Today wolves will be front and center in Judge Molloy’s courtroom AGAIN. I’m sure the anti-wolfers will be out in force, waving their signs, complaining about an animal most of them have never seen or ever will see in the wild. But then we all know this crazy, unrelenting, sick campaign against wolves is at its heart, a culture war. On one side we have the passionate wolf advocates who believe wildlife has worth, above and beyond killing them for pleasure. We want wolves protected, not a replay of 2009, when 500 wolves died in the Northern Rockies, mainly at the hands of hunters, Wildlife Services and poachers.
On the other side of this war are the anti-wolf forces. They claim wolves have worms (OH MY), they’re Canadian, they’re killing all the elk, they’re killing all the livestock, they’re carrying off children from bus stops, chasing people around in the woods and generally just destroying lives.
Of course this is all Kabuki Theater and pure BS. The tapeworm they’re so worked up about can be carried by all canines and since we have over 70 million dogs in this country I think they should worry about their house wolves, not the wild ones. Has there been one recorded case of a wolf biologist contracting hydatid disease in this country? I haven’t read of one. Since wolf biologists handle wolves and wolf scat you’d think they would be dropping like flies, according to the wolf hating crowd. But you know, facts are pesky things, they get in the way of lies and damn lies.
As for wolves being Canadian, what does that even mean? Wolves have been crossing back and forth across the invisible line that separates the US and Canada for thousands of years. When wolves were exterminated the first time around in the West, they came back to Montana on their own in the early eighties, after the dust had settled and they felt safe enough to make the trip. By that time they were protected under the ESA. There have been wolves living and denning in Glacier National Park for thirty years, long before they were officially “reintroduced” in 95/96 to Yellowstone and Central Idaho.
Wolves don’t even come close to being a serious threat to livestock. Actually all predation accounts for just 1% of cattle losses and it’s the coyote, not the wolf who is the main predator of livestock. In 2oo9 it was reported coyotes killed 12,000 lambs and 2300 sheep in Montana, while wolves were responsible for a few hundred. I don’t want to demonize coyotes, who labor under terrible persecution themselves, just offering a little perspective on this crazy war on wolves. Cattle losses from the little coyote “song dogs” are nothing compared to cows dying from disease, calving and weather or being carted off by rustlers. Thousands of cows even drop dead from altitude sickness. But Wolf Wars isn’t about the truth. It about bending the truth. It’s about demonizing an animal who is the least dangerous of all large carnivores. Heck, deer are more dangerous than wolves. They cause hundreds of deaths each year in auto accidents, ringing up billions of dollars in damages.
Moose kill more people than wolves. Bees kill more people than wolves. Hunters kill more people than wolves, there are at least 100 fatal hunting accidents each year in the US and Canada alone, with many more people maimed and injured. But wolves, well they haven’t killed anyone in the lower forty-eight in ONE HUNDRED YEARS. And wolves are shy creatures. They fear man, they’ve been persecuted a long, long time. They want to be as far away from people as possible. You can’t count the wolves in Yellowstone, they’re habituated. They’ve got biologists chasing them around with helicopters to collar them, visitors lined up with their viewing scopes, tracking their every move. Those wolves don’t fear people and that’s sad because if there is another wolf hunt this year, they will be sitting ducks for hunters, just like the famed Yellowstone Cottonwood Pack, who was decimated with the opening of the 2009 hunt. Yellowstone wolves don’t understand invisible park lines and regularly cross back and forth across the boundary. Hunters were literally waiting for them. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Fair chase?
As for wolves killing all the elk, I think hunters have the wrong predator. They should be looking at themselves in the mirror. Fish and game agencies are in the business of keeping ungulate numbers high and predator numbers low. Why? Because our wild places have been turned into giant game farms for the pleasure of hunters who like to kill things. Their licensing fees pour into state game coffers. Whose side are these agencies going to come down on, the wolf or the hunter?
Since there are almost 400,000 elk in the tri-state area of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, I don’t think we’ll be running out of elk anytime soon. But in terms of wolves competing with human hunters for the elk killing prize, wolves don’t even come close. And wolves do elk a lot more good than man. They cull ungulate herds and keep them healthy.
Wolf Wars is about them and us. It’s about outsiders and insiders. It’s about entitlement and egos. It’s about anti-government sentiment. It’s about machismo and dominion. It’s about pretty much everything except wolves.
So the charade plays out. The ten environmental groups who were part of a victory for wolves last summer ran scared when the anti-wolfers figured out they could run an end-round the ESA and encourage politicians in the wolf states to do their bidding,. So the big orgs caved and made a deal. A very bad deal I might add. They gave up so much and got practically nothing in return. They tied their own hands and agreed not to file a lawsuit until 2o16. That is stunning in its naiveté.
“The plaintiffs have agreed not to challenge any final rule designating and delisting any DPS prior to March 31, 2016. Further, they have agreed not to petition to list either the Northern Rocky Mountains DPS or any wolf population within the NRM DPS within the next three years.”
What makes them think there will be any wolves left in Montana and Idaho in 2016? If the states get a hold of them wolves could be gone by 2o13 or on their way out. Yet these groups were willing to make a deal with wolves’ lives, knowing the brutality that awaits them? Have they not been listening to the Governors of those states and their rhetoric, trash talking the federal wolf management plans?
A special thank you to the four groups that refused to settle, Friends of the Clearwater, WWP, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and The Humane Society of the United States. You are heroes for standing firm and not running from a fight.
My hope is Judge Molloy will not sign off on this deal. I find it hard to believe he will, having to stay his own decision. Last August he ruled it was illegal to delist one segment of the wolf population while keeping another listed. Now he is being asked to set that aside?
Wolves are once again on the chopping block. It’s more high drama, I’m sure it will sell papers and increase ratings. For wolves the stakes couldn’t be higher. Some days I’m ashamed to be human.
Federal Judge to Consider Gray Wolf Yet Again
Posted by George Prentice on Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 3:15 PM
Wolf deal faces first test before Judge Molloy
Thursday, March 24, 2011 5:00 am
Photo: Courtesy kewlwallpapers.com
Posted in: Wolf Wars
Tags: settlement, Montana wolves, Idaho wolves, ESA, Judge Molloy, wolf myths