It has recently come to the attention of the federal government that the grizzly bear population in Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding land has increased tremendously, rebounding from just 200 bears in 1980 to more than 600 today.
These amazing mammals have been on the endangered species list for 30 years. Now that their numbers are rebounding, what’s the next step?
According to the Bush administration, they see it logical to take one of the slowest reproducing mammals off of the protection of the Endangered Species Act. The bill has passed through the House and is currently being debated by the Senate.
Being removed from this protection means the bears’ habitat will no longer be guarded from logging, drilling and commercialization, nor will the grizzlies be protected from hunting. Bush’s plan has worried many zoologists and bear lovers across the nation.
Most alarming is the fact that grizzlies are one of the slowest reproducing mammals on Earth, producing one to three cubs every three to four years.
Female grizzlies often don’t mate for the first time until after they are 7 years old. If grizzly numbers drop again, it would be much harder to recover without the help of the Endangered Species Act.
This proposal by the Bush administration is just one more indication that the U.S. government, and particularly the Bush administration, does not care what happens to the environment. Unfortunately, I believe the citizens of the United States are also starting to reflect this lethargic, who-cares attitude.
Republicans are known for promoting industry over the environment, and the Bush administration takes the cake for lack of concern for the environment.
The administration refuses to recognize global warming as a serious problem and is standing firmly against the restrictions on gas emissions proposed by the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol, which is issued by the United Nations, asks countries to reduce their emissions of six green house gases, including carbon dioxide.
Bush’s administration also supports new oil drilling in the western states. More oil drilling may increase our nation’s reserves, but in the long run, we will still be dependent on fuel, while disrupting the environmental balance.
By being apathetic toward these environmental issues, the Bush administration is not taking the proper actions to propel this nation and the rest of the world into the future. The problems are only being pushed into future generations.
These issues, however, go far beyond the Bush administration’s fault. Although zoologists, park rangers and bear lovers have caused an uproar over the administration’s announcement, no one else in America seems to care either.
Though grizzly bear populations don’t have a tremendous affect on our daily lives, the fact that the information is buried within the newspaper is evidence that, as a country, we have little regard for nature.
The Bush administration is not only making a big mistake in allowing the grizzly bears to be removed from the Endangered Species Act, but the administration is now setting a precedent, or lack thereof, of future environmental responsibilities. If we don’t truly commit to protecting and reinforcing endangered species, then our commitment toward nature means nothing.
As a nation, we cannot shirk our environmental responsibilities to this world. Only when we start looking at the environment as a real and important issue can we be able to reverse our mistakes of the past, from grizzlies to gas.
Morgan Ashenfelter can be reached at email@example.com.