​City Folks and Poison Ivy

I’ve got the worst poison ivy rash of my life. Which isn’t saying much.

I used to play in it as a kid and thought I was pretty much immune. Waded right into a landscaping project with a weed-eater on a hot day. Started as a little burn on one wrist then slowly worked its way up both arms and the back of my neck. It is irritating, but will eventually go away.

I’ve picked up worse things in the woods. A few nasty ticks, the occasional leech, and a case of the plague a few years back that didn’t want to let go. But most mornings, I can grab my breakfast and the dogs, head out to the porch or one of the benches along the ridge and listen to the birds, watch the deer, and be at peace.

There is little in nature that doesn’t have its season. Droughts, rashes, bugs, and blizzards are generally like the tourists, mildly irritating then gone till next season.

But lately there are some city folks that remind me of a rash.

A group of environmental organizations have informed the federal government that they have erred in delisting the grizzly population. That within the next sixty days if Fish and Wildlife officials don’t back down, that they will sue to block the return of bear management to the states.

The people of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana it appears don’t have access to the internet, biologists, or the appropriate global climate reports to make sound decisions concern grizzlies in their own states. From a city perspective, most of those rural folks don’t have adequate educations to make decisions on their own.

Rural men could do something rash if a bear ate a few cows or kids not realizing that the cities are full of extra people. From a city perspective filled with drug deaths and gang shootings, we should be willing to lose a few and tofu tastes just like beef if you put enough curry on it.

It is mildly irritating to continually be belittled by folks who live so far away and get all their information from National Geographic specials.

The most recent suit claims that because global warming has altered the forests, there aren’t as many pine nuts available for the bears to pursue a heart-healthy vegan diet. To compensate, the bears are consuming more meat and will inevitably come into conflict with back-water folks who actually raise and consume flesh themselves; ranchers and barbeque burger flippers.

Being from a rural area myself, I was so grateful to be educated on the grizzly diet. The last cable special I watched showed bears in the water grabbing salmon. I thought that they only ate sushi. Who could have imagined that bears would eat meat?

If grizzlies were the only song in their set, it would be less galling, but we have watched this same group of lawyers sue the government over wolves, spotted owls, and prairie dogs.

The latest fish and wildlife service count puts the minimum number of wolves now living in the lower 48 at 5,680 with 11,000 more living in Alaska. Yet the same organizations are unsatisfied with that recovery also and are suing to ensure wolves are returned to even more of their former range.

Last month, in the span of two days, bears killed two people in Alaska. The commentary sparked by the incidents ranged from a series of self-defense strategies from residents to a dissertation from the cities trying to explain to Alaskans that the bears were only responding to unfair hunting practices.

My favorite on-line comment came from a tribal elder. He was asked why natives rarely had reported encounters with bears. He replied that no native would enter the woods without a twelve gauge.

As metro lawyers do their best to fill the country side with large predators I chose to honor the advice of tribal elders. While my rash will fade, it sure burns today. 

Columnist: Bob Speirs

Bob Speirs – owner and operator of Crow Creek Wildlife Management Service in Spearfish, South Dakota has been writing award winning articles, stories and poems that entertain and educate hunters for over 15 years. Known for his outstanding whitetail management and hundreds of satisfied customers, Bob’s unique perspectives and insights help to educate and entertain hunters everywhere!

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