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Monday Reads: The Wildlife Meets Music Edition

News headlines last week prominently featured both music (the Grammy Awards rolled out their red carpet) and the environment (the GOP’s proposed spending legislation steamrolled through the House, nearly crushed under the weight of riders and amendments seeking to rollback many environmental and public health gains of the past several years).

What readers may not be aware of is that in two smaller stories, the environment weighed in on music:

EXHIBIT A: Wolves give Creed a chance. (And then leave.)

A few weeks ago in southern Norway, 13-year-old Walter Eikrem was on his way home from school, listening to Creed (“heavy-metal music,” according to Spiegel International), when he (distressingly) crossed paths with four wolves. His mother had given him strict instructions on what to do in just such a circumstance: Don’t Run. (Walter’s Mom: "You can even get a little poodle to run after you if you run away.”)

Standing your ground may have been excellent advice, but it didn’t exactly improve Walter’s situation. So he made do with what he had. Pulling out his earbuds, Walter cranked his cellphone up to full volume and gave the wolves the full brunt of Creed classic “Overcome.” And it worked. Like some humans before them, the wolves assessed Creed with a collective mental yawn and issued forth this opinion on the American export:

"They didn't really get scared," Walter said. "They just turned around and simply trotted away."

Wolves in our Northern Rockies don’t need to contend with the strains of Creed, but Congress hasn’t exactly been playing a great tune either. Since the courts have denied states’ ill-conceived attempts to strip wolves of Endangered Species protections, some members of Congress are now trying to legislate wolves off the list. Wolves can save themselves from Creed, but adversaries like Rep. Simpson (R-ID) and Sens. Baucus (D-MT) and Tester (D-MT) may be another matter. If you haven’t done so yet, send a note to your elected officials and let them know what you think of letting politicians, rather than scientists, decide the fate of wildlife.

EXHIBIT B: Bears disapprove of country music. (Artist not specified.)

Meanwhile, last week one irritated Coloradoan black bear also found himself rudely subjected to an unwelcomed soundtrack.

A plumber working in a crawl space under a residential cottage at the Boulder Community Hospital quite nearly came face-to-face with the bear, who apparently decided that, as hibernating locations go, the cottage accommodations were a step up from your traditional cave. State Department of Wildlife officials hoped to avoid tranquilizing the bear. (“’If we tranquilize it, we have to put ear tags on it, and it would have been considered a one-strike bear’—a creature seen as a risk to the human population.”)

So, like a certain teenaged Norwegian half a world away, DOW attempted a musical solution. Sidling a radio into the crawl space, they turned up the volume—to country music. The bear apparently lasted a few hours, before he threw in the towel and fled to more hospitable environs. Officials diplomatically declined to identify the artists who participated in the aural assault.

If DOW had tuned into news radio instead, the bear might have been interested to hear about the new management plan recently released by U.S. Forest Service and Department of Agriculture. The rule will affect how national forests and grasslands are protected—for the next 15–20 years. As Earthjustice Campaign Manager Liz Judge reports, the plan is thick with lofty ideals, but thin on actual standards and measures.

Moreover, the bear would have been concerned about how the plan applies to him, as Earthjustice Attorney Kristen Boyles tells us that “the wildlife conservation proposal embedded in the draft rule only requires attention once the species is on life support.” Yikes. Fortunately, this management plan is only a draft. The public—that's you—will have 90 days to weigh in with their thoughts and opinions. Keep an ear out for us on Facebook, Twitter, or email, and we’ll keep you posted on how you can participate.

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