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Doug Peacock Unites Celebrities, Scientists Against Yellowstone Grizzly Delisting

Wildlife advocate Doug Peacock is pulling out all the stops in his fight to stop the federal government‘s delisting of Yellowstone grizzly bears.

Peacock’s efforts include a letter to President Barack Obama signed by some of the world’s leading scientists along with conservationists, authors and even a few movie stars.

Recently, he launched a petition on Whitehouse.gov as part of his social media campaign, “Save the Yellowstone Grizzly.” The petition needs to garner 90,000 signatures by next week.

And Peacock and his wife, Andrea, launched a YouTube channel, Save the Yellowstone Grizzly, where he and some of his conservation-minded friends contributed moving testimony on the importance of saving the great bear from trophy hunting should the species be removed from the Endangered Species List.

To have some fun along the way, the Peacocks also created a hashtag for social media, #barenakedforabear. The idea is you take a photo of yourself, carefully draped, in the nude to signify your support for bears-and that you signed the Whitehouse.gov petition.

Peacock is the well-known real-life model for Edward Abbey’s fictional George Washington Hayduke in Abbey’s environmental classic The Monkey Wrench Gang and also in the posthumously published sequel Hayduke Lives.

Indeed, Peacock is a fierce wilderness advocate, and he’s been on a mission to stop the delisting of Yellowstone grizzly bears since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first announced their intention on March 3.

“It’s pure folly to think you can delist the bear and consider it recovered in a time of global warming,” Peacock told The Livingston Enterprise after the delisting announcement. “The sixth great extinction is underway. Food sources are going to be greatly diminished, and there’s going to be a broad, terrifying drought. Grizzlies will have about as a good a chance of survival as its two-legged friends.”

Peacock wrote a letter in May to President Obama, asking him to use his authority to step in and stop the delisting, which he says will lead to trophy hunting of this iconic species. Co-signing the letter was a star-studded list of actors, scientists, environmentalists, authors, and UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall.

Obama has stated climate change is a threat to wildlife, people and the planet, yet the Fish and Wildlife Service has stated climate change has had no effect on Yellowstone’s grizzlies, Peacock notes.

The co-signers are almost all friends the Peacocks have made throughout the years, including neighbors like actors Jeff Bridges and Michael Keaton, writers Tom McGuane and Carl Hiaasen plus authors Doug Brinkley, Terry Tempest Williams and N. Scott Momaday. Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and former Yellowstone superintendent Mike Finley also signed the letter.

Jane Goodall, in her YouTube video, spoke about “the world’s most famous grizzly,” a mature sow known by the number assigned by researchers, 399. The bear spends most of her time inside Grand Teton National Park, but if grizzlies were delisted and she wandered across the park border, she’d be in a hunter’s crosshairs.

“399 might be shot by a trophy hunter,” Goodall says in a video. “Her head mounted on a wall, her skin laid on the floor to be trampled by human feet. I know many hearts would break. I know mine would.”

With delisting from the protections of the Endangered Species Act comes the transfer of grizzly “management” from federal to state control. Namely, the three states surrounding Yellowstone National Park: Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

And with state management comes the possibility of a hunting season for grizzly bears. For instance, Montana would get about a third of any “discretionary mortality” allowed in a calendar year, wildlife officials have said.

Some years, depending on any other ways grizzlies die and in what numbers, there might not be a hunt at all.

But Peacock, along with many other wildlife advocates and wildlife biologists, argue the bear is not sufficiently recovered to be removed from the Endangered Species List. Food sources are dwindling due to climate change, and the species exists on a genetic island, without access to other grizzly populations in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park.

And if there’s a grizzly hunt in Wyoming, the great bear “will have the status of coyotes,” Peacock said. “Mortality could exceed reproduction.”

Peacock believes men—and it’s nearly always men—who have feelings of “inadequacy and insecurity” who want to kill grizzlies because the bear reminds us we’re not the top dog at the top of the food chain. The grizzly stands upright like a man and when a bear carcass is skinned, the remains eerily resemble a man, he said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reopened a new comment period for the public to weigh in on the delisting proposal. The new comment period follows an “independent peer review” of the scientific literature used to back the delisting. The comment period extends until Oct. 7. Comments may be submitted electronically at the government regulations site.

About Liz Kearney

Liz Kearney is a former Yellowstone tour guide and snowcoach driver. She lives in Livingston, Montana, where she covers the park and other news for the daily newspaper, the Livingston Enterprise.

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