America fell in love with wildlife and wild grounds again in 2020.
More people than at any point in recent history visited national parks, state wildlife management areas, purchased hunting and fishing licenses and went camping. As the coronavirus squashed indoors recreation, people sought solace outdoors.
And it continues.
This comes as human populations are growing in some of America’s top wildlife states.
Colorado added a million new residents between 2010 and 2020.
Texas’ population has grown 20 percent since 2000 alone and Montana for the first time has two Congressional seats.
Skyrocketing people numbers in wildlife heavy states that are seeing increases in potentially dangerous wildlife will bring dramatically increased human-wildlife conflict.
On April 30, 2021, a Colorado Springs woman was killed by a 10-year-old black sow. Her remains were found in the sow’s stomach and in that of one of her yearlings as well.
In September a woman was nearly killed by a cow moose attack in Colorado. She played dead to survive.
And in my home region of Southeast, we’re coming upon the one year anniversary of a fatal hog attack. And four months after it, we documented a man savagely attacked by boar near Texas Lake Sam Rayburn.
More people. Less habitat. More wildlife.
Those are formulas for big problems.
But there are other factors as well
Animal rightist ideology driving policy with wildlife will make matters worse. These people never blame the animal. It’s somehow always the person’s fault.
Like, the 16-year-old girl who was attacked by a bear while sleeping on a hammock in a designated camping area was asking for a mauling.
I love wildlife.
I dedicate a huge amount of my time to its conservation.
But it has to be managed.
And yes that means bears that attack people should be killed. It also means where biologically feasible hunting should be allowed to harvest animals from burgeoning populations and to help put some fear of humans among predators.
Many of the people entering the woods for the first time last year see nature as a petting zoo.
I witnessed it myself in Yellowstone National Park as a woman took a selfie with a 2,000-pound bull bison. I warned her and thankfully she didn’t get attacked but people act the same way with bears, moose and any other animals they encounter.
There needs to be a huge wildlife education initative and this why we at Higher Calling Wildlife have greatly increased our Texas Bear Aware activities and outreach. Bears are coming back to Texas and almost no one here knows how to share the woods with them.
The following three species is where I see the biggest issues in most of the Lower 48. We’ll touch on Canada and Alaska as well as the Yellowstone grizzly situation in another post down the road.
Black Bears: Black bear numbers are rising, especially in the South, with Florida seeing large increases along with Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Black bears rarely attack but nearly all black bear attacks are predatory. Grizzlies will sometimes lash out because they just didn’t like the way you looked. Black bears who are fed by people, eat from their garbage and come into conflict with pets will be an increasing danger.
Feral Hogs: Feral hog populations are skyrocketing in the South, increasing in the West and Northeast and they are a real potential danger. We’ve seen it here in Texas with the aforementioned attacks. I hate to predict bad things but this is just the beginning.
Moose: These monstrous deer don’t play. Mess with a moose and you get smashed. They’re also not afraid to show up in someone’s yard or eat in the middle of a hiking trail. We usually don’t think of ungulates as a danger but moose are showing themselves to be one, especially in Colorado where there are a record number of issues with them in 2021.
People have to be educated.
Hunting where applicable should be used to manage burgeoning populations. And in the case of hogs, every hog needs to be targeted. Sadly, we just can’t kill enough to stop the mega rise in numbers.
And we must maintain a respect for wildlife.
It’s great that more people are enjoying the outdoors. That’s more advocates to keep mountains from becoming ski lodges and plains from turning to park lots.
But there will be a move via hidden, radical animal rights agendas to remove animals like moose which were stocked in Colorado from the landscape. Oh, it will be under the guise of public safety and restoring balance to the “natural” order but it wil come.
They’ve already done it with mountain goats in other states.
And there will be pressure to restrict access to wilderness areas for ‘safety” and for the animals’ “welfare”.
We must stand against this. And we must support sound management and educaton of our wildlife resources.
We must also realize more human-wildlife conflict is coming. We need to be sure we’re not a casualty.
And we need to ensure wildlife has plenty of wild ground and we have access to enjoy it as well, empowered by the knowledge that sometimes animals do attack.
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