December 18, 2009
Wolves have been accused of it but the predator with the reputation for killing for sport isn’t the wolf, it’s man.
I’ve often asked myself why people trophy hunt, this is especially relevant now since wolves are firmly in the cross-hairs, with the ongoing wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho.
Wolves aren’t being hunted for food. Hunters make a personal decision to go out and kill a wolf just because it’s there.
Over 25,000 wolf tags have been sold in the two states to kill 295 wolves. A little over kill, don’t ya think? Add to that the hatred some people feel for wolves, it makes for an even scarier and mean spirited climate for wolves.
Even before the wolf hunts began the air was charged with anti-wolf bias. The governors of Montana and Idaho inserted themselves into the negative wolf rhetoric. Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana made a questionable statement about federal Judge Molloy, who is presiding over a lawsuit brought by environmental groups to reverse the wolf delisting. The plaintiffs were asking for an injunction, to stop the wolf hunts, while the merits of the case were being decided. Governor Schweitzer stated: ”If some old judge says we can’t (hunt wolves), we’ll take it back to another judge.” That was a totally indefensible remark for the Gov of a state to make. especially since it was couched as a threat. Gov Otter of Idaho went one better. Back in 2007, before wolves were even delisted, he stated, in front of a rally of hunters, many wearing camouflage, he was prepared to manage the wolf population down to just 100 animals. He went even further stating “. “I’m prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself.”
The “management” or killing of wolves is sanctioned by the states of Montana and Idaho but exactly who is this benefiting? Certainly not the ninety percent of the non-hunting public. Wolves and other predators are being “managed” for the benefit of a few interest groups, mainly elk hunters, ranchers and outfitters. The rest of us, who want to view wildlife in their natural state, which means “not dead”, don’t seem to count. Our wildlife is being slaughtered for the benefit of a few. That is inherently wrong but it continues because hunting and ranching interests have powerful lobbies that seek to influence policy. That’s the way business has been conducted and unless and until the politics of the usual are replaced with the politics of change, our predators will continue to suffer.
The states of Montana and Idaho and many others have made the decision which wildlife they consider important and which are disposable. There is no need to manage predators yet we spend millions of tax payers dollars tracking, collaring and killing predators and other wildlife by cruel means, IE. poisoning (1080 compound, M44s), denning and trapping.) All this is for agriculture and hunting interests. The rest of us be damned.
The states aren’t comfortable with predators controlling ungulate populations because they cater to hunting and ranching lobbies, who bring millions of dollars into state coffers. When predators, like the wolf, increase in number, the call rings out for them to be “managed”. “In 2008, wolves are known to have killed fewer than 200 cattle and sheep in Montana, and 100 wolves were hunted down in response.” How can you even defend that kind of senseless slaughter? Yet the states of Montana and Idaho trumpet their wild life management practices are backed by “science”. I would like to see the science that condones 100 wolves losing their lives for the death of 200 livestock?
In January 2008, before the current wolf delisting took place, FWP issued revised rules concerning the “management” of gray wolves, who had been reintroduced to Central Idaho and Greater Yellowstone in 1995, 1996. The new rules state the feds and tribes can kill more wolves if they become a “threat” to game animals and private property. So once again FWP is “managing” for the benefit of the few ignoring the wants of the many.
Have you ever visited Yellowstone National Park and watched the Druid Peak Pack? Every year, people flock to the park to catch a glimpse of the super star wolves, yet Montana FWP decided to open the wolf hunt right outside park boundaries. This bad decision resulted in the decimation of the famous, Cottonwood pack, specifically alpha female 527f, her mate the alpha male and their daughter.
Enter trophy hunting of wolves into this explosive, negative environment. I won’t call trophy hunting a sport. It’s an unfair game where the hunted aren’t acquainted with the rules. although most hunting falls under that category. The only way it could be considered fair is if you put the “hunters” in the woods without their high powered rifles or bows and have them run up against a wolf or bear with their bare hands, you know, Mano y Mano. How many “brave” hunters would be out there killing wolves for fun in that scenario? I say the number would be ZERO.
Killing for sport is a cowardly exercise that features an uneven playing field between hunters and the hunted, just for the cheap thrill and rush of testosterone (yes most hunters are men). How skillful and brave do you have to be to kill an animal, hundreds of yards away, that has no fighting chance against your high powered rifle? Trophy hunting gives all hunting a bad name.
Even though I’m not a hunter and would never want to kill an animal, there are people who hunt for food. When you examine this a little closer you realize hunting is expensive, so it’s not usually a poverty-stricken person, trying to put meat on the table that’s “hunting for food.” You have to have money to hunt. There are tags to buy, high cost rifles and ammunition, hunting equipment, etc., it all adds up to big bucks, pun intended. People who choose to hunt elk, deer or moose, do so at great expense! The main reason given for sustenance hunting does not really stand up when you examine it closely. I believe people hunt, not because they want to fill their freezers but because they enjoy the thrill of the chase, enjoy the outdoor experience, getting away from it all and derive some pleasure from the actual kill itself. But, if hunters at least eat what they kill, then the animal didn’t die in vain. I will never, ever condone hunting for myself but I won’t malign all hunters.
On the other hand, killing for fun cannot be defended, IE. trophy hunting or sport hunting. It’s blood-lust, pure and simple. Wolves should not be subjected to this in the 21st Century. We’ve already exterminated them in the West once, are we aiming for round two?
Why State Fish and Game Agencies Can’t Manage Predators
By George Wuerthner, 4-17-09
Categories posted in: Wolf wars, wolves under fire
Tags: killing wolves for fun, wolves in the crossfire, Wildlife Services, Obama administration de-listing