In Idaho: A grizzly consensus plan didn't exist

  Dear HCN,

Kudos on HCN's most recent issue covering the "Grizzly War" (HCN, 11/9/98). The piece by Todd Wilkinson is both timely and dead on target. I must say, however, that I was rather amazed to read under "Idaho grizzly plan shifts into low gear," that "Environmentalists are silent on grizzly reintroduction." Environmentalists, both in the U.S. and Canada (where 43 groups signed a letter of opposition), have been vocal and vehement in their opposition to the ROOTS proposal since day one.

The ROOTS proposal was, and is, a failure because it was a "consensus' effort in name only; systematically excluded the 98 percent of environmentalists who disagreed; failed to comprehensively reach out to opponents beyond the original core group; convinced no Idaho politicos either of its worth or inevitability; totally ignored the best available science on grizzly bear recovery needs; and repeatedly tried to stretch, change or ignore federal endangered species law to buy off opponents.

Somewhere along the way, proponents completely confused "process' (consensus at all costs) with an ecologically sound product (conservation of the grizzly). The result is a document with no basis in science and tenuous links to the law, that has simultaneously alienated virtually the entire environmental community, ticked off Idaho and Montana politicians, mobilized anti-grizzly types, and guaranteed that the effort will take more time, cost more money and increase divisiveness.

Brian Peck

Columbia Falls, Montana

The writer is a wildlife consultant with several environmental groups and educational institutions.

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