Wildlife conservation needs big money to beat back militant ignorance-

Over the years those favoring wildlife conservation found a strategy that worked to build up both the number and diversity of wildlife in the United States.

Until recently those who saw wildlife only as (1) pests or potential pests or (2) animals waiting to become livestock, were relegated to the most obscure and benighted corners of rural America.

Wildlife conservationists were able to push back these people by means of the states’ fish and game, or wildlife, departments, backed up by federal law for those animals and places where 19th century attitudes persisted.

Changes in American political economy and culture, however, have allowed the militant ignorance of wildlife hater and/or unethical kinds of hunting escape from its confines.  This growing movement to kill off wildlife that agricultural interests don’t like and reduce the rest to targets on game farms or public lands increasingly managed for extractive interests has a number of roots.

One of the most important is probably the sudden decline in outdoors experience by the younger generations who now see wildlife only on television or the internet, rather than the apparently more difficult and less exciting non-virtual experience — an actual outdoors experience.

At the same time the American economy has gone into steep decline with a recovery limited solely to the upper middle class and those wealthier. More and more people have no time, energy, or money to hunt, fish, hike, camp, climb, boat, or study nature and enjoy it as an end in itself.

For the elite that is doing well, many are easily financially able and some want to procure trophy animals as an example of some quality they possess or would like others think they possess. On the other hand, the economically distressed in rural areas are often recruited into militant politics that blames their financial plight on outsiders such as environmentalists, city dwellers, and racial or ethnic minorities.

There is ample evidence that the very wealthy, some of the top 0.1% in the wealth category are financially supporting the development and spread of ancient ideas, discredited among the educated for 50 or more years, such as creationism, denial of many kinds of science,  reversal of women’s rights, and wildlife conservation.  We have generally categorized this the “tea party” movement, though the fit might not be perfect.

Because this movement is centered in rural areas, towns and small cities that reflect rural economy and concerns, states with relatively simple economies, and states with a Southern tradition, it has been able to use the new found money and existing networks of influence to mount a strong challenge to what have been regarded as long settled issues such as Social Security, Medicare, land and water conservation as national parks and other public lands, and the protection of wildlife as a public trust.

Many of the less populated states and especially the southern states have long had a tradition of one-partyism.  Small population states are also overrepresented in the U.S. Senate by the constitutional gerrymander of 2 senators per state regardless of population.

As a result, a strong reactionary challenge has been mounted and certainly shows its strength in the deinstitutionalization of Congress — the body has stopped working — and adoption of policy that keeps the working poor, poor, and moves the middle class downward. In environmental policy, denial of changing weather patterns and attacks on the public lands, on the endangered species act, and on pollution abatement move forward.

Conservation groups are going to have to develop entirely new strategies, and one might be to work closely with the very wealthy.  All billionaires are not by their nature like the Koch Brothers, the Mellons, Sheldon Adelson, Rupert Murdoch, and other right wing titans of wealth.

Demons in the right wing view of hell are Ted Turner, George Soros and Tom Steyer, though they have have considerably less wealth, but there are others. A recent article today in Bloomberg may give hope to embattled conservationists. Bison-Loving Billionaires Rile Ranchers With Land Grab in American West. By Seth Lubove – Bloomberg Pursuits Magazine.

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

62 Responses to Will billionaires save America’s wildlife?

  1. Jon Way says:

    Great article, Ralph, as well as great commentary provided. Thanks for this…

  2. Ed Madej says:

    Excellent analysis Ralph! I especially agree with your comment:

    “There is ample evidence that the very wealthy, some of the top 0.1% in the wealth category are financially supporting the development and spread of ancient ideas, discredited among the educated for 50 or more years, such as creationism, denial of many kinds of science, reversal of women’s rights, and wildlife conservation.”

    Some of the ultra-rich are promoting a return to feudalism, where the wealthy own most of the land and all of the wildlife and the rest of us are serfs. After all, it worked for the wealthy for hundreds of years. Not so much for the rest of us serfs though.

  3. Elk275 says:

    I fell the pain

    More and more people have no time, energy, or money to hunt, fish, hike, camp, climb, boat, or study nature and enjoy it as an end in itself.”

