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PostPosted: December 3rd, 2010, 8:58 am 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 7514
Location: Scarbados, Ontario Canada
Once in a while it's good to look across the fence and see how other cultures deal with issues. Some years ago, Germany had a bear problem, and let's see how they solved it. The observations by US diplomatic staff were recently made public in Wikileaks and make for some fine reading.

The gist of it all has its parallels in Canada as well:
True wilderness, even in mountainous Bavaria, hasn't really existed in Germany for generations -- nature is good, as long as it is controlled, channeled, and subdued. If the saga of Bavaria's "Problem Bear" is any indicator, the strategy of reintroducing wild bears to the Alps, at least the German Alps, may be doomed to failure -- that is, unless the bears are willing to cooperate by not being too wild.

Here's the whole corresponding sent back home to Washington, as gleaned from the SPiegel Magazine:
<<69936>> 6/30/2006 13:30 06MUNICH397 Consulate Munich UNCLASSIFIED


Unclas section 01 of 02 munich 000397



E.o. 12958: n/a Tags: pgov, senv, gm Subject: bruno's last stand -- first wild bear in 170 years proves too wild for bavaria

------- summary -------

1. Despite all the attention surrounding the World Cup, EADS' woes and health care reform, Bavarians and many Germans have been transfixed by a two-year-old brown bear named "Bruno" that wandered across international borders into Bavaria, a government minister's agenda, a hunter's crosshairs, and the hearts of millions. Following Bruno's government-sanctioned shooting, questions remain over the political fallout and the future of wild bears in the German Alps. The incident also offers a snippet of insight into German attitudes toward the environment. End Summary.

----------------------- a visitor named "bruno" -----------------------

2. The bear, dubbed "Bruno" by the media, began his journey in Italy, where he was released as part of a program to reintroduce brown bears from Slovenia in the Alps. After wandering across the border from Austria, he was first sighted in Bavaria on May 20. As the first wild bear seen in Germany since 1835, Bruno was initially extended a warm public welcome by Bavarian Environment Minister Werner Schnappauf -- after all, Bruno could prove a boon for Bavaria's image just as visitors from around the world arrived for the World Cup.

------------------ the "problem bear" ------------------

3. However, as Bavarian Interior Minister Beckstein has often emphasized, foreigners are only welcome in Bavaria provided they are willing to adapt to German culture and traditions. Bruno quickly wore out his welcome by raiding stables, killing sheep, chickens, and a child's pet rabbit. The Bavarian government declared Bruno "Ursus non Grata" and ordered that he be shot or captured. Vexed by Bruno's unchecked roaming across Bavaria -- he was even seen sitting on the steps of a police station eating a guinea pig -- Minister-President Edmund Stoiber took to referring to him as "the Problem Bear."

4. Nevertheless, Bruno appeared to win the battle for the hearts and minds of the public -- Schnappauf received some 1,300 letters and drawings from children all over Germany appealing for Bruno to be kept alive. Following criticism of the edict that Bruno be shot, Schnappauf gave the animal a stay of execution and, at a cost of over Euro 125,000, flew in a special trap from Colorado and a team of Finnish bear hunters with specially trained dogs. After the Finnish hunters failed at their task, Schnappauf reinstated the shoot-to-kill order effective June 26. Early in the morning of that same day, Bruno met his demise at the hands of an (as yet) unnamed hunter. Bruno, stuffed, is to be put on display at a natural history museum in Munich's Nymphenburg Palace.

----------------------------------- "may his ursine soul rest in peace" -----------------------------------

5. Almost immediately, criticism of the Bavarian government started pouring in from across Bavaria and the world. Minister Schnappauf has received multiple death threats and calls for his resignation. State prosecutors have received nine legal complaints, several against Schnappauf, for alleged breaches of hunting and animal protection laws. Death threats have also been made against the hunter. Schnappauf has defended himself by saying that had Bruno attacked a human, calls for his resignation would be better justified. Future bears, he said, would be welcome in Bavaria, provided they behaved appropriately.

