As society moves away from rural heritage, decisions and laws are misinformed and bringing unforseen consequences

Over the past few months I have received several questions on a term I frequently us in this space. What am I referring to when I mention an “Urbanized Mentality?”

It refers to our society that is getting further and further away from our historic roots. More people are living in urban and suburban areas for various reasons. And in those locales, the lessons of rural America are rarely being taught anymore.

The differences in just the past 60 years are glaringly apparent. Back then, many public schools taught rifle marksmanship or had in-school rifle clubs. Rural outdoor activities were often dominated by sport hunting, fishing and trapping, and the local game warden was either the most popular or most feared officer of all.

Today, the importance of wildlife management by sport hunting is often overlooked as the ranks of hunters continues to shrink. A new mentality, mostly supported and encouraged by the modern urban lifestyle of 21st century living, emphasizes cell phones, electronic games and computers over almost anything related to the outdoors. Pixels have almost completely replaced panfish as the game of choice.

This is true for our overall lifestyle at the highest political levels. Many urban and suburban residents are blissfully unaware that our national and many state governments have become political pawns to the desire for evermore increases of power for themselves and more control over the people they are supposed to serve. Therefore those politicians are more than willing to “create” a crisis that ultimately serves their goals. 

Is that statement hard to believe? Think about global warming, renamed climate change after the warming stopped for almost two decades. We now know it is a completely manufactured “crisis” with no basis in fact. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been manipulating (falsely increasing) the land and water surface temperatures to give the appearance of continued global warming. In reality it is nothing more than a big lie supplied by the government and that benefits wind, solar and ethanol companies at the expense of taxpayers.

The Affordable Care Act is another prime example of government lies to gain more control over people. Remember the “if you like your doctor or health insurance company you can keep them” lies? And they were lies then just as they are still lies today. 

But my primary concern relative to the urbanized mentality relates to something else. Our wild heritage, which includes everything from our fish and wildlife legacy to the humblest acre of government-owned ground, is also suffering from human-induced lies or indifference. It seems that many politicians are far more interested with gathering votes and political donations than with any fish or wildlife issues.

Examples of politicians, strongly supported by urban-minded individuals and groups, meddling in proven scientific fish or wildlife management activities, are numerous. They literally ignore the scientifically proven truth and instead rely on human emotions to guide and control routine or even critical wildlife management decisions.

Mute swans are just one example. They may be pretty birds to look at, but they are destructive with respect to the environment and especially their own micro-habitats. They were introduced into American ponds from their Asian and European haunts. And for several decades their population was controlled and manageable.

But for the past two decades their population has essentially been out of control. Their numbers have exploded in many areas, most notably on Long Island and portions of southern New York. Biologists have quietly been euthanizing some birds to at least keep the population at manageable levels. 

But Governor Cuomo recently signed a bill protecting those birds. He did so at the request of a state senator and a large group of urban-minded individuals who have little or no knowledge about this species but were encouraged to support this bill based on emotional arguments alone.

The common crow is quite possibly more populous now then at any time in history. Entire villages and cities like Clifton Springs and Auburn have suffered the wrath from these big birds with both loud cawing and the copious quantities of  “guano” left behind each day. 

There is an international treaty currently protecting them from being hunted more than six months and for more than four days per week. The federal government could easily and successfully petition for an exemption to allow year-around hunting for control purposes. But the fear of antagonizing voters with urban-minded beliefs keeps the politicians in line on this issue.

Coyotes are now considered a serious problem across all of New York. They are responsible for killing countless lambs, fawns, house cats, dogs, wild turkeys, grouse and many other critters within the ranks of both farm livestock and wildlife each year. They are, quite possibly, the best survivors and the most efficient predators currently roaming our fields and forests. Add in the fact that the eastern coyote is almost completely nocturnal and the problems of controlling them to any degree are magnified even more.

And yet the urban-minded heads at the NY DEC maintain a protective ban on hunting or trapping them for six months of each year. Despite the problems they cause for both rural and urban residents, they receive almost complete protection from April to September. When asked why the state maintained this six-month ban on taking these critters, the Commissioner of the DEC at that time stated that, “we do not want to appear like we are ganging up on coyotes” with a year-around season. 

I heard that comment myself during a conference phone call. Honestly folks, you just cannot make this stuff up! Common sense no longer exists.

A lack of space prevents me from including similar comments about cougars, black bears or beaver and the serious problems caused by urban-minded individuals and organizations who chose emotions over sound wildlife management. And then there are the ballot initiatives to repeal or alter hunter activities or methods of hunting certain game species. The list goes on.

And do not get me started on the incredible urban-minded problems created by purely liberal concepts such as “Environmental Justice.” 

Just remember that the bottom line of this entire situation is always the emotional manipulation of a misinformed public. Until that public once again becomes invested with a desire to learn and believe the truth, these problems will no doubt continue to plague the experts we know as wildlife scientists.

Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Writer. Contact him at lisenbee@frontiernet.net.