Trouble In Mind

 

Two images stand out from photographs I’ve taken here in northwestern Montana in the last couple months. One is from hunting for deer in November, the other from hunting a Christmas tree last weekend.

The snowshoe hare in mid November is practicing “mind over matter.”

He trusts his natural camouflage to keep him safe, even though there’s barely any snow on the ground. He stood out like a cue ball on a pool table.

The second is a grizzly bear track I photographed while cutting a Christmas tree on national forest near my home with my family. I took the image on a balmy day, December 3. A biologist friend of mine here told me that fully half of his radio collared grizzly bears were still awake and roaming in early December this year, when they should be denning up for a winter’s worth of beauty sleep.

Taken alone, these images are only evidence of one mild late fall in northwestern Montana. Just like, taken alone, the images of Hurricane Sandy pummeling New York City are just evidence of another nasty storm on the Atlantic Seaboard.

But I cannot take them alone. I have to interpret them with the help of folks like Dan Fagre, of the US Geological Survey, who has documented the disappearance of the glaciers in my local Glacier National Park.

I am no scientist, just as I am no doctor. But just like I trust a good doctor when I get sick, I have to trust a good scientist to help interpret the world around us.  And scientists are telling us these poorly dressed hares, insomniac grizzly bears and melting glaciers are what we can expect if our pollution continues to blanket the atmosphere, changing the Earth’s climate. Increasingly, scientists are telling us that climate change is no longer a threat, but a reality. And that human-generated pollution is a big part of the problem.

I believe human beings are smart enough to get out of this problem. That rabbit, though, better pray hard for snow in the meantime.

Images: Snowshoe hare on the Kootenai National Forest; grizzly bear track on the Flathead National Forest. © Ben Long.

Ben Long is an outdoorsman, author and conservationist in Kalispell, Mont. He is senior program director for Resource Media.

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNITY OUTREACH MANAGER
    High Country News (HCN) is looking for a Community Outreach Manager to reach and forge new relationships with individuals and groups who represent communities historically...
  • NEW BOOK:
    True Wildlife Tales From Boy to Man. Finding my voice to save wildlife in the Apache spirit. 365+ vivid colorful pictures. Buy on Amazon/John Wachholz
  • CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
    with Rural Community Assistance Corporation. Apply here: https://www.marcumllp.com/executive-search/chief-operations-officer-rcac
  • CLIMATE JUSTICE FELLOW
    High Country News, an award-winning magazine covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks applicants for a climate justice fellowship. The fellowship...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Wild Rockies Field Institute is seeking a visionary Executive Director to lead the organization in Missoula, Montana. Individuals with a proven track record in...
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...
  • ARIZONA PROGRAM MANAGER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks an Arizona Program Manager. The Arizona Program Manager works...
  • CROWN OF THE CONTINENT COMMUNITY CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
    THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY is seeking a Community Conservation Specialist, for the Crown of the Continent DEPARTMENT: Conservation CLASSIFICATION: Grade 6 Specialist/Representative (Low of $54K) REPORTS...
  • ASSISTANT FARM DIRECTOR
    About The Organization Building community through fresh vegetables is at the heart of the Sisters-based non-profit, Seed to Table Oregon. Based on a four-acre diversified...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • DYNAMIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    VARD is seeking an Executive Director to lead a small legal & planning staff dedicated to the health and sustainability of Teton Valley Idaho and...
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.