. Who would have predicted 20 years ago, for example, such profound events as the introduction of Lake trout into Yellowstone Lake, the spread of white pine blister rust, or the emergence of all terrain vehicles as one of the most significant threats to public lands? Because the future is so uncertain, we chose a conservative course to hedge our bets -- a direction justified for populations down to the last 1 percent of former numbers.
The window of opportunity is closing fast on our remaining grizzlies. But the practical steps outlined here are well within our reach, good for the bear and the region's economy, and future of wilderness in the West. If we fail to seize the moment, and lose the grizzly in the lower 48 states, will future generations forgive us?
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