    In the last eight years that has become very true. There was a time when I could spent 2 months away in the far reaches of the world. Today, one is expected to be online every minute. No Torres De Paine, no Mongolia, no Tibet, no Alaska, no local wilderness trips, no nothing if one is not connect 24/7 to the Internet. Wall Street wants its minions to work 24/7.

    • JB says:

      Wall Street isn’t alone in wanting 24/7 connectivity. Last semester I got reamed in student evals for not responding to email in the same day it was sent. Long gone are the days of waiting in line to meet with faculty during their office hours; now we are expected to be accessible all the time. Yet another way in which we cater to a generation who thinks the world revolves around them.

      • Maska says:

        My husband teaches occasional classes as an adjunct in the government department at a land grant university. He would agree 100%.

      • Mike says:

        ++Yet another way in which we cater to a generation who thinks the world revolves around them.++

        Every generation of 18-25 year olds is this way. It’s not new. 😉

        • sleepy says:

          Having suffered as an adjunct at a local college for years, I would just say that every generation–including my own–might well believe the world revolves around them.

          But with the rise of social media, the internet, email, texting, etc., I can only say that the need for instant confirmation of that belief has increased umpteen-fold.

          • Dude, the Bagman says:

            Some of this demanding attitude on the student’s parts MIGHT also come from a kind of inter-generational resentment and students watching their tuition rise and a crappy economy waiting for them when they graduate (neither of which this younger generation was responsible for).

            Probably mostly misplaced anger, but just a thought.

        • Harley says:

          Yes, but some generations don’t get over it when they get to 25….

      • SEAK Mossback says:

        Billionaires may provide some hope — some are so incredibly rich that it wouldn’t take many to get enthused in an environmental cause to have a huge impact, after it dawns that they aren’t going to be able to take their money with them. I suppose it could be one bright side of the ever-ongoing concentration of wealth in the country (although it would take an awful lot to balance the Kochs). I’ve speculated here in the past on what kind of impact an interested billionaire might potentially have in the upper Yellowstone Valley.

        The government is tapped out, grid-locked and dysfunctional — and the 1970s back-to-the-landers (definitely not to be confused with the landed noblemen of the western US), who’ve never had much money but were very engaged in local environmental issues, are getting old. Being one myself, I have to think back to my experiences and motivations to understand what has changed for the newer generations. In a word, it’s entertainment — the ability at all times to communicate and access information. In the past, many of us found urban and suburban life utterly boring and confining of the spirit, while watching the natural areas of our childhood turn into strip malls and parking lots — and therefore were strongly motivated to pursue nature and wild places. It’s difficult to imagine, but most younger folks just don’t feel the same way because they can keep their minds stimulated 24/7 in a vast electronic wilderness.

        I’ve watched it in my kids and even in my profession. My fisheries field camps are in some very beautiful, lonely places, without internet (mainly because of the positioning of mountains relative to satellites), but the 70s folks who’ve worked out there for decades and are now (to my distress) starting to wear out and retire, couldn’t care. They move seasonally from spending the winter in their off-road, off-grid soggy little spots in the rain forest on Chichagof Island, Kupreanof Island or Excursion Inlet to our soggy little spots in the rainforest for a few months, and then back, and are perfectly happy just taking a little vitamin-D to make up for the lack of sun exposure. They sit by the weir with a cup of coffee at first light and watch the world unfold, the king fisher, the brown bear, the otter family. In the off-season, when not intensively engaged in woodworking or subsistence projects, some write letters, organize, serve on conservation group boards, and even go to DC to advocate for protecting old growth drainages near their homes from the road, the saw and the cellulose cemetery — with substantial success, but with growing concern about who will take up when they leave off.

        The “big river” camps run by other projects are populated with larger crews of connected younger folks who watch video and chat online, instead of evening walks, and spend their winters in Belize and Thailand rather than nesting in the rainforest. The same could be said for other rural professions, including our graying fishing fleet, many who dropped out of the fast track and moved here in the 70s to connect with the land — although it has recently been encouraging (thanks in part to high salmon prices) to finally see some young blood entering the fisheries — a profession that inherently leads one into the natural world and to depend upon it.

        A few enthusiastic billionaires may not be able to make up for legions of environmentally motivated 70s folks, but they sure come with some leverage.

        • Jon Way says:

          Seak, great point:
          “I’ve speculated here in the past on what kind of impact an interested billionaire might potentially have in the upper Yellowstone Valley.”

