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« Egypt Opposes Democracy - State Department Disappointed | Main | Haveil Havelim »

That's One Dysfunctional Family

According to the Rocky Mountain News, more and more Westerners think of wildlife as "family." Right. Except family don't normally think of each other as dinner.

Look, my dog is family, a companion. That bobcat shadowing me to make sure I don't get too close to her real family, not so much. CSU professor Mike Manfredo, who seems to be a last bastion of common sense in academia, is quoted extensively:

CSU professor Mike Manfredo, who headed the study, said 50 years ago when there were a higher number of people living in rural areas, the majority probably believed in hunting wild animals.

But as more people moved into the state, often from large U.S. cities, the number holding those beliefs began to change.

Television shows that foster concern and even familiarity with wildlife by those who may never go into the country contribute to the trend, Manfredo said.

The study even found some people who said if there was an accident involving a human and an animal, they would help the animal first.

The reason for the change in attitude, Manfredo said, is the people moving into western states come from highly urbanized areas, usually with higher personal incomes, and have attitudes more opposed to the traditional values of hunting and fishing.

This kind of romanticizing of wildlife is what leads to biopics like these. That these "activists" were probably dumber than the average bear doesn't seem to have diminished peoples' sympathy for them. This wasn't "tragic," except maybe as an indictment of their local public education system.

But it's not just that they've been inculcated with post-modern a-dog-is-a-boy-is-a-fish-is-a-mosquito attitudes. It's also the hair- and consciousness-raising experience of running into an animal without a plexiglass wall or a chain-link fence to help you out. People who have to deal with real bears on a regular basis tend to take a somewhat dimmer view. And in places where the bears have figured out that we're as scared of them as they are of us, it's starting to get testy again.

Just for fun, here's the data from the survey (not given online), with the remainder taking either a live-and-let-kill approach, or just not caring:

New Mexico35.231.93.3
North Dakota46.115.530.6
South Dakota49.915.134.8

And just for fun, I charted the difference between the bubbas and the pooh-bears against the state-by-state margin for Bush vs. Kerry:

There's an old joke that goes like this. The local government of Alberta, or Montana, or someplace where easterners go to indulge their fantasies, issues a bulletin. They advise backcountry hikers to wear bear bells to warn bears that they're coming, and to carry pepper spray for any bears that don't take the hint. They also suggest that you can tell black bears and grizzly bears apart by looking at their droppings. Black bear droppings are small and have seeds in them. Grizzly bear droppings have bells and smell like pepper.

These results shouldn't surprise anyone, especially someone who know what a pheasant hunt looks like, and that you don't crawl around on your belly to hunt deer. But it does seem to suggest a connection between understanding reality and having to deal with it on occasion.

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