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It’s Friday night and just got an update through google concerning the status of the bear attack near Yellowstone.  A mother bear has just died today.  According to an LA Times blog, the Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Park officials said that they euthanized her because of three separate attacks on sleeping campers, and she is the prime suspect.  Officials rest assured us that her cubs “will be sent to a zoo as soon as possible.”  They made it perfectly clear that in the world of white Americans, that is the only suitable place for a grizzly.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee believes that “implementation of [their] guidelines will promote conservation of the grizzly bear.”  Yeah…in bondage.  Because according to the LA Times article, they also advise that “grizzly bears that display unprovoked aggressive behavior toward humans, or that cause substantial human injury, including loss of human life, be removed from the population.”

Currently, Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks are performing an autopsy on mother bear 1) to confirm if she’s even the perpetrator (a true sign of how they feel about grizzlies is that we kill first and ask questions later) and 2) to search for physiological indicators as to why she attacked.

It’s not surprising that they assume the problem could be physiological–and only physiological.  What if she was suffering from psychological trauma from displacement and witnessing her world shrink around her?  Or for some other reason not explained entirely through physiology?  Now that she’s dead, there’s no way of knowing anymore.  They don’t even pose that as a possibility, a hypothesis worthy of investigation.  Nope, she’s an animal.  If there’s a problem, it must be physiological.  Managers and committees are useless and hollow like that.  Humans, especially white people, are always right and animals are always wrong.

And then there’s always the likelihood that she wasn’t even the one responsible, which would just be a slap in the face…

I’m sure they’ll come up with a story to justify their actions.  There’s always justification in killing a bear (except when it involves commercial trade and Asia).  But retaliation without hard evidence is the best reason of all.

When I read stories like this, I am reminded that there are committees and professionals who work with nonhuman animals, particularly wildlife, and many of them do whatever they can not to work in wildlife’s best interests.  If killing grizzlies in their home and taking no responsibility for our encroachment and disrespect is conservation, then wildlife in American civilization are doomed.  This story is a painful reminder for the need to reflect on our actions and counteract violent retaliation with reconciliation.  Otherwise, how can we ever expect to live with free-living animals other than human?

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