T.R. Michels

T.R. Michels is a professional guide who specializes in trophy whitetail, turkey and bear hunts in Minnesota. He has guided in the Rocky Mountains for elk and mule deer, too. He publishes the Trinity Mountain Outdoors website at www.TRMichels.com.

Research Bears; Conservation Education

Posted by: T.R. Michels under Environment Updated: June 22, 2011 - 5:33 PM

on this blog I’ve previously talked about the research value of the 8-10 bears currently being studied by Dr. Lynn Rogers of the National Bear Center and the Wildlife research Institute. And I’ve talked about the economic value to the city of Ely, the surrounding areas, and the State of Minnesota, brought by the bears and other eco-tourism opportunities (which I believe, are not being capitalized on enough by the State of Minnesota). Now I’ll talk about the educational value of the bears, to not only the school children in over 500 classrooms around the world, but to also to adults, both hunters and anti-hunters. Once a person takes and interest in the bears, they often begin taking an interest in the environment, and how to conserve wildlife habitat. Webster’s Dictionary defines conservation as, "a careful preservation and protection of something; especially: planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect".

Anyone who lives anywhere in the world can see that humans are not only altering the natural environment, but in many cases they are destroying it. And once you destroy habitat, it often takes years to bringing it back to its natural or original state, if it can ever be brought back at all. The more habitat we lose, and the more fragmented the habitat becomes, the more fragile the ecosystems of the habitat becomes, the less natural forage there is, and the smaller the forage base becomes for even the smallest of the higher animals, such as insects, crustaceans and arachnids. The less forage or animal matter there is for each type of animal (as we move up the food chain) to feed on that there is, the lower the population becomes, but the more forage each animal needs to survive. And the larger the animal is, the more quality habitat it needs to survive. And that habitat needs to be contiguous (connected on one or more sides), not fragmented (several small parcels) – because fragmented habitats do not carry as much plant and animal matter as larger blocks of habitat. Plus, fragmented habitat leads to more travel, which expends needed energy, and leaves animals open to being injured or killed by any number of means.

The concept of conservation has lately evolved into the more advanced understanding of the complexity of natural ecosystems, in which everything in an ecosystem is dependent on everything else in that ecosystem. We now look at entire watersheds (meaning all of the land that is drained by a particular stream or river, in all directions, as an ecosystem. This is a great concept, because it accepts the belief that every inch of land in the watershed is important to the ecosystem and its health. It also accepts the belief that in order to be healthy, the ecosystem shouldn’t be fragmented, or it should at least have travel corridors large enough that the largest animals in the ecosystem feel safe enough to use those corridors, to move between the fragmented pieces of the ecosystem.

So, ecosystem management includes not only protection of the habitat, but management of the animal populations within that habitat. And hunting is one of the tools of wildlife management. In some instances hunting is needed to help control the populations of the larger species, especially mammalian predators, which can, if they become too numerous, too accustomed to the presence of man, or move into areas inhabited by man, can be dangerous. Hunting may also be needed to control large herbivores (prey species) such as deer, elk, moose and bison; which if they are not hunted each year, may overpopulate the habitat, with dire consequences for both the animals and humans. The funds generated from hunting licenses, permits and stamp sales make up a large art of the funds needed to manage - not only game animals - but also non-game species, and the habitats they live in. Huntin is a vitalpar f game and habitat management from the smallest specie to the largest.

Actually, this article was brought on by a person who posted a poem on my Protect Minnesota’s Research Bears page on Facebook. Although it was a very well written poem, and it expressed the sentiments of not only the author, but also many other people who want to protect the bears from hunting, it was slightly negative when it cam to hunting, because it asked hunters not to hunt bears at all. It could have, if I had left it on the page, resulted in many hunters not supporting our efforts to protect only the research bears of Dr. Lynn Rogers study.

I contacted the author of the poem, and tried to explain all of that, emphasizing the facts the hunting is a vital tool in game management, and that we wanted the hunters on our side if we wanted to get protection for the bears.

Following is what I wrote to the author of the poem.

Unfortunately this is not the message Protect Minnesota's Research Bears wants to portray. Hunting, whether you like it or not, is a needed game management tool, which helps to keep the bear population in balance with the carrying capacity of the land, and the human social acceptance capacity of the land.

If bears overpopulate (which they will do unless we remove hundreds of them from the habitat every year) they will start to destroy the habitat they depend on, which includes both plants and animals. And as the amount of good habitat gets smaller and smaller, the bears will congregate on these smaller areas, causing stress and fights among the bears. And, because of smaller areas of good habitat, there will not be enough forage for the bears, and they may get sick from malnutrition, and they will eventually die of starvation.

And, when good habitats shrink, bears move into urban areas, getting into garbage, destroying vegetable gardens, and even killing and eating small livestock, not to speak of scaring many residents. They are a danger to humans.

So, we must hunt - or we should be considered very poor stewards of both the animals and the land, and we are not doing our part as Christians, wherein God gave man dominion/mastery over the plants and animals, to with as we please (Gn. 1:26). But, dominion also means to manage, and we would not be doing that - if we did not hunt bears.

Plus, if we want to pass a bill to protect the research bears, we need the support of hunters, who will make up at least 30% of those who will voice their concerns on this matter. We want hunters on our side, not on the side of the legislators or DNR.

I honestly hope I have made this understandable to you. My hope is that you will either remove your poem from any pages concerning the protection of the research bears - because it can only hurt our efforts - or at least make it clear the we want only the research bears protected.

If you have questions or comments - feel free to contact me.



I do not know if this person was an anti-hunter or not, but what I wrote must have made sense to them, because they wrote back to me and said they understood, and they decided to take the poem down.

I’m glad it turned out that way, because I did not want there to be bad feeling on the part of the author. I hope that I explained it in a way that it made sense to them. We need hunhting in order for wildlife management to succeed.


God bless,




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