Sacred Spirit…

A-La-Ke || Wolf



Native American Chant


Videos Courtesy YouTube

Top Photo: Courtesy Sacred Spirit

Middle Photo: First Nations

Posted in: Spiritual, gray wolf

Tags: Sacred Spirit, gray wolf, Native American

Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 12:44 am  Comments (16)  

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16 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. MAy we all walk together In Sacred Spirit for our brothers and SIsters.. our Family ..OUR WOLVEs..


  2. United may we be the voice that is heard to protect our brothers/cousins the wolves and the land upon which they make their homes


  3. Thank you for the beautiful images and soothing music. There is so little to say. The beautiful wolves are being tortured and killed. The government intentionally let loose the evil sadists upon them. I will forever hold accountable for their suffering and ours for them Harry Reid, ken Salazar, and l David mech!


    • You’re welcome Donna, I could listen to that music all day long.

      We haven’t given up and are working hard to find ways to protect wolves.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


  4. Nabeki- do you think the good fight is spreading? Just curious.


    • Bobette…I think it is. I haven’t given up and but just looking for new ways to approach this.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


  5. Wonderful ! The wolf is a sacred spirit for me


  6. Living With Wolves

    The timber wolf is being de-listed from the Threatened and Endangered Species Act by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and management is being turned over to the Minnesota DNR. Currently the Minnesota DNR and soon to be state legislature is pursuing a management plan for the wolf. Special interest groups and concerned citizens are trying to direct the DNR and state government to implement a plan they believe to be in the best interest or in many cases, the worst interests of the wolf. Currently, special interest groups such as the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) and most if not all legislators from the northern counties such as Rep. David Dill (DFL – Crane Lake) and Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL- Grand Rapids) are intending to legislate a much earlier wolf season than the DNR is proposing. The MDHA and northern legislators want to allow hunting of wolves by deer hunters during the firearm season in November – the DNR in January when the pelts are prime. The MDHA and environmentally challenged legislators (which numbers nearly all of both the House and Senate) also intend to increase the numbers of wolves harvested to 750 animals as compared to the 400 proposed by the DNR.

    The DNR and the majority of hunters routinely use the word “harvest” when taking game – I have a problem with harvesting a deer or a forest as though nature created them for our personal consumption and nothing else. I shoot deer and cut trees but I didn’t plant them. I harvest potatoes of which I did plant.

    The kill of white-tails during the 2011 MN DNR rifle season was below expectations, 7% to be exact, and an inordinate amount of grumbling was made by deer hunters about the perceived lack of deer. The vast amount of finger pointing as to the cause of hunters not being able to put their crosshairs on a deer was primarily the wolf, with the DNR coming in a distant second with their supposed inability to manage the states deer herd – as though the state, or least northern Minnesota needs to propagate more deer.

    I believe the bulk of hunters did see far fewer deer than what they have been accustomed to in the last decade or more. I know I saw far fewer deer and a lot of good hunters I know had the same experience.

    A plausible theory

    I am primarily a bow hunter and usually begin to hunt in late September as was the case this year. In a normal year in northern Minnesota where I live and hunt, I see plenty of deer from my hunting locations till about the tenth of October when the forest canopy sheds all its foliage, then the deer suddenly and mysteriously disappear till the rut gets under way in late October. Everything in nature is general but I have always believed that the sudden light intensity penetrating to the forest floor when the canopy and sub-canopy shed their leaves in early or mid October has a profound impact on deer resorting to a preponderance of nocturnal activity. After all, deer and many other forest mammals are crepuscular or nocturnal and there’s simply more minutes in the night than there is during the day after autumnal equinox. What a friend and I have theorized is this; there were record amounts of sunshine from September into mid December this year (2011) in N MN. This record amount of daylight is not just my empirical observations but the observations of the state climatologist. I also live off the electric grid on a ‘stand alone electric solar system’ and I keep careful observations of my electric provider – the sun – and my batteries were fully charged at the end of nearly each day for the entire autumn – a condition that I have never had before in this calendar period. I believe the lack of deer seen by hunters during legal shooting hours of the deer season of 2011 was primarily due to light intensity and not to wolves. Another valid reason to support this theory is that I had a game camera on a tree from the last week in October to November tenth this year (2011) when the batteries went dead. I had the same camera on the same tree for the entire month of October through the November rifle season in 2010. I had more deer pictures this year (2011) than I had last year (2010) even though the camera was up for a considerably longer period in 2010. Another note of interest was that not one deer picture was taken during day light hours this year of 2011 when approximately 25% of the photos from 2010 were in legal daylight shooting hours. Another reason that indicates an abundant and healthy population of deer is that since we have had snow cover, I am seeing more deer sign, than I would typically see this time of the year.

    When will we ever learn?

    Sometime in the 1920’s, a youthful Aldo Leopold, as a U.S. Forest Service employee, shot a wolf from high on a rim-rock in New Mexico and he reached it in time to “…watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

    After his death in 1948, his book, “A Sand County Almanac” was published posthumously in which he so eloquently espoused his famous “the land ethic.” Leopold drew an analogy so we could better understand; he sited Odysseus’ Odyssey and return from the wine dark seas and the war in Troy where “he hanged all on one rope a dozen slave-girls he suspected of misbehavior during his absence.”

    “The hanging involved no question of propriety. The girls were property. The disposal of property was then, as now, a matter of expediency, not of right and wrong….There is as yet no ethic dealing with man’s relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land, like Odysseus’ slave-girls, is still property. The land-relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations.” Leopold worked laboriously to condense his ideas down to the lowest common denominator. When he wrote, “…quit thinking about decent land-use as solely an economic problem. Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and the beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise” he spoke in elemental and fundamental truths but yet, today, we are still wallowing in the muck of commerce and consumption, viewing everything and anything as a commodity to be harvested. When Leopold wrote critically of gadgeteers who are watering down the outdoor experience of Americans, we now, over sixty years later, have a powerful “industrial-recreation complex” that has not only furthered the gap between the man-land relationship but has effectively co-opted our public lands as a marketplace for their plethora of gadgets and contraptions. And making it exceedingly difficult to counteract this existing reality is the powerful grip that corporate America has on our institutions; politics, economics, religion, education, and even our wildlands.

    There is a thread continuity of environmentalists from Thoreau, to Muir, to Marshall, to Leopold, and beyond who have fought to envision a way for Americans to buy into a land ethic but it seems we are are lost or at least backsliding. It seems our western culture is so deeply ingrained in viewing the land in only economic terms but there is another culture in America that does have a diametrical way of viewing the plant and animal communities that we share the earth with and that is Native American beliefs. But they too are under assault and pressure by same forces that have mislead us, although they are fighting mightily to maintain their values.

    In the Ojibwe creation story;

    When Kitchi Manitou (Great Spirit) espoused Giizighoquay (Sky Woman) in the skies a great flood had engulfed the earth. The surviving animals and birds took pity on Sky Woman and offered the great turtles (mikinaak) back as dry ground for her to rest and give birth. After settling in on the great turtles back, she asked for some creature to retrieve a small amount of soil from the depths. Only was the lowly muskrat (wazhashk) able to dive deep enough and retrieve a paw full of soil. Sky Woman then took this offering and spread a thin line of soil around the circumference of the turtles back and breathed into the soil the breath of life, diversity, growth, and abundance and infused into the new earth the attributes of womanhood and motherhood. It was after doing this that she gave birth to twins whose descendants took the name, Anishinaabe. The Turtle Island on which the creatures of the earth had rescued Sky Woman began to grow into a great continent which became North America. In the evolution of Turtle Island, Kitchi-Manitou and Sky Woman gave ownership and stewardship of the land to the original inhabitants in joint tenancy with all the other life forms that they share with Mother-Earth. [“The Manitous,” Basil Johnston, intro., & chapter 1]

    I have have had Ojibwe Elders tell me that respect of all the other life forms around us, is vital as humans are the weakest and sorriest of all creatures and that the other animals took pity on us and if not for their intervention on our behalf as giving of themselves as food and clothing, we would not survive.

    In predominant white creation story, it’s mainly all about us not other life forms – man has dominion over all other life. In all Indian creation stories, they are not filled with humanoids but with four-legged animals, birds, fish,and plant life.

    An Ojibwe elder and healer from Ponemah in Red Lake lectured me on the Seven Ojibwe Virtues; love, courage, humility, wisdom, knowledge, respect, and truth. Each virtue has an animal representative or envoy, for example, the eagle, or migizi, represents love, the buffalo or bizhiki is respect, and so on. Each animal finds his way as representative of each virtue through a creation story or other symbolic episode in its natural history. The wolf, or ma’iingan, is the envoy of humility as he holds his humbly head down and feeds his offspring before he or she eats. The wolf is highly respected in Ojibwe culture and is viewed as a good and powerful spirit. In fact, in September, 2010, the Red Lake Reservation officially designated their land as a wolf sanctuary.

    The following is a passage from the press release issued by the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe:

    “The management plan incorporates options that will help ensure long-term survival
    of wolves on Red Lake lands and that will protect them from adverse effects that
    could lead to population declines. The wolf represents a “minor” Clan of the Red
    Lake Band of Chippewa and the importance of wolves in Chippewa culture is
    highlighted in legends and oral history. Tribal Spiritual leaders and elders speak
    of the parallel fates of wolves and native people. Many believe that if wolves
    prosper, the people of Red Lake will prosper, and if wolf populations suffer, so will
    the Red Lake Nation. Thus, management of wolves on Red Lake lands shall be
    driven by the great respect that the Red Lake Band of Chippewa have for this
    important tribal resource. Red Lake lands shall remain a sanctuary for wolves,
    with management scenarios designed to promote and preserve them.”

    The wolf has always been held in respect and awe as a powerful and good spirit by all Indian Nations. I recently served as a support person for a healing run from Cass Lake on the Leech Lake Reservation to the Red Lake Reservation, north of Bemidji, MN. I knew I would not be able to leave my dog alone at home for the18 hours I would be needed for the long day ahead. I asked my Ojibwe friend and race organizer if it would not be appropriate to bring my dog along. His reply was, “Of course not. Bring the dog along as the dog is a relative of the wolf, a good spirit!”

    Amongst Native American peoples, success in hunting goes deeper that singularly possessing good hunting skills. It has to do with respect between the hunter and the hunted. It is this difference that separates the skilled hunter coming home empty and the respectful hunter coming home with meat. Showing respect, humility and offering to the killed is the difference. Many successful hunters believe that the animal comes to them. The key notion here is the spirit of the wild animal.

    As among most Indian people, the Koyukon’s of Alaska, see the wolf as “the master predator among the animals of the north, possessing intelligence and strength, keen senses, and above all the ability to hunt cooperatively. Like the humans that they watch from afar, wolves multiply their muscle and mind by cooperating in pursuit of prey, then share the spoils. Indeed, for the Koyukon, the similarity between wolves and humans is no coincidence – in the Distant Time, a wolf-person lived among people and hunted with them. When they parted ways, they agreed that wolves would sometimes make kills for people or drive game to them, as a repayment for favors given when wolves were still human.” [Make Prayers to the Raven,” Richard K. Nelson, p.159]

    In the spirit world of many indigenous peoples, not all spirits are possessed with equal power. The more powerful spirits are strong enough to take away luck in hunting or trapping or even cause illness or death. The most spiritually powerful are the predators and in the Koyukon world, the wolverine, bear, lynx, and the wolf are the supreme spirits in the animal world. To the Koyukon people; “They are the predators. Elsewhere on the continent the most elegant and powerful of them have disappeared, victims of habitat loss and competition with a human society that refused to tolerate them. Only in the northlands has the full community of these animals survived into the twentieth century, among people who are content to share the world with them rather than hunt them to extinction. In part this is because the people, whose lives emerged from the forest, recognize not only strength but also power. In the natural world of the Koyukon, predators include some of the most watchful and demanding of spirits.” [“Make Prayers to the Raven,” Nelson, p.139]

    With Minnesota legislators and many sportsmen blaming the wolf for a supposed declining deer herd, the Koyukon people of Alaska,who have lived in harmony with their competing predators for eons, “…little fear that wolves will annihilate game stocks, perhaps because they have watched the moose population grow steadily despite constant predation. In fact, they often mention that before moose appeared in the country wolves were very scarce. Later, both of them increased together, and the wolves have remained common in the wildland ever since. So it is clear to the Koyukon that wolves are not exterminating the game.” [Nelson, p. 219] It also goes without note that the greatest deer population in MN history coincides with the expansion of wolves throughout the northern parts of the state.

    Mans attitude towards the wolf is symbolic of our attitude to everything else. Our relationship to the wolf is political and economic not one of the wolf being a partner in life on this planet. Unless this changes, our relationship to all things natural and free will be of exploitation rather than harmonious.

    The wolf in my backyard

    Maybe I have been alone in the woods for too long as I seem to becoming more spiritual in the way I view the natural world around me but in most of the face-to-face encounters I have had with wolves, they appear almost mystical. Several incidents that stand out, when we unexpectedly come upon each other, instead of fleeing, they will come towards me, say to within fifteen or twenty yards and stop and stare. It’s the stare and the eyes that are so penetrating. It is if they are looking right through you and your entire soul is laid bare before them. They see you for what you are and in their eyes is a spirit and a meaning we will never comprehend. It is in their demeanor and in that look in their eyes that the essence of wildness, and will and struggle to live, is so fundamentally embedded. Not everything in the natural world needs to be understood as it is good that there are still mysteries remaining to us in this world and the wolf is one of them. Henry Beston said in the Outermost House, “We need another and wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they moved finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

    An individual will have those personal epiphanies in life that have a dramatic impact on your life. One of those epiphanies happened to me about fifteen tears ago when my wife and I were the owner/operators of a small Ma & Pa motel in Cass County. While we were cleaning rooms, we had the TV’s on. It was a Saturday morning and while we were making beds, the Discovery Channel was airing a program about wolves. I was only paying half attention as I had seen so many similar programs about wolves but a segment appeared that rocked me to the core. This segment appeared to be perhaps an old 8 mm movie film taken in what could have been northern Minnesota but was more likely across the border in Ontario. The film appeared to have been taken in the early fifties. In it, a poisoned carcass of a deer or some other big game animal had been laced with poison. All around the carcass were dead wolves. A tractor towing a wagon with three or four men were piling the dead wolves on the wagon, as though the wolves were nothing more than cord wood, they were probably to collect a bounty for the wolves. What affected me was when one of the men hoisted what appeared to be a large male wolf up over his shoulders, the wolf draped around his neck, I then could see that the wolf was not dead, albeit paralyzed, he raised his head and appear conscious of what was happening. It then dawned on me the gravity of what these men were doing, was not just a sin but a sin on a cosmic scale. If there is a greater power in this universe, he would most certainly look upon this with as a sin of the highest magnitude .

    The ups and downs of dynamic equilibrium

    The deer herd dropped precipitously after the severe winters of 1995-96 and 1996-97. Both winters saw over ninety inches of snow and the winter of 95-96 saw all-time record breaking temperatures of any winter in Minnesota history and the single coldest day in the states history; 61 below in Embarrass and 60 below in Tower on February 2nd. Elsewhere in northern Minnesota it was in the minus fifties on this date. There were over twenty mornings when the low temp was forty below or colder. The wolves prospered during these winters – hunting was as good as it gets for a wolf – and the deer population dropped. I spent my free time snowshoeing and randomly came upon many wolf kills, particularly in the latter half of the winter. But within 3 or 4 years latter the deer herd rebounded amazingly. In fact, it was soon after the DNR was offering five antlerless bonus tags for hunters in most of N MN so that you take six deer; one buck and five does or fawns. This explosion in the deer herd was noted by the DNR to be the largest population of whitetails in MN of all time. It also coincided with the population peak of wolves in the state, a note of fact that wolf-haters have never been able to acknowledge or come to terms with. From the late 1990’s through 2007 we saw relatively mild winters with high numbers of deer and wolves and hunters continued to be offered five bonus tags. In the north central region the deer hunting season in 2007 saw the deer go into the winter in rather poor condition. The natural food crop was poor after several severe drought years in the northern regions and then three severe snow storms in April 2008 that amounted to approximately 50 inches of snow, depending on specific locale, which shattered the previous record total snow fall for the month of April by 20 inches. This was devastating to the deer herd. I was finding dead deer in the woods into June and these were not deer killed by predators but rather starvation. In my sixty years, I have never seen deer in such pathetic condition. It is not difficult to draw the conclusion that it is winter coupled with forage conditions that are the number one limiting factor of the deer herd. Wolves take a lot of deer but many of these deer would have succumbed to the elements.

    Over the years that I have been intimately connected to the scenes in the woods I have not only observed fluctuations in the deer herd but in other inhabitants including the wolf. When the wolves appeared to be most numerous there have been several outbreaks of mange in NC MN. One was after the severe winters of 95/96 and 96/97. Not only was this from my own sightings of wolves with hair loss but the observations of acquaintances who spend lots of time in the woods and trappers whom I know. Mange is appearing again, now, when the out cry from many hunters that there are too any wolves. There is no balance in nature like the scales of justice but rather non-corresponding swings by prey and predator.

    It is frustrating to listen to so many hunters blame the wolf for their failure to kill a deer, even when you know the deer are present in numbers that are probably not sustainable as far as the resource is concerned. People need a scape goat and the wolf is it for hunters as the cormorant is for walleye fishermen on Leech Lake. Thousands of cormorants have been shot on Leech Lake due to several down years of walleye fishing and five thousand or more have had their stomach contents analyzed and no more than 1% have been found to be walleye. This senseless slaughter has been going on while the science community acknowledges that cormorants have not achieved their population numbers prior to white settlement. What adds a note of irony is the common held belief among most hunters that what makes deer hunting so attractive is that the whitetail deer is so elusive and challenging a quarry. The great traditional archer, Fred Bear, said that the most difficult big game animal to bag in North America, and he has taken one of about every specie including the polar bear, is the whitetail deer. The irony of it is that this elusiveness and wariness of the whitetail is the result of millions of years of being chased and tested by the wolf. The deer we know today is in a sense a creation of Ma’iingan, the wolf. The wolf improves the strength and vitality of the deer herd. Aldo Leopold, perhaps said it best; “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. By land is meant all of the things on, over, or in the earth. Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism. Its parts, like our parts, compete with each other and co-operate with each other. The competitions are as much a part of the inner workings as the co-operations. You can regulate them—cautiously—but not abolish them.”

    I acknowledge that the Threatened and Endangered Species Act has worked with the wolf. It is a success story. When in the 1970’s there were only 700 wolfs in the state, the DNR now estimates that there are 3000. I also believe that a tightly regulated hunting and trapping season may work, using the most conservative bag limits but I am adamantly opposed to allowing wolves to be taken during the rifle deer season. The hysteria among deer hunters that wolves are their enemy is as high as I have ever witnessed. One Minneapolis sports writer recently wrote that although killing wolves may not ultimately affect the states deer numbers he did write concerning the DNR proposals for the wolf hunting/trapping season, “…these big dogs will respond by retreating into the shadows to conduct their killing less brazenly – A PR stunt intended if nothing else to assuage the state’s collective itchy trigger finger.” He further goes on to say about both Minnesota and Wisconsin wolf populations, “Wolves in both these hunting areas kill – and we don’t like it. Worse, we believe, they periodically move deer out of our hunting grounds, which likely has a greater adverse effect on our overall whitetail harvest than the number of animals they surround and chew to death.” [Star Tribune, Dennis Anderson, 1-12-12] He then goes on to rant about dog owners now being able to defend their dogs from these fiendish ghouls. After reading this column I seriously thought, could this be a Steven Colbert parody of wolf behavior? Would a wild wolf contemplate whether to kill “less brazenly”? And that wolves kill and “we don’t like it” and that wolfs drive deer out of their hunting grounds which has a greater impact on controlling the deer herd than the deer they “actually surround and chew to death.” Maybe many modern day hunters should travel to some big game farm, or “canned hunt” as some call them, and stay out of Minnesota’s wild lands. And the assertion he makes that the wolves are driving the deer out of his “hunting grounds” well wouldn’t they then be going into some one else s hunting grounds? I and my bow hunting partner both share in the belief that wolves can be a boon to the bow hunter. There are far fewer, if any other archers within a mile or more of us and deer will often hunker down in food plots, like a large oak woods during a mast crop of acorns. When this occurs, deer are exceedingly difficult to access. When wolves are in the area, they know where the deer are and will drive them out – move them around, making them apt to come our way. As far as the dog situation, sure, dogs are and will continue to be taken by wolves. I am sure that it is possible that a dog could be snatched out of its yard by a wolf but my experience concerning dog deaths attributed to wolves is almost always someone who lets their dogs run and run unattended, far from home. That is run up to over a mile or more from their home, in the woods, chasing deer or killing deer. Talking to local C.O.’s about dog /deer complaints, they tell me about how common it is, dogs running wild and harassing big game. In most of these instances, these dogs are neglected, miss-treated and have gone into the habit of chasing or killing deer. In most of these cases, the wolves did us a favor.

    Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) is opposed to the DNR proposal to allow hunting and trapping of wolves after the deer hunt is over and in January when the pelts are prime. Director Johnson states, “I think it’s totally unwise” he is to have stated that without the incidental killing of wolves, during the deer season, he expects wolf harvest to be very low. Johnson is quoted, “I’d be surprised if they take 100.” [Star Tribune, Almanac/Doug Smith/outdoors section, 1-8-12] I have heard some DNR wildlife staff state off the record that they believe that possibly as many as 200 or more wolves are probably shot illegally every year. I commonly have hunters remind me of the ‘three S’s’ – shoot, shovel, and shut-up. I also have heard more than once from hunters to “shoot a wolf in the gut – then he will run off and die somewhere else.” I believe that if we knew the actual number of wolves killed every year illegally we would be astonished.

    I am a hunter. I have been hunting deer and other big game for nearly fifty years but I realize that wolves would have been eliminated in the continental 48 states long ago if it had not been for a handful of conservationists. It is at such times that I feel ashamed to be a hunter. Hopefully the MN DNR will abide by the January season and conservative bag limits. But my fear is the state legislature where neither Democrat or Republican have demonstrated themselves to be no friend of the environment. Even Senator Amy Klobuchar uses wolf demagoguery by telling hunters and northerners that there are so many wolves that they pose a threat to humans, pets, livestock, and even local economies by depleting the deer herd. Presently, the MDHA, livestock association, and others have lobbyists to represent there constituents but the wolf has scant few to speak for it.

    The belief of the MN DNR that the wolf population should be controlled and reduced by almost half of the estimate 3000 wolves in the state to 1600 deserves more attention. The wolf it can be argued, does a very efficient job of controlling its own population. In L. David Mech’s book, “The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species” sites in chapter eleven of his book, “Factors Harmful to the Wolf,” many of the ailments, some just harmful, others fatal, including parasites such as flukes, tapeworms, roundworm, thorny headed hookworm, lice, fleas, ticks, mange mites, diseases associated with old age, rabies (seemingly not a cause in MN,) distemper, and natural occurring injuries. Since Mech’s book was published in 1970, other diseases have come upon our state that surely affect the wolf such as the tick born diseases; lymes, anaplasmosis, and babesosis, that can also be fatal to people and dogs. Heart worm is another disease that probably is found in wolves. Mech also points to studies in chapter eleven that social stress within the wolf pack will cause females to forgo estrus. Mech sites that “Although no definite conclusions can yet be drawn about the role of social stress in populations of wild wolves, there is increasing speculation that some intrinsic factor could be one of the main regulators of wolf numbers (Mech, 1966a; Pimlott, 1967b). V.C. Wynne-Edwards (1962) has even suggested that the populations of most, if not all, animals are regulated basically through social stress.” [The Wolf, Mech, p.319] Social stress in wolf packs is complicated. It is not simply brought about by lack of prey but also abundant prey populations resulting in greater wolf numbers which in turn causes more conflict and stress among the members of the pack. One study sited by Mech in chapter eleven is when prey numbers are high, then wolves pack size increases causing stress within the larger packs which results in subordinate members dropping out and seeking other lone animals to mate which results in more packs within a given area and more pressure on the prey base causing more stress within the wolf population resulting in animals not breeding. When fighting occurs, within a pack or between opposing packs, it is the smaller wolves or females that are more apt to be killed. I just heard a report on public radio from Isle Royale that such a thing is occurring there and of the 16 wolves remaining on the isolated island, only 2 are females. If they lose these two females, the pack is doomed to extinction. It’s all very complicated involving scent posts, howling and other factors that wolves use to interact and communicate but the bottom line is that wolves, through their complicated pack social structure do not need outside interference in controlling their numbers – science indicates that they do a good job of it themselves.

    It’s a bad time to be an environmentalist. Even the name seems to be used in the same manner “communist” was used in the sixties for red-baiting. How many times have you heard some red-neck or politician warn about the “environmentalists?” as though we are the bogey-man. It certainly seems like we are in the Dark Ages for the environment. But maybe this is when we most need to stand tall? I get depressed all the time. I am a problem for my wife. I get crabby and am often overwhelmed with a feeling of hopelessness. I see so much crap going on all over and it seems no one gives a shit! I see ATV’s tearing up beautiful space in the forests, hard rock sulfide mining looming on the threshold of the BWCA wilderness, fracing for natural gas, continuing efforts to drill in ANWR, and on and on. But when I step outside at midnight and hear that long, low, deep chesty bawl of a wolf – I sense that here, right now, all is well with the world as the wolf still lives or is still in my heart. It is then that I feel there is something left worth fighting for. I don’t think anyone expressed how I feel better right now than Rick Bass did in the last seven paragraphs in his book, “The Nine Mile Wolves.”

    “I’m in a Fairbanks, Alaska. It’s January – the winter sadness that goes with the landscape and that season is starting to set in – and at our table there are some hunters and non-hunters, some animal-rights people, and just plain environmentalists. There’s that long, late night, winter depressed aura hovering, which, coupled with the general rage environmentalists find themselves rousing to whenever they’re together and talking, their life’s battles becoming a common ground for discussion, results in laments, traded stories of atrocity. Breast-beating. None of it is making anyone feel better, but it all has to be said.

    A friend who races sled dogs is sinking into the winter, trying to claw her way back out of the winter’s pull with her rage alone. She’s talking about a lounge lizard she heard bragging in this very bar – some dentist from Anchorage, talking to his friend from Seattle about the “sport” of aerial hunting – chasing wolves across the tundra and through the willows in a small plane and shooting at them from the plane, or sometimes running the wolves to near exhaustion and then getting out and throwing on the snowshoes and hobbling, fatly, the last hundred yards to where the wolves are backed up against a small bluff, panting, and shooting them in that manner – shooting all of them…

    But this dentist, with his gold tinged fingers and his fat friend from Seattle, were talking about a flight where they never landed the plane.

    According to their brags, my friend said, they’d just cruised along behind the wolves, with full flaps down and the throttle cut way back, aiming into a heavy wind, riding right on the pack’s back – just a few feet above it, following it, and gaining on it, and sinking lower and lower, as Fatty leaned and labored out the window to get his gun in position.

    My friend says the dentist was speaking with dumb awe, as he bragged: That was the hopelessness, the utter life’s despair hopelessness of it, that the dentist had been right there, so close, and yet had not been able to grip life’s simple mystery, that what he was doing was wrong, that he was breaking up a social bond, that he was signing wolves’ death warrant, humans’ souls’ death warrant, the death warrant of the earth, of our respect for our place on it, and for respect in all forms and fashions…

    But the dentist was so close to understanding, was the thing, my friend said. He had almost seen it, she said: just by the way he was talking, the awe in his voice, and his eyes – he had almost seen it.

    ‘I was right there,’ the dentist was saying, speaking as if in a trance. ‘I tell you, Joe, it was like nothing I’ve ever seen or done – Joe, for a few seconds there, we were right in with them, following right behind them – the big leader looked back, and for a minute, Joe, following along behind them like that, it was like we were one of the pack…” [“The Ninemile Wolves,” Rick Bass, pp. 160-61]

    This isn’t much I can leave you with or inspire you with but at least the lady dog-sledder offers a faint flicker of hope than the human soul can recognize is moving towards the salvation of a land ethic.

    “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: ‘What good is it?’ If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” Aldo Leopold “Round River”

    Barry W. Babcock
    February 8th, 2012
    Northern Hubbard County


    • So?! Why did you pot this here? You are a hunter and hunting is wrong no matter how you look at it! A sport?! No way! If you like sports, start running or skiing or swimming, not killing innocent animals. Bow hunting is animal torture and inflicts a slow and painful death and should not be allowed.

      Your rambling does not belong on this blog.


  7. Hello! I am Eduardo Rodrigues, from Brazil! It’s Amazing Incrible!


    • What is incredible if you can explain?! This blog in general, or the above lengthy babbling?!


  8. Astrid, with respect i think you need to read the article slowly and thoroughly. I am not a hunter. i live in England…we have no wild wolves….my ancestors killed them all years ago. I myself am a member of a wolf sanctuary and support the cause as you do. Mr Babcock, who wrote the article seems to me to be the most compassionate of men when it comes to wolves, he understands much, and yes he hunts deer, but his experiences through that seem quite astounding, as do his conclusions. His, ‘babbling’ as you say contains much intricate detail….thats because its an intricate detailed problem. I would suggest men like this, despite some differences, are needed on the side of the wolf. We are dealing with a lot of hardened men, whose ancestry goes back to when we did all indeed hunt animals, this guy is erring on the side of the angels from what I can see. I would say, embrace him, don’t turn him away.
    Just my respectful opinion.


    • I am truly sorry about this! By the time I skimmed through the whole article, I forgot who posted it and I only saw the author at the end. I wrongly assumed that the whole posting belonged to this Mr. Babcock. I still think that it is high time we did something concrete and moved beyond philosophizing and playing with words and abstract thoughts. They are not helping the wolves.


  9. I understand your frustration….when faced with overwhelming power, its hard to not want to lash out against ….well, something, anything. Maybe,

    Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience espouses the need to prioritize one’s conscience over the dictates of laws. It criticizes American social institutions and policies, most prominently slavery and the Mexican-American War.

    Thoreau begins his essay by arguing that government rarely proves itself useful and that it derives its power from the majority because they are the strongest group, not because they hold the most legitimate viewpoint. He contends that people’s first obligation is to do what they believe is right and not to follow the law dictated by the majority. When a government is unjust, people should refuse to follow the law and distance themselves from the government in general. A person is not obligated to devote his life to eliminating evils from the world, but he is obligated not to participate in such evils. This includes not being a member of an unjust institution (like the government). Thoreau further argues that the United States fits his criteria for an unjust government, given its support of slavery and its practice of aggressive war.

    Thoreau doubts the effectiveness of reform within the government, and he argues that voting and petitioning for change achieves little. He presents his own experiences as a model for how to relate to an unjust government: In protest of slavery, Thoreau refused to pay taxes and spent a night in jail. But, more generally, he ideologically dissociated himself from the government, “washing his hands” of it and refusing to participate in his institutions. According to Thoreau, this form of protest was preferable to advocating for reform from within government; he asserts that one cannot see government for what it is when one is working within it.


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