Can One Person Save an Endangered Species? See for Yourself. | LearnLiberty

If it were up to you to solve an environmental
problem, how would you do it? Everyone has heard of an entrepreneur, but most of you
probably haven’t heard of an enviropreneur. Hank Fischer is one of these people. Hank
was worried about wolves. The gray wolf was on the endangered species list and extinct
in the American West. This was bad for the local ecology. Wolves were needed to keep
herds of elk and other animals from becoming overpopulated. So Hank made it his mission
to help bring wolves back to their natural habitat. Federal officials were already working on
a plan to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone National Park, but Hank wasn’t sure that
plan was going to work very well. Not only was it going to take too long and cost too
much, but it made a lot of local people angry. For the benefit of the local ecology, Hank
knew that wolf advocates needed to win over private land owners so that wolves could roam
beyond the park. So Hank began meeting with his biggest opponents:
the ranchers surrounding Yellowstone. He thought if he could understand their concerns, he
could figure out a way to address them. His first gathering was in an old school house
in Idaho. Hank describes entering the room and being met by a sea of cowboy hats. When
he started his speech, a rancher stood up and interrupted him, bellowing out, “It’s
easy for you to be a wolf lover; it doesn’t cost you a dime. It’s the people who own
livestock who end up paying for wolves.” This was really a eureka moment for Hank.
He realized that the ranchers’ opposition to wolves was an economic issue. They feared
losing livestock to hungry wolves. So if ranchers could be compensated for their losses, their
opposition might dwindle. Hank began looking for ways to make that happen. He teamed up
with defenders of wildlife to raise private donations for his fund so that he could pay
back ranchers when they lost livestock to predation. Hank also helped develop further incentives
for ranchers to tolerate wolves on their land. For example, ranchers who allowed a wolf den
on their property are eligible for additional compensation. Through these efforts he was
able to start turning a rare species into an asset for landowners rather than a liability.
Soon, the newly reentered wolves began to flourish. Hank had become an environmental
entrepreneur. By observing the incentives that work, he was able to find a solution
that won the voluntary cooperation of local people, and that meant he could help wolves
even when the expanse of legal and bureaucratic solutions were failing them. You may think that this is just one small
example. But this really is happening all over the world in Africa, South America, and
Asia. The nonprofit I work for, PERC, offers support and ideas to entrepreneurs like these
who want to make a real difference for the environment. Don’t you think that if we
could inspire more enviropreneurs we can solve some of the greatest environmental challenges?
Today, wolves are thriving in the west. Just last year they were removed from the endangered
species list. Hank made a difference by thinking beyond the status quo. He found a way to turn
opponents into allies. Do you think you could do the same? I hope you enjoyed this video. To see more
from PERC click on one of these videos[VLA1]. [VLA1]This seems odd to have in an IHS/Learn
Liberty Video…

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