The environmental dilemmas unfolding across the planet don't exist in a vacuum. Tied to each issue is a host of socioeconomic inequalities, population surges, education shortfalls, and half-cocked development plans. Here in Montana, you might be surprised to learn there is one topic that manages to affect them all: grizzly bears.
As people swarm the West to live and recreate, so too comes their food waste, garbage, and other attractants that draw bears into conflict with people—and it’s almost always the bear that pays the price. Using the town of Seeley Lake, MT as an example The Hand That Feeds investigates how increased human activity impacts the wildlife so many come to see.
But it’s more than that.
Beneath the basic “humans trammel pristine habitat/feel sad for bears” story is a town that’s trying to make it work. Despite its relatively limited resources, Seeley Lake residents are getting creative. They're rethinking trash. They're organizing hands-on "Bear Academy" events for schoolchildren. That's worth talking about.
Seen from the perspective of those closest to the issue, this project shows what a humble community in bear country has to teach us about our relationship with wildlife. This is about more than just bears––this is about the things we're willing to change to protect the places we claim to adore. As people expect bears to change their habits to survive in the ever-crowded West, my work explores whether or not people are willing to do the same.