The fat from a single bear can provide 48,960 calories; that is enough to provide for 1 average sized human body the appropriate amount of sustenance for 24.5 days. That is just the fat. [Unfortunately for myself, this is not knowledge gained from my own experience, rather from the sharings of Daniel Vitalis’ personal experience with hunting and using a whole bear.]
Most people are surprised when it is revealed that my interest in rewilding the spaces we live, love or play in, is intensely motivated by my desire to rewild my own diet. However, as a farmer and shepherd, my experience of living with the land and receiving the abundant gifts of nature, has cultivated a desire within me to see ecosystem health become a priority to our society.
I deeply enjoy being partnered up with the animals that I trust and feel safe around; I see us moving through and tending to the land together as a great start. However, as the health of the landscapes increase and they begin to flourish, the energy required to maintain their balance is increased. In this pursuit, the need of our planet could become more than land stewards and domesticated species can impact at the appropriate rate. Who better to tend to this achievement of ecologic abundance than the bear; the elk; the antelope; the bison?
If we arrive one day to our home being once again shared by the wild hooves, the black bear, the lion, the wolves, I wonder if we would restrict the earth’s ability to thrive in that achieved health by arguing over the one right way of being on the land? The bear population could move into your area, grow and be thriving before your government has even realized it was an issue, let alone followed protocols to deciding how to deal with it. Hunters provide a huge portion, sometimes all, of the funding for conservation of wildlife and habitat. Hunters provide food. Hunters provide a disturbance on the landscape that is necessary in order to create biological diversity.
I am not [yet] bored with the 10 meat options given to me at the butcher shop, but I am definitely bored with the landscape being void of diversity. I am bored with the cows. When I drive up or down the coast, I imagine herds of elk sprinkled throughout. Antelope running, goats climbing, bear tromping, birds of every shape and size soaring and diving. I imagine the mountain lions I can not see and the wolves waiting for the right moment. Do not misunderstand me, there are cows out there, being managed in ways that could lead right into this fantasy; for those cows, I am deeply grateful.
This is only the beginning of the conversation and for those who live in california with me, we probably have a long time to discuss it. But for now, I will continue to daydream about a landscape full of the animals I would love to share it with. I will continue to dream of a space where no one is hungry. I will continue to dream of a food system so rich and diverse that our minds will wander to what we wish to taste rather than what we wish to own.
For those of you interested in exploring this idea more, Daniel Vitalis hosts a fine platform for conversations about such captivating topics, and the following podcast with the inspirational George Monbiot [author of Feral] is educational, moving and pretty radical to anyone tapping into their primitive side.
** Please do not misinterpret my words, I have mad respect for the domesticated bovines and the people who work with them to improve our landscapes and provide food for our species and other species we love. I have no interest in removing them from the food system or the land, just in finding the capacity to share those spaces.