          Imagine if they could buy out private lands to at least Yankee Jim Canyon and add that to Yellowstone NP. That would remove most of the bison issues (of course there would still be some) on the Northern Range…

          • ZeeWolf says:

            Jon Way and SEAK, great ideas regarding purchasing lands in GYE. Is it too late to buy up most of Paradise Valley, why stop at Yankee Jim?

  4. Louise Kane says:

    Ralph excellent commentary as always
    you wrote” One of the most important is probably the sudden decline in outdoors experience by the younger generations who now see wildlife only on television or the internet, rather than the apparently more difficult and less exciting non-virtual experience — an actual outdoors experience.”

    lets also not forget that when younger generations are exposed to wildlife or outdoor nature experiences it is more often than not in a corrupted context via a sensationalized “wildlife” series aka reality type program.

    This is a link to a good description of the yellow journalistic style of television documentary that is helping to legitimize a culture of wildlife haters and new wildlife killers.

    • zach says:

      I think this is a great thing.

      It seems this is getting a little closer than the gal whose trying to put a National Park in Maine.

      I hope their plan includes grizzly bears and wolves.

    • Jon Way says:

      The tragic situation where a young lady was killed by coyotes in Nova Scotia in 2009 was replayed on numerous outlets. That was only the 2nd recorded coyote caused fatality in recorded times. I think 2 ppl died from trees falling on them in Central Park, NYC – that same year.

    • Immer Treue says:

      And we are referred to as haters!?

    • Mareks Vilkins says:



    • Leslie says:

      Louise, this is exactly what I referring to in a thread previously. People should email Discovery et al and let them know these kinds of shows are not realistic nor helping endangered wildlife like wolverines. And this does link into the couch-potato crowd as you suggest. It includes shows like ‘Buying Alaska’, which altho interesting, continues to portray wildlife and wild lands as commodities to be used and abused.

      • Louise Kane says:


        “documentaries” that are produced by ignorant stupid people that twist information about wildlife to create faux drama make me very angry. I spent a good part of my life working in outreach and in documentary making. Some of that time was spent to advance marine conservation. I get really angry when I see these lazy ass producers who don’t think about or care that their trashy reality style productions are damaging the public’s perceptions about the creatures they write about. The life histories of most species are in general more interesting and fascinating, by far than the trashy hype these shows rely on to create an illusion of truth in their deranged advertising. I find the new paradigm for wildlife reality series terribly disturbing. I also feel that the companies and media outlets do a big disservice to the public by putting out this trash. The less quality programming they show the less opportunity the public has to appreciate and “vote” for that kind of programming by watching. I find it hard to believe that most people are entertained by creepy rednecks speaking bad english wrestling catfish or alligators before killing them. Have we gotten that bad? I have never seen the Alaska show referenced. I read the UK piece and heard they tracked and killed wolves among other things….I’ll never watch that. Irresponsible, sensationalist, trash

  5. Rita k Sharpe says:

    Louise Kane, shouldn’t your link be posted in the section where you can put the interesting news that you come across on? Sorry, but I get tired when things get or possibly get steered elsewhere and we are no longer talking about the issue at hand.

  6. Louise Kane says:

    the link I posted is directly related to the portion of Ralph’s discussion on the decline in young people experiencing the outdoors partly because they only see an outdoor experience through television. I responded to that with a comment of my own and a link that illustrated my point. Sorry you think its in the wrong place. Please read the comment above it.

    • Rita k Sharpe says:

      I see your point, Louise, but there have been times when things get so off topic that I have to jog back and see what was the original topic was . For instance, when the topic about wolves, it, sooner or later, it turns into a clash between the anti- hunting group and the pro- hunting group, not forgetting the ones who own sheep and cattle;all defending their views and, for which, they all have their right to express what they feel and believe.

  7. Ida Lupine says:

    Well, some of them had the foresight (and wherewithal) to help in setting aside land for our National Parks, so they can’t be all bad! 🙂

  8. Robert R says:

    Will billionaires save wildlife yes and no!

