Nearly a half century ago, when I returned from Vietnam, I was lost and wandered the Western American wilderness seeking palliation from war sickness. As the snows melted, I moved north into Yellowstone National Park. Though I wasn’t looking for them, there were grizzly bears, and they commanded my attention. I found great beauty married to danger and, seeing through their eyes, discovered a new way of looking at the world.
Years later, I wrote: “These bears saved my life.”
So I am beyond alarmed that state and federal governments have teamed up to deliver a potentially deadly blow to Yellowstone’s grizzly population. Last week, the Interior Department announced that after more than four decades of enjoying strict federal protections, the bears would no longer be considered a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Management of the animals will be handed over to the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho this summer — all of which intend to open a trophy hunt as early as this fall.