Selected Articles from our
The C.A.S.H. Courier
ARTICLE from the Fall 2010 Issue
From The Brink Of Oblivion And Back Again?
By Jim Robertson
For hundreds of thousands of years, wolves played a central role as
keepers of nature’s balance across the American landscape. The
personification of untamed wilderness, wolves have little patience or
tolerance for the human world. Their presence is a sign of an ecosystem
Meanwhile, man’s efforts—both historic and ongoing—to rid the world of
his best friend’s canine cousins, are part of a grand design to dominate
wild places and control Mother Nature herself. The right of a species not to
be hunted to extinction is a relatively new advancement. It’s still about
the only right extended to non-human animals thus far in American history.
The 1996 reintroduction of wolves to the northern Rocky Mountains in
Yellowstone and wilderness areas of Central Idaho as mandated by the
Endangered Species Act—along with protections against hunting and trapping
all too briefly afforded them under the ESA—gave the wolf a temporary
reprieve and allowed Nature to reign again over some of her sovereign lands.
But the return of the “big bad” wolf struck terror into the hearts of
little red-state, redneck riding hoods, who habitually hate what they fear.
Bigotry against wolves has thrived across the country since colonial times
and wolves have long been the object of unwarranted phobias. Today’s
wolf-haters panic at the thought of natural predators competing for “their”
trophy “game” animals and loathe anything that might threaten their
exploitative way of life. They view the federal government as the enemy in
their ongoing combat against wilderness, and grasp for local control of
species like wolves and grizzly bears, who, until recently, were all but
extinct in the continental U.S. Far from being their foe however, the
federal government has actually been a fervent ally. The recent removal of
wolves from the federal Endangered Species List, long before they were truly
recovered, fits right in with a centuries-old, historic norm.
Despite remarkable advances in the understanding of wolves’ social
behavior and necessary place in a healthy ecosystem, willfully ignorant
ruralites in the tri-state area of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have no more
regard for wolves than those who caused their near extinction in the past.
The posture they assume on the subject of wolves is as warped and
ill-informed as any Massachusetts witch hunter’s.
The Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, backed by a well funded trophy elk-hunting
industry, filed an initiative petition for the 2008 ballot demanding the
removal of “all” wolves from the state “by whatever means necessary.”
Fortunately, even in a state famous for militias and neo-Nazi compounds (not
to mention, potatoes), the petition failed to collect the required number of
signatures to move forward with that avaricious initiative. Still, the Idaho
state government is quietly implementing the “by whatever means” line of
attack, adding aerial hunting (a method especially dear to Sarah Palin’s
heart) and trapping to their wolf decimation arsenal. No wonder some
Idahoans feel they can get away with a call for the renewed obliteration of
an entire species: their governor, “Butch” Otter, openly boasted he hoped to
be the first to shoot a wolf when they lose federal protection.
Meanwhile, Wyoming’s current state “game” management plan calls for
wolves to be shot on sight anywhere outside Yellowstone National Park,
supposedly to safeguard range cattle (who are actually 147 times more likely
to fall prey to intestinal parasites than to wolves). The removal of this
tormented canid from the federal Endangered Species List in 2009 played
right into the hands of anti-wolf fanatics and cleared the path for the
bloodiest butchery of wolves in almost a century. Case in point: it took
less than a week for hunters set up just outside the park to kill all of the
adult wolves in Yellowstone’s well-known and much-loved Cottonwood pack,
leaving their pups to starve.
Since wolves were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies, their population
has fluctuated, reaching a high of about 1500 individuals in 2007. An
impressive figure perhaps, unless you consider that 5,450 wolves were
murdered in 1884 in Montana alone, after the first bounty was instated
there. With a return of widespread wolf hunting, it could take just a few
seasons for today’s anti-wolf bigots to send this misunderstood embodiment
of wilderness back to the brink of oblivion.
Please contact Jim Robertson at
[[email protected]] and visit his website at:
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