A Letter To The Furbearers
By Douglas Balmain
Dear Predators, Dear Furbearers:
My apologies for the way in which I’ve addressed you all—these generalizations are how humans name your kinds. I do not know how you name yourselves, so I too have submitted to the use of these inadequate terms.
The vast majority of human society does not think of you—you are too foreign, too far removed from our experience. We’re too insulated by our cities and infrastructures; you are a passing curiosity if anything at all. Consumers do not see mink packed into cages, or the coyote suffering in a trap thousands of miles away—they have no concept of how their luxury items came into being. They see only their own images; they feel only their own egos and its desires. Those who are presented with the realities of your situations are quick to look away; what they see is uncomfortable—it is easier for them to remain ignorant and removed.
But, you are not strange to all of my kind. Some know of you well and they seek you out. They view you as lesser beings, as commodities—many of these people derive sadistic pleasures from harming you. Of course, most will not say that out loud, not even to themselves. They instead call their practices by names like wildlife management, predator-control, conservation, even sport. They call themselves stewards of the land—others absolve their acts by saying, “It’s just business.” You’d be baffled and awestruck by the complex narratives we construct to justify our acts and satiate our desires.
There do exist those who wish to protect you, many of them, in fact. They fight tireless, and often futile, battles in an effort to establish laws that would see you kept safe. They draft what are called “bills” and subject them to our dysfunctional system of government. But, at that point, your bill is no longer about you and your welfare, as its text states. The bill becomes instead about the individuals who wear flags pinned to their lapels and the divided factions they represent; they think only of how the words in the bill’s text might affect their will-to-power, how they might use them to hurt their competition, or how their competition might use the bill to hurt them.
We are a loathsome species, our history is one of violence and oppression. Good does exist in us, and there are those of us who seek to make the world better, but we cannot alter our nature. Good and evil do not act as opposing sides of a scale—to be weighed and balanced.
We will continue to force you into dire circumstances, we will take your homes and your lives, we will bring you nothing but torment and persecution. When you pursue your own survival, we will condemn your acts. As you grow your beautiful coats our vanity will be watching, we will become envious, and we will take them from you to wear as our own.
My kind are intelligent and maniacal, vain and unempathetic, conflicted and contrary, greedy and dangerous. This is human nature, we are blind destroyers.
Be cunning and distrustful, never allow yourself to feel safe. Keep your senses alert, step carefully, do not linger away from cover. Be suspicious of all that feels new or foreign and hide your families well: this is the life we’ve imposed upon you.
You have a voice in my thoughts and a place in my soul, but that is not enough—I am not your savior, I cannot save you.
My best wishes,
Pine Marten photo courtesy of Jessica Hadley