6. The "Bruno" saga has received a disproportional share of press play, including in the international media. The Munich tabloid "TZ," which has devoted no less than eleven cover pages to Bruno since May 21, published an obituary threatening revenge at the voting booth for Bruno's death, and called on people to send protest letters and e-mails to Minister-President Stoiber and Minister Schnappauf. Germany's major tabloid "Bild" even suggested a state funeral for Bruno might be appropriate. "Spiegel Online's" daily updated "Bruno Watch" included an obituary entitled "A Problem Bear or Bavaria's Problem?" and compared Bruno's death with that of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, and Princess Diana. Mirroring the sentiment of the general public, the piece concluded: "For indeed Bruno was murdered, shot down in the prime of his young life, executed

Munich 00000397 002 of 002

in cold blood. We should reflect now on whether we feel happy with what we have done. We share a collective guilt for Bruno's demise, our inability to co-exist with nature has yet again prompted us to reach for the trigger. Bruno is dead and we are all the poorer for it: May his ursine soul rest in peace."

------- comment -------

7. Bruno has been the media's June flavor of the month. While the attention lavished on Bruno has taken nearly everyone by surprise, we expect the criticism leveled at Schnappauf and Stoiber to be relatively fleeting -- radical animal rights advocates who make death threats aren't generally considered the CSU's base anyway. Perhaps the greatest insight from the whole Bruno affair might be that despite the veneer of "greenness" extolled by German society, modern Germany in fact coexists uneasily with untamed nature. The contrast between the massive hunt for the first wild bear seen in Bavaria in over 170 years and the recent story of a clawless housecat treeing a bear in New Jersey couldn't be much more stark. True wilderness, even in mountainous Bavaria, hasn't really existed in Germany for generations -- nature is good, as long as it is controlled, channeled, and subdued. If the saga of Bavaria's "Problem Bear" is any indicator, the strategy of reintroducing wild bears to the Alps, at least the German Alps, may be doomed to failure -- that is, unless the bears are willing to cooperate by not being too wild.

8. This report has been coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

9. Previous reporting from Munich is available on our SIPRNET website at .


“What is the good of having a nice house without a decent planet to put it on?” - Thoreau

PostPosted: December 4th, 2010, 10:52 am 

Joined: September 8th, 2006, 7:11 pm
Posts: 921
Location: winnipeg
Interesting read. I frequently am baffled at how some people define "wilderness", and how they can consider places that are developed and modified by people to be wilderness. For example, recreational parks are never, in my opinion, wilderness (certain parks that exist only for preservation, such as Wapusk, may be considered wilderness, but Algonquin surely isn't). I suppose taking it a step further, there is no true wilderness left, as humans have altered every ecosystem on earth - which I take was McKibben's premise in The End of Nature.

Thanks for the info. I didn't want to try to read the million+ pages of Wikkileaks!

PostPosted: December 6th, 2010, 2:08 pm 
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Joined: November 7th, 2003, 5:57 pm
Posts: 930
Location: Cambridge Ontario
A quote from a speech given by Margaret Atwood at a University of Waterloo commencement in the eighty's, "Nature used to suround us, now we surround nature and the change hasn't necessarily been for the better."

"Nature used to surround us, now we surround nature and the change hasn't necessarily been for the better."
Margaret Atwood

PostPosted: December 11th, 2010, 7:46 am 
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Joined: April 4th, 2004, 3:17 am
Posts: 247
Location: Jämtland, Sweden
One thing I have learned is that wilderness is relative, and allways one step further away. I live in central Sweden (with about he same implications as "middle latitude-wise" would have in Canada, even if our north is less wild than yours). To an average person from Holland this is wilderness, to the locals it is home. Many parts of continental Europe has been drastically reshaped by man for 3-4000 years, and I would be suprised if one could find any area in the world outside Antarctica that is not touched be man. The Canadian north is perhaps not reshaped by 2000 years of agriculture, or 3-500 years of logging and subsistence farming, but I am pretty confident that there are plenty traces of man if you know what to look for. Has human hunters affected any species? Any mines? Any roads, railroads or power lines?

I recently visited NE Germany, and there basically was no untouched land there, and hasn't been for thousands of years. it is all managed, one way or another, and people live close to each other. But the country-side people live further from each other than in the villages, and the villages are less dense than the towns. I have three neighbours within 300 m, and scores of them within a km, even if I have the woods on one side of me (30-40 km to the next neighbour there); to the people in London the difference between my home and Dick Proeneckes cabin is one of degree, not principle, and even in Stockholm most would see me as living a fairly "bush" life (water piped into the house from a well, woodburner for heat, etc). To me it is fairly "suburban", for me wilderness is things like no (to a biologist) clearly visible traces logging, no power lines, no roads, etc. My house, the cell phone tower on the ridge across the river, the clear-cut area, etc, all make it not a wilderness.

Basically, wilderness is no longer an absolute, but a matter of degree, and should be compared to what is around it and the speakers background. Sad, but true.



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