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
We must stop trapping. It is sad that “just business” has reached so deeply into our lives that it is impossible to consider our “fellow travelers caught in the travails of the earth” (as Beston put it). We need to deliberately seek to increase their happiness. Every move we make should be viewed through the eyes of a fellow traveler to determine the kindest way- the least intrusive way in which to impact their lives and not, under any circumstances make them into coats!
We have evolved… Please be kind to them not savage.
I have never read such a beautifully crafted letter such as this in my life. It really goes to the heart of the matter, saving innocent animals from humans that destroy them..
Thank you Douglas Balmain!!!! Facebook has jailed me for speaking up but I must say your poignant letter to our predators is PERFECT…and from those of us who appreciate you and all predators world wide..we do what we can do…supporting Defenders of Wildlife, nature Conservancy, Sierra Club and many others…but we are so small against the GREED of the “humans” that are attacking our beloved planet… KEEP WRITING!! Much LOVE to you!!!!
You’re so welcome, Leigh. Thank you for the kind words and for all that you do to protect and support this Earth’s wildlife.