U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)-– When incidents of defense against bears occur in the United States, a common position of bear apologists is to claim “bears were here first”, as if, somehow, a bear has moral authority over humans.
A group that promotes the expansion of grizzly bear populations makes this claim, in a more sophisticated way. From conservationnw.org:
Grizzly bears have coexisted with people in the North Cascades Ecosystem from when the first people arrived in North America.
The most dangerous bear, the grizzly bear, was not in the lower 48 states before humans were. Humans were here first.
The grizzly bear is a relative newcomer to most of North America. The bears came from Asia to Alaska about 60,000 years ago. Because of the glaciers over most of Canada, they did not make it to the lower 48 states until about 10 – 15 thousand years ago. From nih.gov:
In North America, the brown bear has had a limited history, appearing in eastern Beringia only 50–70,000 years ago and spreading into the contiguous United States about 13,000 years ago (7, 8).
Humans, we have learned, have been in North America for at least 23,000 years, and likely up to 32,000 years. A convincing article was published on October 1, 2021. From nps.gov:
How long have humans been living in the Tularosa Basin? The latest research from White Sands confirms for the first time that humans have been living in North America for at least 23,000 years – many thousands of years older than previously thought. This research also confirms that people were living with the ice age megafauna much longer than previously known.
Another article was published in July of 2020. From nature.com:
The latest discoveries, published on 22 July in Nature1,
question that consensus. Since 2012, a team led by Ciprian Ardelean at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas in Mexico has been excavating Chiquihuite Cave, which is 2,740 metres above sea level in the country’s Astillero Mountains. The researchers found almost 2,000 stone tools, 239 of which were embedded in layers of gravel that have been carbon dated to between 25,000 and 32,000 years old.
No grizzly bear fossils have been found in the lower 48 states older than 15,500 years. Most are younger. One fossil from near Edmonton, Canada, has been dated from about 26,000 years ago. The science of that fossil appears to be fairly good. But it is only one example, and it was found near Edmonton, not in the lower 48 states.
Black bears inhabited North America long before grizzly bears became relatively recent migrants. Black bears are far less dangerous to humans. No doubt the introduction of grizzly bears had an impact on the ecosystem about 15 – 16 thousand years ago. Before that, much of the continent was covered with hundreds or thousands of feet of ice. Ecosystems are constantly changing and adapting. They are far from static.
Grizzly bears contended with humans and wolves for the spot of top predator in North American ecosystems for thousands of years. When human immigrants came from Europe, they brought the technology of firearms and steel to North America. Grizzly bears and wolves learned their place as one spot down from the top predator. Humans solidified their spot as the top predator and dominant creatures.
Bear advocates who claim bears have some sort of moral authority over humans are advancing the latest version of pagan animal cults. It is not hard to understand how people can become emotionally entangled with powerful wild creatures, especially when their interactions are based on digital visions on various screens.
If we are to preserve bears for future generations, they must be managed, as with other renewable resources. There needs to be a clear-eyed understanding of their reality. They are not forest and plain representatives of Gaia, the earth goddess. They are flesh and blood creatures who routinely engage in the killing of other bears and in cannibalism.
Only humans can manage bear populations. Man has to determine how many bears are the optimum number.
The people who have to live with the bears should have a significant say in how many is the right number, and what the rules will be to keep those bear populations at the right number.
If urban dwellers wish to expand the range of grizzly bears onto areas owned by other humans, the people who value the bears most should pay for the damage done by the bears.
Just because grizzly bears lived somewhere at some time in the past, does not mean it makes sense for them to live there today.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.