If it pleases the court, I’d like to present our case: Mr. Ursus Horribilis vs. the State of Sanity.
Our case seeks to right a terrible wrong perpetrated nine decades ago. The ancestors of our client – seated before you in a golden fur coat and standing about 10 feet tall; please don’t wake him – were hunted to extinction and wrongfully removed from their homelands. Then, in an act of pure cynicism, our client’s likeness was usurped and put on the state flag of California. Shameful.
To remedy this grave injustice, our client seeks control of about 20,000 square miles of the Sierra range from north of Yosemite to south of Bakersfield. It must come fully stocked with deer, an abundance of berries, tree moths, salmon and elk– even though there haven’t been salmon in those rivers since the rim dams were built and the nearest elk is 200 miles away. But we digress.
Once comfortably situated, we are certain Mr. Horribilis, and maybe 800 of his relatives, can live there in contented peace. Like exhibits in a big zoo, just without cages.
If they can’t, then we’ll require the state to protect Mr. Horribilis and his kin from deprivations, attacks and discrimination. We’ll return to this court to seek remedies and ask you to punish those threatening our client’s tranquility.
Naturally, other members of our legal team will constantly monitor this vast area for Mr. Horribilis, since, after all, he is a bear. A grizzly bear, to be precise, otherwise known as an apex predator.
Any activity that might preclude Mr. Horribilis from enjoying his new territory, depriving him of his favorite foods, bringing him into contact with intruders or impeding his daily 50- or 60-mile excursions, will not be tolerated. He is, after all, a protected species – just like the salmon he will feed on, the thousands of blue butterfly larvae he will consume and maybe even the elderberries he might like to try.
We at the Sierra Clubhouse, Natural Resources Defenders Council and Center for Bio-Obliviousness are already preparing lawsuits to limit the access of noisy obnoxious vehicles, the discharge of firearms or wearing of colors that might offend Mr. Horribilis. To live contentedly, Mr. Horribilis needs peace and quiet, away from the screams of those who might suddenly encounter him on a trail or while walking through tall meadow grass.
At the same time, your honor, we demand the state of California cease its use of Mr. Horribilis’ likeness on flags, emblems, stuffed bears and other such embarrassing merchandise. Our marketing executives at Buddies of Wildlife have entered into an exclusive arrangement with Mr. Horribilis to use his friendly face for fundraising. We will make tastefully designed T-shirts, cuddly Grizzly Plushies and dinnerware with his smiling face available to all – for a suitable donation.
Proceeds from these donations will, naturally, be used to reintroduce other species that once roamed California but have since been viciously discriminated against – such as the saber-toothed cat, the woolly mammoth and Lost River sucker. Or, we could use these funds to hire more executives to live in San Francisco and occasionally fly over the Sierra so they can wave to Mr. Horribilis from 10,000 feet.
We are also requesting a restraining order to keep human contact to a minimum, unless, of course, Mr. Horribilis chooses to have a human or two over for dinner. That has been the custom of some of his relatives in Yellowstone National Park recently. We believe no more than three have been, uh, consumed since 2011. In Alaska, it’s no more than two or three a year.
And we ask the court for a monthly appointment, purely as a convenience. We fully realize the mountainous Sierra habitat isn’t really best for Mr. Horribilis, whose ancestors preferred open spaces such as foothill grasslands and coastal beaches. So we will be back in your court repeatedly to protect his interests when he strays out of the mountains and encounters other creatures – just as we have recently done in Wyoming. A regular appointment will also make it easier for us to collect appropriate fees, settlements and get publicity.
Our marketing expert and scientist, the fellow over there dressed in a “Take No Prisoners” T-shirt, figures those fees will help us raise funds for our other favorite causes – such as acclimating salmon to a bathtub-warm San Joaquin River; teaching striped bass not to eat smelt, and pitching hissy fits over any plan to save more water behind a dam for not-so-rainy days.
Yes, your honor, we are asking that you invite Mr. Horribilis into your home. Who wouldn’t want to have to a few cuddly, berry-eating 10-foot grizzly bears as pets? Any questions?
What’s that, your honor? What do you mean that environmentalists in suits scare you more than grizzly bears?