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Presidential candidate John McCain’s love-hate relationship with bears

Presidential candidate John McCain’s love-hate relationship with bears

Presidential candidate John McCain’s love-hate relationship with bears

Jeremy Hance,
August 21, 2008

Senator John McCain has frequently cited an earmark to a bill proving funds for a study of grizzly bears in Montana as an example of the worst pork-and-barrel spending in Washington. The study was included in an ad for McCain entitled “Outrageous” during the primaries. However, according to, Senator McCain voted for the earmark he now derides.

Senator McCain introduced three amendments to the bill to “reduce funding for projects he considered wasteful or harmful, but none removing the grizzly bear project appropriations” writes McCain voted for the final bill, grizzly study and all.

In addition, McCain has mischaracterized the bill. He describes the bill as a “bear paternity test” with “$3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana”. However, the study actually had nothing to do with grizzly bear paternity. Again, according to, the study was working to survey the grizzly bear population in Montana by collecting samples of hair on barbed wire. Grizzly bears in Montana are protected under the Endangered Species Act and population counts are vital to any species listed under the act.

On his website McCain states that “a McCain White House will reflect the guiding principles of Theodore Roosevelt, America’s foremost conservation president.” Yet McCain’s mockery (and mischaracterization) of a scientific study of a mammal so important to America’s ecosystems appears to belie Roosevelt’s conservation legacy. Roosevelt, a well-respected big game hunter, is even famous for refusing to kill a black bear on a hunt in 1902—an incident which led to the famous ‘teddy bear’.

Recently, McCain had another opportunity to prove his Roosevelt-like conservation ethics when asked about the Bush Administration’s planned changes to the Endangered Species Acts. These changes have been generally decried by scientists, conservationists, and the mainstream media, yet when asked about the proposed changes, McCain responded with “no comment”.

In 1905, after watching the American bison population dwindle to almost nothing, McCain’s purported model Roosevelt co-founded The American Bison Society, charged with saving the bison from imminent extinction. The society succeeded.

In contrast to McCain, Senator Obama has stated that he opposes the changes planned by the Bush Administration. Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for Obama, told the AP that “after over 30 years of successfully protecting our nation’s most endangered wildlife like the bald eagle, we should be looking for ways to improve it, not weaken it. As president, Senator Obama will fight to maintain the strong protections of the Endangered Species Act and undo this proposal from President Bush.”

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