While I try to keep this blog motivational, inspirational and upbeat, always attempting to turn the negative upside down, uncovering the positive that we can find even in times of immense struggle, to be audacious is to be bold. One of my core missions with the Be Audacious movement is to inspire a new surge of guardians, advocates and conservationists willing to stand up for our wild planet. This means having the courage to be vocal, unwavering and adversarial when warranted. Standing up for our wild planet isn’t a popularity contest—it is a moral and ethical responsibility that we as a society must embrace.
Now more than ever, we need young people to become active, engaged and passionate about the plight of our oceans, rivers, forests and wildlife. The science is definitive: our climate is warming. The unprecedented acceleration of rising temperatures is due to human activity increasing greenhouse gases (a recent report from the United Nations acknowledged hundreds of scientists are now 95% certain of this). Two hundred species are going extinct every day—a greater rate of extinction than our planet has seen since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Our planet is in peril. So what are we going to do? Are we going to punk out, be defeatist, and say there is nothing we can do? Or are we going to stand up for the voiceless? Are we going to be audacious as guardians of the only planet we will ever inherit? The answer seems pretty simple.
On a local level here in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, hundreds of Yellowstone bison were slaughtered yet again this winter for following their ancestral instincts to migrate to lower elevation in search of winter forage, a luxury provided to all other species in the state of Montana, but not the elephant of North America. As a guardian and advocate of Yellowstone, (and someone who proudly called Gardiner, Montana, home while raising my daughter amidst the wildness that makes the Gardiner Basin such sacred country), I will always call it like I see it. The attached article tells the story of a man whose atrocities are outrageous, and yet all too predictable as these heinous and abhorrent acts of ignorance and hate have become habitual for this man who lives on the doorstep to our nation’s most iconic landscape, Yellowstone National Park. Disgusting, disgraceful, disturbing and diabolical. Gardiner man shoots bull bison
Today I felt like a modern day rapper—the K’naan of environmental advocacy—laying down rhymes, with fingers flowing across the keyboard for over five hours as I defiantly crafted an edgy, provocative and hopefully, impactful Op-Ed, speaking out against the atrocities of one man’s disgraceful actions that represent a social paradigm and systemic issue that goes beyond the wanton slaughter of a lone bull bison.
It’s long overdue that we as a civilization adopt a land ethic worthy of our planet.
Coming soon, Bison and Bigotry Part II. I hope y’all are ready for it…
~Michael W. Leach
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” ~Aldo Leopold