You See A Cold Baby Bison, I See A Wild Animal.

Normally I save my rants for Friday mornings but this one simply can’t wait.

I’m fired up.

I’m angry.

I’m sad.

Headlines like this have my head spinning.

I wish that these were isolated events. But they aren’t.

I see things on my own local trails that are maddening too.

Garbage, tree-carvings, spray painted rocks, bags of dog poop left to slowly rot on the side of the trails, public signs used as target practice, off-roading vehicles causing damage to fragile ecosystems…the list goes on and on.

But let’s get back to the events that have been in the news lately.

We could say that the filmmakers who didn’t see the importance of staying on the boardwalks were products of a society where people go to great feats to get that perfect shot regardless of the rules.

Or we could say that they are just assholes.

We could say that the tourists who put a baby bison into their van were really motivated by kindness.

Or we could say that they are idiots.

We could say people who vandalize our public lands are doing it out of ignorance.

But the truth is, I think they know better and just don’t give a flying f*ck about anything but themselves.

All of these things have got me thinking.

What can I do to solve the problem of jerks in the outdoors?

What can I do to protect wildlife?

What can I do to educate others?

I work in the outdoor industry.

I write trail guides for a living.

I teach outdoor classes.

I encourage people to go outside and head down a trail every single day.

Should I stop?

Should I tell people to stay at home?

Should I tell them to stay indoors, avoid the trails and don’t head up to the mountains because they might do the wrong thing? I know a few people who have abandoned their outdoor blogs because they don’t want more people in the outdoors wrecking our beautiful spaces. I get it.

But I don’t think that’s the right answer.

In fact, I think that’s part of the problem.

Excuse me while I stand on my soap box.

We can’t just spread our annoyance about this issues on our own private social media channels.

We have to do something more than that.

If we have a blog we need to write about it and go public when we see something bad happening in our own communities (and then send me the link so I can share the heck out of it).

Or we need to write an editorial for our local newspaper that educates the public.

Or organize a trail maintenance day.

If we see someone doing something stupid in the wilderness we need to ask them to stop (tactfully & depending on the situation of course) and report it.

We need pages like this one to have a million followers.

If we’re involved in the outdoor community as guides, educators, or even if we just lead or participate in hikes with our local hiking groups we need to use each opportunity on the trail to educate about even the simple things…like not picking wildflowers, packing out litter, and using switchbacks. And then explain why.

If we’re parents we need to get our children outdoors and into the wilderness as often as we can. We protect and we preserve what we love. The future of our favorite outdoor spaces is up to our children.  It’s up to us to teach our children to love the wilderness.

We need to take advantage of things like free entrance days and programs to National & State Parks. We need to teach the children in our lives that protecting and loving our wild spaces begins in our own backyards.

There are jerks in the world.

There are people who simply don’t care about our wild lands.

There are people who don’t understand the wildlife is wild.

We can’t solve that.

But…

I want my children’s children to see bison in Yellowstone.

I realize that for this to happen it’s my job to take a stand and to educate, inform and inspire those around me to simply do the right thing.

What are you going to do?

p.s. Here are a few other bloggers taking a stand against jerks in the wilderness. Check them out. Do you want me to add your blog post to the list? Leave a comment below 🙂

 

4 comments on “You See A Cold Baby Bison, I See A Wild Animal.

  1. I’m going to pass on to my kids what my dad taught us about being outdoors – “leave the place better than you found it” e.g. pick up trash even if it’s not yours; I’m going to continue to teach my kids….. how to take care of things in the house and in the outdoors; respect life, wildlife, our property, and the property of others; to understand that there may be rules and restrictions we don’t like or agree with, however, they are in place for a reason – to protect someone or something – and are not optional just because we feel they should not apply to us or apply in a particular situation; that some decisions are not ours to make because there are more trained, qualified, and informed experts making the decisions and if we don’t like it there are appropriate, respectful processes to implement change; and most of all to live, respect, enjoy, and experience joy of being outdoors together and with others.

  2. Thank you for posting this. As a Park Ranger for a local county I see all of these things first hand. It is sad and it’s frustrating. We are inviting and encouraging more people to experience the great outdoors but we are not teaching the basic ‘leave no trace’ ideals I grew up with. We need more people like you to help us get the word out there. To help us look into the adopt-a-trail program and look into volunteering at the local level. All parks are hurting for staff and money but don’t forget those parks that are close to home. Regional Parks and Open Spaces get less and less of the ‘pie’ as counties and cities fall on hard economic times. Without people like you and your readers, people like me and my staff will be overwhelmed. Thank you again for writing this.

    • Yes, thank you so much for your comments. Volunteering in the outdoors is a huge way to give back! I need to find a local adopt-a-trail program, love it!!!

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