But why stop at getting rid of the bluefin tuna? Conservative preacher Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association says "If it’s a choice between grizzlies and humans, the grizzlies have to go. And it’s time." (H/t TPMmuckracker.) Fishcher was incensed by an article in the Los Angeles Times recounting the hardships the endangered bears are facing, even in their stronghold in the Greater Yellowstone region.
A number of complex factors are believed to be working against grizzlies, including climate change. Milder winters have allowed bark beetles to decimate the white-bark pine, whose nuts are a critical food source for grizzlies. Meanwhile, there has been a slight seasonal shift for plants that grizzlies rely on when they prepare to hibernate and when they emerge in the spring, changing the creatures' denning habits.
The result, some biologists say, is that bears accustomed to feasting on berries and nuts in remote alpine areas are being pushed into a more meat-dependent diet that puts them on a collision course with the other dominant regional omnivore: humans.
Reporter Julie Cart notes that 48 bears have died from human causes thus far this year, while two people have been killed by bears. That's where Fischer puts his foot down:
Ms. Cart continues her angst-ridden piece by making a statement that is ludicrous on its face:
"With more bears and more people stuffed into the 22,000 square miles of bear habitat, something has to give, and no one here has a simple answer.”
Of course there is a simple answer: shoot these man-eaters on sight.
Fischer's view is extreme, but perhaps only for the moment. Cart explores the possible fate of the griz should dwindling food supplies in Yellowstone lead to increased interaction with neighboring humans:
"Public tolerance is starting to wane somewhat," said Mark Bruscino, bear management supervisor for Wyoming's Department of Game and Fish. "You can look at the mountains and know there are grizzly bears there — that sits pretty good with people. But when you go to your kid's 4-H facility and bears have ruined the place, that changes things. People in Wyoming think they have enough bears."
Coincidentally, the January/February 2011 issue of Sierra will feature a story on this very topic, so stay tuned. And to whet your interest, check out this amazing amateur video of a hungry grizzly trying to run down a wounded bison in Yellowstone.