The Abbot sent me a disgusting article about wolves, asking my opinion. This is what I wrote to him (and a few friends):
Okay...I read the article...
Actually, the guy quoted "Michael Robinson" of the Center for Biological Diversity is a friend of Joni's. They hung out in Boulder together. He had the Teepee next to hers.
Notice that the wolves allegedly killed the cattle on national forest land. These welfare cattlemen use the public lands at a very cheap lease rate from the state. Then when a cow dies, they raise holy hell. In Minnesota (where I'm from) wolves are respected and revered. We are proud of them. And there has virtually been no predation of livestock. Why? Because livestock are fenced and put into barns. They aren't roaming wild in public lands that should be a haven for wolves, deer, elk, etc.
Frankly, we don't need cattle and sheep on public lands. Only about 3 percent of our beef comes from such a welfare farmer cattle industry. It is more a tradition in the west than an economic necessity.
There are farmers in this area who are trying to live with the mountain lion. They use a breed of guard dog to deter the lion from taking their goats, sheep, cattle. It works.
Wolves have a right to live. My argument would be that National Forest land belongs first to the wild species, then the domesticated ones. If a wolf kills a cow on such land...too bad!
Wolves are good at regulating their numbers. Only the alpha pair in a pack breed. They control their hormones better than humans.
Ranchers in Idaho and Montana etc. go apoplectic over this issue. They spread terrible lies about wolf predations. They do the same for every wild predator. Frankly, I'm tired of them running their livestock on OUR PUBLIC LAND!
Time to bring back real livestock management. Use shepherds. Dogs. Let the wolves control their own population: they will do a better job of it than we horny humans....
Give the wolves a chance man! They've suffered enough from our sin!
Of course, this article doesn't get to the heart of the issue: What is the purpose of having wild public land?
And a followup e-mail:
Sorry about the sermon...
I just think it all comes back to (and I harp on this all the time) how we conceive humans to be within the realm of creation. Ecocentric versus Humanocentric. Christianity, and almost all religion, is mostly about our own species. Humans as the crown of creation. Everything is God's gift to humans. To the point that we deny souls to those that we don't value: it used to be women (as in the Muslim tradition). The idea that all species have a right to freedom to roam, procreate and live their lives in balance and happiness, even if they aren't human, goes counter to almost every dogma that religion has taught (with a few notable exceptions: St. Francis of Assisi being one).
We just blindly follow the faith of our fathers, no matter how destructive to the earth, large predators etc etc...
Will this change? I doubt it. There are some glimmers of hope out there. The 30 year Butte County plan actually acknowledges that our black tailed and mule deer population has migratory rights. This has been fought vehemently by my Concow neighbors. There is a movement to create a wild space in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming which has some support in Congress. The mountain lion initiative passed back in the 90's is another case in point. But how far will we go in re-wilding our lands?
And the radical enviros are developing their own variety of dark green religion, as exemplified by Bron Taylor's decent book of the same name. But it is time to move beyond "blessed are the poor" (because they know how to live simply and will inherit the Earth?) to "blessed are the poor and all wild creatures".
Questions around large predators (mountain lion, wolves, grizzlies) lazer the question into a sharp focus. Can we humans share? Doubtful.