Essay by Peggy Godfrey
Wildlife Management – May 1994 – Colorado Central Magazine
Just pick up a metro paper or turn on the tv news, and you see that our big cities have problems with violent gangs, and the obvious solutions aren’t acceptable to many well-meaning people.
Meanwhile, we have problems here with coyotes, bears, lions, and the like, and the obvious solution also affronts many well-meaning people.
We could please civil libertarians, peace-loving urban residents, ranchers tired of losing livestock, and urban environmentalists with a simple solution — move certain endangered predators, such as grizzly bears and wolves, to the metropolis to deal with their predators, which, alas, are not endangered. Many benefits come to mind:
1) People will see the reality of predators and prey, which will instill some common sense into urban environmentalists who have tunnel vision and a Disneyfied view of benevolent Mother Nature. Garbage will be removed from alleys without any expense, and the population of rats and unwanted pets will decline dramatically, again saving public money.
2) Within moments of their demise, victims of violent crime will feed the city’s new pets. Fewer crimes will be noticed or reported, and thus taxes will decrease as less money is spent on cops, courts, and prisons.
3) As rats, pets, and untended children become less available, the wolf packs and grizzly bears will turn to the thugs. If the thugs try to shoot first — well, killing an endangered species is a severe offense, strictly enforced to date, and this should force many indiscriminate criminals off the streets.
4) Given those severe penalties for harming an endangered species, drivers in the city will be much more careful, lest they inadvertently run into one. A wounded animal is often vicious, and could retaliate on the spot, thus getting drunk drivers off the road — for good.
5) The animals should stay fairly healthy even if they eat carrion produced by drug users, since the drug quantities are usually relatively small in comparison to body mass. If, however, the predators develop drug habits and start grabbing drugs off the street, society is again served, at no cost for additional police.
6) Loitering will lose its appeal and street crimes will decrease on account of these predation pressures.
7) Families will be strengthened as children observe the strong structure of the wolf families. Some children may become the unwitting victims of predation, but the others will be wiser, and maybe even more obedient.
8) Since people will need to travel in groups, the bonds of community will be strengthened. People will have to look out for each other as they deal with real, rather than imagined, problems.
9) With the bioregional approach to preserving endangered species, the cities will be forced to clean up their air and water — if they don’t, they’ll be causing habitat loss among endangered species. Everyone benefits from a healthy downtown.
10) Cattle droppings on rural hiking trails won’t seem as offensive to urban environmentalists after they’ve been stepping around bear scat on their sidewalks. This might reduce some of the energy behind the movement to take cattle off public lands, and thereby preserve ranches and open space.
11) With bears and wolves at large in the cities, at least 80 percent of America will touch the truths that lie at the heart of the lore of our culture: “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” “Little Red Riding Hood.”
In short, we’d have a healthier society with better protection for endangered species if we only transplanted some bears and wolves into the cities. Only one question remains: When will the urban environmentalists get behind this plan?
Peggy Godfrey, a cowboy poet (or cowgirl poetess, or some combination thereof — perhaps she’s better described as a “rancher and rural environmentalist”) raises lambs and dactyls near Moffat.