- By Jerry O'Brien
- May 03 2011
- Volume/Issue: 2/33
The Earthling Chronicles: Crying Wolf
The U.S. Congress removed for the first time an animal from the endangered species list, the grey wolf.
The grey wolf was placed on the endangered species list in 1974 after being almost completely decimated by hunting and environmental programs. Hunters will now be able to apply for licenses to shoot wolves, except in northern Wyoming, where the species is still protected.
After being reduced to about 300 wolves in 1973, the grey wolf population in the lower 48 now stands at roughly 5,500, and the population grew eight percent last year.
Groups like Defenders of Wildlife decried the removal, calling it “potentially disastrous” and saying they plan to fight the decision in court.
Well that’s the story, short and simple. The grey wolf made a comeback since it’s placement on the endangered species list. There are absolutely no issues with that decision right? I beg to differ. There was more to the removal of the grey wolf than a glorious comeback; the grey wolf became a victim of lobbying and bad politics.
On April 26, President Barack Obama stepped into a bloody fight between two American populations with clout in Washington and a loud voice in the news media – wolves and elk.
In a budget bill signed by Obama is a provision to remove grey wolves in a wide swath of the American West from the U.S. endangered species list.
The move, sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators from rural western states and one of several policy measures grafted on to the budget, will eventually allow affected states to manage the size of wolf packs and, hunters say, help restore elk herds they say have been ravaged by hungry wolves.
But wildlife conservation groups fear it could set a precedent for political interference in a process that has previously been left to biologists.
Hunters’ groups and state wildlife officials say the wolves have wrought havoc on herds of elk and other wildlife and killed livestock and even pets.
They say wolf populations have met target recovery goals and states need more flexibility to manage the packs through controlled hunts.
“Unmanaged wolves have destroyed jobs, rural economies and the opportunity for people to put food on their plate,” said Don Peay, founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, a group of conservation-minded hunters.
There is a problem in the minds of the human population. Like children, we refuse to take responsibility for actions. When something goes wrong, we point fingers but never at ourselves.
When it comes to tertiary predators such as wolves, cougars and bears — and I don’t know if it’s fear or we just have entitlement issues — we kill them their worlds cross with ours. We argue that they eat our cattle. pets and destroy our property. There have been cases where these animals have even attacked people, and we call them problem animals and do away with them.
Problem animals? Are they really the problem? Why can’t we admit that our constant expansion is forcing them to cross into our world. We are notorious for completely decimating entire ecosystems and depleting the resources for these animals to use.
As a result of our “all-about-me” attitude and apathy, these creatures are forced to live in our cities, around our farms and hunt in our backyards. They have nowhere else to go.
What really angers me is one of the reasons for making this move. Hunters were complaining that elk populations were being completely ravaged by the wolves as if they had no hand in it all. They argue that they need to put food on the table, but I’m certain that elk isn’t the only thing these hunters can eat.
On the other hand, wolves have no choice. They don’t have farms, grocery stores, restaurants, no other way of obtaining food. Yes, they may hunt livestock, but can we really blame them? We hunted them to near extinction, and we continually hunt their food source. The culprit for this crisis is ignorance.
The world naturally balances itself out, but we never fail to interfere with that balancing method. We tear apart the web of life and complain when we have to face the consequences.
Take the wolf for example. An average pack consist of about 12 members. That is a lot of mouthes to feed. Every living thing has instinctive need to survive and to ensure the survival of its kin. When we take away the wolf’s main food source – elk, we force them to seek out another that will fill the stomachs of every member in the pack.
They can hunt rabbit and squirrel, but that is not nearly enough. So what better food source than something locked in a fence or behind chicken wire.
We are persecuting an animal because it wants to survive, just as we do. But I remember learning at young age that history repeats itself. You see, when the early settlers arrived to the Americas, the wolf was seen as a sacred animal to the natives, but to the new arrivals, they were seen as spawn of the devil himself.
Wolves were hunted constantly, being blamed for death of livestock and even missing children. And today we are accusing them of over hunting and taking away from our lifestyle. So what do we in response? We give permission to hunt them.
After 1974, programs to restore the wolf population popped up everywhere across the U.S.. Population control was left int the hands of biologists, individuals who understood wolf behavior, reproduction, every aspect of wolf culture. But with a few strokes of a pen, that duty was given to politicians and hard-headed hunters.
Now the politicians say that population control will be done by controlled hunting, but mama didn’t raise no fool. That will soon turn into vigilantinism, every missing chicken, cat, dog, every dead cow will be blamed on wolves, and before you know, any trigger happy goon with a gun will go out and shoot wolves in the name of their property and way of life.
When will this gracious animal ever catch a break? Why can’t we live and let live? Why can’t we accept that we have a hand, usually a really big one, in every ecological disaster that has happened since we arrived.
With this move, we didn’t save any money or ensure the survival of the elk. This wasn’t some kind of achievement that we should celebrate; we just set a precedent. I believe form this point any animal that is being protected will soon meet the fate of the grey wolf. New irrational arguments will pull them off the list allowing them to be hunted without consequence. I know poaching happens around the world, but if we allow the people who are killing these animals to have the right to kill them, I fear there will be nothing left for us to marvel at.
We are heading down a road to our own demise, and the only way for us to stop and turn around is for us to accept that we are not separate from the animal kingdom, that we need every other living creature to ensure our survival.