    The company I work for has done work for some high profile billionaires including Ted Turnner.
    Yes some protect wildlife to the point of over population. The problem with the protection of wildlife on private property is disease and transmitting disease too out lying populations.
    Some only protect ungulates and game birds and do not tolerate any predators, skunks,raccoons,fox,coyotes,wolves or bear etc. basically any thing that will eat their hobby animals. In some cases this includes raptors.
    A lot goes on behind closed gates far beyond what any poacher does.
    We once worked for a client and all law enforcement patrolled their property, highway patrol,sherif and game warden. Money talks in the wrong way sometimes and make breaking the law easy.

  9. Robert Goldman says:

    Perhaps the US will experiment with real democracy again instead of a return to feudalism. And we’ll get back on the road to the Public Trust Doctrine for wildlife. And surely there must be many more ecologically wise billionaires such as those mentioned in the link Ralph provided. By the way, thanks Ralph for this and all your intelligent writing.

  10. Rita k Sharpe says:

    I should ,also, say thank you, Ralph, for this piece.

  11. Ida Lupine says:

    I have been very intrigued lately reading the story of the Huron Mountain Club in the UP of MI. It seems a lot of people could see the value of protecting our wild lands.

    • Mike says:

      ++I have been very intrigued lately reading the story of the Huron Mountain Club in the UP of MI. It seems a lot of people could see the value of protecting our wild lands.++

      I know the area well. It was where I really came to love the outdoors, along with Northern Wisconsin.

      I was tracking what little roadless land there was left, in wolf country, before Yellowstone even had them re-introduced. I’ve seen several wolves in that area. I also, in 1992, spotted a mountain lion on the eastern side of the Huron’s.

      the Huron Mountains and the land surrounding are a special place. Rivers flow into Lake Superior, with numerous waterfalls and runs of salmon and steelhead. But the Huron Mountain Club still has runs of coaster brook trout, which were wiped out of the southern shores of Lake superior.

      The Hurons have always been a place where the midwest’s rarest animals and flora are “rescued”. See wolves, cougar, moose, and old growth white pine.

      Unfortunately, Michigan allowed the construction of a terrible mine on the border of this last best place, and very close to the last coaster brook trout run on the south shore of superior. You see, the DNR also denied the existence of cougars, too, even when I made my case to them. There is little, if any concern for rare species there.

      This photo was taken recently of a cougar near Huron Bay, right where I saw a cougar at 2 in the morning in 1992:


      It is special country. It may be hacked, roaded and trailed to pieces, but it always bounces back, and it bounced back before Yellowstone even did in terms of the wolf.

      And this brings us back to Ralph’s thread about billionaires. This would be the perfect opportunity to buy up enough land to create South Superior National Park, including the Huron Mountain Club, and the paper company and mining lands between it and the McCormick wilderness and Craig Lake State Park.

      • Ida Lupine says:

        I’ve never been but I’d love to see it. I’m afraid our Maine woods will be turned into reams of paper at some point too. The cougar is amazing and beautiful.

        Looks like the USFWS has a lot more work to do before any further delisting! I hope, anyway.

        Have a good night,

        • Mike says:


          The highest point in Michigan is only 1,977 feet (Mt. Arvon in the Hurons), so these are more like ridges than actual mountains. But, for the midwest, this kind of rugged topography is highly unusual.

          The Midwest is incredibly flat for hundreds of miles in all directions with a severe lack of public land.

          That’s what makes the Northwoods so special, developed or not. the Huron’s, the Porcupine Mountains, the McCormick Wilderness, and the Sylvania wilderness keep the land relatively wild in the U.P. despite the freakish amount of paper company logging.

          Minnesota has the BWCAW, which connects to the Quetico State Park, forming a two million acre roadless wilderness area. this is, ultimately, the wildest part of the midwest. However, what makes the Huron’s so cool is that they border Lake Superior, and have the last coaster run brook trout on the south shore. Outdoor Life ran a column blasting the Huron Mountain Club for trying to block fishermen from this river. Obviously, they put little to no thought in the article, because the only reason the Huron’s still have old growth white pine and the coaster run is precisely because you can’t fish for them.

          If you are a fan of the largest lake by surface area in the world, rocky beaches, sand beaches, waterfalls and clear rivers, this is nice country to be in.

      • Robert Goldman says:

        Mike, Thanks so much for your post and for sharing the amazing photo of this magnificent cougar. Wow!!!

