I know there are many who understand this sentiment, thousands – if not millions – who resonate with it. I don’t believe I’m the only one who looks at a moose or a Black Bear and thinks, they are so beautiful. Jesus, I hope they don’t get hit on the highway or shot by a hunter!
I want to encourage all of us who do feel this way to take the pain and angst we often feel for a bear or a homeless dog or a moose or a Thneed – for that matter, any nonhuman creature or living ecosystem – and turn it into empowered energy that helps that being or system.
For myself, to be sensitive to animals or wilderness means I must be aware of my own energy. Take today, for instance. It’s taken me half the day to get over the fact that our sub-adult Black Bear is sporting a fancy new plastic ear tag. Since last October, I’ve watched him, his sibling and his mama wander through our valley as a cub. We hazed him and off he went to other places not so aware. This July, he’s resurfaced in a mountain meadow not so far away. It’s only a matter of time before he will fall victim to the policies born of human creation regarding nothing of the needs of wildlife in mind, disregarding the impact of climate change or human ignorance, and become the latest recipient of CPW-administered euthanasia.
I couldn’t shake the upset for all the Black Bears in Colorado. I had to resist the anger and resentment for my fellow humans, some of whom I even know, that helped create a black future in the form of a death sentence for my ursine friend. I had to sense that the raw presence of my anxiety and frustration meant I needed to take proactive steps to reach out to my fellow bear lovers and involve them in the story. It meant I had to continue to pester the good people at Boulder County who said they wanted to help. It meant I had to look back at my bear awareness cartoons to envision their greater distribution, or research how to create a crowd funding effort to help educate more people about the needs of Black Bears in our urban-wildlife corridor.
It meant I had to ignore the question,
How come it’s bad to take a selfie with a Black Bear? Or any other human behavior that helps get them killed (on account of Colorado’s Two Strikes Law). It meant I had to remind myself that I am living in a culture disconnected from wildlife, but with any hope or Act of God, that could all change one day, and I just might have played a part.
To be sensitive to animals and wilderness compels us in a different direction than others. It means our heightened awareness includes noticing a pair of dancing blue eyes at night loping along a roadside, or taking in one too many foster dogs into our canine-overpopulated homes. It means hauling around a shoebox with gloves in the back of our Subarus to save a baby Partridge orphaned on a roadside to bring him up to the local wildlife rehabilitation center.
Rather than berating ourselves for our sensitivity or hating others for their failures to regard the nonhuman animals or wilderness as highly as we do naturally, we can learn to own that part of ourselves and reach out to others form a more loving, acceptable understanding that sometimes, people just really do not know.
We can redirect our passion, like I had to this past Saturday, and choose to ignore the southern guy stopping on the Canyon atop our valley to photograph our black Shepherd mutt lying in our pasture, calling out,
Hey! Is that PET BEAR fed?
Because for all the bears he’d ever seen in Louisiana, she might as well have been. (We all have a natural affinity for and curiosity towards nonhuman animals and wilderness, but some of us are simply more attuned than others.)
We sensitive, animal and wilderness loving advocates can take that knowing, resist the frustration born from lack thereof, and use it to fuel our creative, proactive efforts to act and educate on behalf of animals and wilderness. They need us now more than ever to do so, with all the passion born from our own innocent hearts. We just never know where the effort will lead or who might hear us in the calling out on their behalf.
 Remember Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax?