Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 60: Wolves and Rewilding!!

Did the Short Loop with Angel today. Both Joni and I have been nursing colds the last four to five days. Because of this, I've been taking it easy and not biking. When you have a cold, it is a message to take life more gently. Reduce stress. Sleep more. Rest.

Because of the cold, I've spent more time reading. I've read quite a few books over the last week. I finished a lengthy tome of the Rise and Fall of Communism. I finished a book I found in the library that has Jack London's travel pieces and sports reporting in it (quite good actually--especially his reporting of boxing matches). I've also caught up on our magazines.

Two articles caught my attention: A short blurb in Countryside and Small Stock Journal and the feature story of the new National Geographic. Both the stories are about wolves.

We are ambivalent about animals that can kill us. Especially large predators. Two success stories of the last twenty years have been the resurgence of the mountain lion in California and the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Both populations have done reasonably well.

In Yellowstone, the wolves have slipped out of the Park and are now colonizing Montana, Idaho, possibly Colorado and even Washington. Their numbers aren't great. But for some ranchers and hunters, even one wolf is one too many.

Bush delisted the Gray wolf from the endangered species list, paving the way for the actual hunting of wolves in Idaho. The season will continue until the quota is reached.

The Countryside piece is disgusting. The author, Aileen Scott, goes overboard to warn readers of the depraved nature of the wolf. She also calls the Gray Wolf a "menace to all livestock and ungulates". She goes on to write that "Every person who raises meat for the tables of America should have the right to kill any wolf that comes onto their property without question."


The National Geographic article is more balanced. The author lists the benefits of having a wolf population in Yellowstone and the surrounding States. And whereas predation of livestock has occurred (and along with predation the cattle have to move--leading to reduced body weight of the herd)--so far the wolf kill has been minimal.

Still, the author leaves the question of wolves in the west open. "When we say we want to conserve wildlife communities in America, does that mean including the wolf, or not?"

For me, both the California mountain lion resurgence and the fragile success of the wolf population are opportunities to get things right. Let the ranchers adapt to having wolves around. Bring back Shepherds! Reduce the hunting of elk and deer (Let the wolves have the prey!). Minnesota has embraced its wolf population; wolves are a matter of pride for the residents there (and predation hasn't been a problem). Perhaps the people of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Colorado can develop the same sort of pride?

Isn't this the first step of Recovery? Doesn't this give us hope that we can Rewild America?


lph said...


Last summer I was camped alone on the edge of the Superior National Forest, just outside the Boundary Waters. At about 10 pm a chorus of wolves began howling. It was mesmerizing. I sat wide-eyed and intoxicated. Truly one of the coolest experiences of my life. Then 10 minutes later they stopped, just as quickly as they started. But the impression they made on me has remained throughout these cold winter months.

Wolves, bears, mountain lions are symbolic of recovery. Healthy ecosystems need the animals at the top of the food chain as much as they need the elk and the trout.

I understand the fear of the rancher, but personally I see these larger animals as essential to finding our way back health. We must find a way to support their recovery and their continued existence.


Allan Stellar said...

Agreed, Larry...

When a bear had become a nuisance on this Ridge a couple of years ago, some neighbors took the matter into their own hands and shot it. Shoot, Shovel (in this case they ate him) and Shut Up.

The problem is (was) that our neighbors don't keep their garbage locked up. The bear just couldn't resist human garbage. So, rather than pick up their garbage and keep their property tidy---the neighbors shot the bear.

Animals, Nature and Wilderness will always lose out as long as our primary worldview is that Humans Come First. If enough folks start questioning that presupposition (and remember that Deep Ecology is only around forty years old) then we might stand a chance at creating a recovery of our very own Eden.

Tis my opinion,