  12. Mareks Vilkins says:

    to put things in some context:


    How to Destroy a Planet Without Really Trying

    The question is: What are people doing about it? None of this is a secret. It’s all perfectly open. In fact, you have to make an effort not to see it.

    There have been a range of reactions. There are those who are trying hard to do something about these threats, and others who are acting to escalate them. If you look at who they are, this future historian or extraterrestrial observer would see something strange indeed. Trying to mitigate or overcome these threats are the least developed societies, the indigenous populations, or the remnants of them, tribal societies and first nations in Canada. They’re not talking about nuclear war but environmental disaster, and they’re really trying to do something about it.

    In fact, all over the world — Australia, India, South America — there are battles going on, sometimes wars. In India, it’s a major war over direct environmental destruction, with tribal societies trying to resist resource extraction operations that are extremely harmful locally, but also in their general consequences. In societies where indigenous populations have an influence, many are taking a strong stand. The strongest of any country with regard to global warming is in Bolivia, which has an indigenous majority and constitutional requirements that protect the “rights of nature.”

    Ecuador, which also has a large indigenous population, is the only oil exporter I know of where the government is seeking aid to help keep that oil in the ground, instead of producing and exporting it — and the ground is where it ought to be.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died recently and was the object of mockery, insult, and hatred throughout the Western world, attended a session of the U.N. General Assembly a few years ago where he elicited all sorts of ridicule for calling George W. Bush a devil. He also gave a speech there that was quite interesting. Of course, Venezuela is a major oil producer. Oil is practically their whole gross domestic product. In that speech, he warned of the dangers of the overuse of fossil fuels and urged producer and consumer countries to get together and try to work out ways to reduce fossil fuel use. That was pretty amazing on the part of an oil producer. You know, he was part Indian, of indigenous background. Unlike the funny things he did, this aspect of his actions at the U.N. was never even reported.

    So, at one extreme you have indigenous, tribal societies trying to stem the race to disaster. At the other extreme, the richest, most powerful societies in world history, like the United States and Canada, are racing full-speed ahead to destroy the environment as quickly as possible. Unlike Ecuador, and indigenous societies throughout the world, they want to extract every drop of hydrocarbons from the ground with all possible speed.

    Both political parties, President Obama, the media, and the international press seem to be looking forward with great enthusiasm to what they call “a century of energy independence” for the United States. Energy independence is an almost meaningless concept, but put that aside. What they mean is: we’ll have a century in which to maximize the use of fossil fuels and contribute to destroying the world.

    And that’s pretty much the case everywhere. Admittedly, when it comes to alternative energy development, Europe is doing something. Meanwhile, the United States, the richest and most powerful country in world history, is the only nation among perhaps 100 relevant ones that doesn’t have a national policy for restricting the use of fossil fuels, that doesn’t even have renewable energy targets. It’s not because the population doesn’t want it. Americans are pretty close to the international norm in their concern about global warming. It’s institutional structures that block change. Business interests don’t want it and they’re overwhelmingly powerful in determining policy, so you get a big gap between opinion and policy on lots of issues, including this one.

    So that’s what the future historian — if there is one — would see. He might also read today’s scientific journals. Just about every one you open has a more dire prediction than the last.

  13. Mareks Vilkins says:

    some follow-up:

    Human intelligence and the environment


  14. Mareks Vilkins says:

    fantasy that billionaires will rescue environment reminds me of Enlightened King bullshit with American twist

    • JB says:


      I’ll be the last one to come out in favor of relying upon the wealthiest to save our environment. However, we should at least acknowledge that there is a precedent: Theodore Roosevelt arguably did more (both as President, and as a wealthy benefactor) to save the last remaining ‘wild’ places of America during his time.

    • Louise Kane says:

      perhaps Mareks but if a billionaire popped out of the woodwork looking to help wolves….I certainly would harbor no ill will! Bring it on buy up some land to set aside where wildlife are not killed. Now all we need is one or two devoted to canids wolves, coyotes, foxes with an attitude about all the indecent and inhumane slaughter.

  15. Ida Lupine says:

    And John D. Rockefeller. Who will help preserve these places? Ordinary people don’t seem to care enough or appreciate them, and want to exploit these places for what is in the long run temporary jobs. Or it isn’t important to them in modern times. They don’t think it is, but it is. The jobs will end when the resource is gone, never to return. People who are struggling or just getting by can’t see beyond that for the most part. You can understand that to a degree. And the trash and crap and stuff that people leave and defile these places is atrocious. It won’t be the government either without the push from voters.

