Quotes that Hurt the Mind

By Bob Ferris

“I’m sure most of the people being considered for his job graduated from a college,” he said. “These people are the cause of the destruction of wildlife.”  Cliff Gardner, 74, a rancher in Nevada’s remote Ruby Valley 

All of us who work with media look at quotes.  There are quotes that we like. There are quotes that make us jealous, because we wished they would have come from our mouths.  And there are the quotes that simply seem to hurt and you wince when you read them.  Mr. Gardner’s quote above in reference to candidates that might replace Ken Mayer as Director of Nevada’s Department of Wildlife is one of these latter quotes.

We at Cascadia Wildlands are often a little fuzzy about what actually constitutes Cascadia, but Nevada is certainly out of our geographic footprint.  That said, Mr. Mayer’s ouster and some of the rhetoric surrounding his dismissal are germane because they identify an anti-science, pro-habitat destruction mindset that is at the core of many of the problems we face with the restoration of wolves and reasoned management of other predators.

“What did Ken Mayer do? Nothing. Just habitat, habitat, habitat, which is a terrible thing for a person in his position to do,” he said. “You get instant results when you poison a raven or shoot a coyote.” Cecil Fredi, 74, president of a sportsmans’ group called Hunters Alert
Mr. Gardner and others would have us do three things.  First, they would have us completely ignore the myriad economic, environmental and social damages associated with the livestock industry.  Next they would have wildlife agencies act exactly like agricultural agencies.  And last, they would have us populate wildlife agencies with people who embrace predator-control wildlife management models that have been out of favor for decades. 
“Out of 34 countries, the U.S. ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.” The 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment
As a wildlife scientist I am pained by these sentiments and as an American I am disappointed as well.  These statements speak of growing intolerance and put an exclamation point on surveys that indicate that the US has dropped considerably in math and science rankings.  The fight for wolves is as much a fight about science-based restoration as it is a fight against ignorance and fear.