    Sadly, money gives a certain freedom to be able to protect these places for the future, in its own right and for future generations. The people will thank those who had the foresight to protect these places and their wildlife later.

    I’ll give you an example that is ironic. There is a town that decided to take down 40 acres of woods to put up a solar farm. After it was all done and the trees were gone, they all said ‘What happened?’ Now they don’t like that all those trees are gone, and it’s too late.

    • Ida Lupine says:

      ^^John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

    • WM says:

      Forgive me for being a contrarian on the topic of billionaires saving the world. It is probably worthwhile considering where these folks got their money to begin with – those who want to now do good as well as those who do not.

      Most of the early big money in the US was procured from resources extractive enterprises (gold/silver, iron,molyebdenum, oil, coal) or the polluting industrial processes that produced manufactured goods from those products – steel.

      More recently, thinking of those who make/made money off from sequencing of 0’s and 1’s (software developers), those intellectual property products are still used in support of computers, printers, wire and accessories whose manufacture still has impact on the environment. Knowing about how industry works, they constantly butt up against environmental regulators that set standards for effluent discharges for water, air or solid waste by-products. Well, think about it we shipped the manufacturing, much of it anyway to places like China, Philippines, Mexico, where the envirnmental degradation continues. We continue to have a throw-away society, regardless of how much recycling is done.

      So, what motivates some of these folks with the big bucks – to those who have been given much, much is expected, or is it guilt?

      The Rockerfeller family started Standard Oil. Carnegie founded a steel company, later sold to J.P. Morgan which became US Steel. Bill Gates with Paul Allen founded Microsoft, then reinvested some of their fortunes in other businesses some not so environmentally friendly. Then Bill Gates decides he needs to save Africa all by himself, by improving health conditions and hence expanding population there.

      Billionaires? – Yep. Will good prevail over evil in the end? Stay tuned.

      • Ida Lupine says:


        • Ida Lupine says:

          Sometimes the progeny are the ones who do the good, by having the means. So it isn’t contradictory. It’s all very Bruce Wayne. 🙂

          • WM says:


            The origins of the money are still the same, regardless of who gives it away. What may have changed as generations succeed is the magnitude of guilt. One theory anyway. Let’s hope there are some Koch family heirs that feel the pain in future years.

            • Ida Lupine says:

              Yes. Although sometimes I think they are not as bad as they are reputed to be.

              • Ida Lupine says:

                Especially since the sorry excuses for Democrats today are no longer the good guys. As they say, money talks and bullsh*t walks.

      • Louise Kane says:

        “Will good prevail over evil in the end? Stay tuned.”

        stay tuned is right….

  16. Mareks Vilkins says:

    my take is that solution to environmental problems must come from 1)understanding of ecology, climate change etc. 2)grassroots mass movement (in accordance with American values) … so when I see that a billionaires clique (that is, worship/cult of extreme inequality) is the last hope for environment is sad testimony for state of democracy in the USA


    I love to read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States so I have enough information on how Robber Barons got their fortunes … and it was a total assault on American values which are universally accepted

    the same goes with computer industry which for decades was developed using taxpayers’s money (through Pentagon) and later ripped off by smart asses like Gates etc. (socialize the costs and privatize the profits) – well, someone could point that, hey – Mech,Boitani’s etc. Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation photos were sponsored by Gates foundation! what a freaking relief – thanks to you, Mister!!!

    I better bet on wolves’ capacity to avoid hunters and spread throughout Lower 48 than on benefactory billionaires – who remind me of Russian Tsar PR crap. DISGRACE.

  17. Ida Lupine says:

    I don’t know – it’s a double-edged sword, I suppose. The Robber Barons helped build and did a lot for our country, but at great cost. But also created the middle class by helping create a more prosperous nation, so that people could concentrate on social issues. Those eras are my favorite because the groundwork was laid for much positive societal change. Something happened after the 19560s and 70s to cause it to go all downhill.

    ‘American values’ is somewhat of an American myth. Especially today. We don’t really hold them, especially today. The President’s talk of everyone having the ‘American Dream’ sounds like something out of the 1950s because those days are long gone.

    I don’t hold my breath as far as education about the ecology and wildlife, or an intelligent grassroots movement. You’ll get sheeple but you won’t get anything much done. For example, everybody and their brother is protesting the Keystone pipeline (conveniently forgetting or unaware that we have an entire network of oil and tarsands pipelines criss-crossing the country) and yet refuse to give up their gas guzzler automobiles. They don’t seem to mind transporting oil by ship or rail which is much more likely to have an accident that a pipeline, which is the safest way to transport oil.

    This country is over 250 years old – and yet we still have the same ideas about wolves and wildlife as we did back when the country was founded. We can’t seem to learn. We are ecologically backward. If some of the heirs of the robber barons didn’t have the foresight to set aside land to be protected, we wouldn’t have it today.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for people to someday ‘get it’. If they haven’t by now, they won’t. There’s always another human problem to considered, another shiny new toy with new bells and whistles that must be had, or a new cult of personality and a manufactured political scandal to distract our limited attention spans.

    • Ida Lupine says:

      We also don’t have the time to wait for people to ‘get it’. Time is running out for our wildlife. Their numbers are declining drastically and our numbers keep rising. People who don’t value or appreciate our wild lands, and what’s more, don’t want them, shouldn’t make the decisions about them. Let the people who love our wildlife and wildlands do it. The 1% isn’t entirely ‘bad’; there are those on the other side who love to vilify them so that they can hold on to power too. The Democrats selling wolves down the river to get Jon Tester and Montana’s votes is an example.

    • Mareks Vilkins says:


      you may prefer glitz but I stick my gun on this issue with:


      Much more interesting are the changes in the institutions, worker-owned co-ops, neighborhood ownership. Changes are happening in the ownership of capital in many parts of the country. Ten million Americans are working in worker-owned companies; 130 million belong to co-ops of one kind of another. These are changes going to the question of who owns the capital, which is the key question in any sort of capitalist system. And I think that’s going to build out of the decay and out of the pain.

      • Ida Lupine says:

        No, I don’t really – glitz doesn’t mean anything to me. But I am a realist. It does mean a lot to a lot of people. I also don’t like to say money and wealth is always a negative thing, it can do a lot of good.

        This is a great article Mareks, I agree we may be in the midst of another period of great change, what might get worse before it gets better.

        • Mareks Vilkins says:


          I know pretty well what you stand for but one has to draw a red line at some point and I will NEVER hang out with a billionaire charity crowd

          • Ida Lupine says:

            It’s true. But if it means saving my piping plovers, it makes it all worth it.

  18. CodyCoyote says:

    Perhaps a couple of altruistic billionaires can save us from the too-many millionaires who do not have wildlife’s interests at the fore. The millionaires that populate hobby ranches, corporate ranches, old school flannel ranches ( millionaires on paper ) , state legislatures , extractive industry advocacies , developers, real estate landgrabbers, and ESPECIALLY the contributors to certain blue chip hunting organizations who believe big game belongs to them first and the only reason that big game even exists these days is to be shot with a privileged gun, and large predators get in the way of that.

    Maybe it takes a billionaire to get millionaires to behave…

    • Elk275 says:

      Is that what has happened in Jackson Hole?

    • WM says:

      I am guessing it won’t be this little Saudi turd, who didn’t make it high enough on the uber-rich ranking list to suit his own vanity.

      How much effort do you suppose he personally put forth to gain his wealth, and how much do you think he will give back to society in his own or other countries for environmental protection or enhancement. Just another extraction resource hoarder.


      • WM says:


        On the other hand this Saudi prince invested heavily in many US corporations, including CITICORP (which brought you along with others the Wall St. meltdown, and then was rescued by US taxpayers). Maybe the prince should pony up for a little environmental improvement in the US.

  19. Mareks Vilkins says:

    food for thought – how benefactory billionaires (including magnificent Teddy Roosevelt progenies B&M Gates) could help environment using GMO and plundering Africa


    what is said of Bono applies also to possible US patrons of wildlife:

    “for nearly three decades as a public figure, Bono has been … amplifying elite discourses, advocating ineffective solutions, patronising the poor and kissing the arses of the rich and powerful”. His approach to Africa is “a slick mix of traditional missionary and commercial colonialism, in which the poor world exists as a task for the rich world to complete”.


June 2013


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey