“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be — the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer — which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of our self.” — author Farley Mowat
The rider removing wolves from the endangered species list is the first time that a species has been removed by Congress, and not by science. Wolves survive in only 5 percent of their former range in a patchwork of wolf management plans that the Center for Biological Diversity calls appallingly inadequate. The center is challenging the delisting, calling for a comprehensive 48-state plan for real wolf recovery and genetic diversity.
The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and Department of Natural Resources have lobbied U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar relentlessly to delist the wolf for yet another trophy in their shooting gallery. The WWF collected 36,739 signatures to delist. They want to murder 450 of 800 wolves, leaving 350 in the state.
Talking points in wolves’ defense are their essential role in strengthening the genetics of prey species. Natural predators in natural numbers protect and balance the web of life. There is also an unresolved question of genetic differences, which may signify two species of wolves in Wisconsin.
Wolves, like bears, are wide-roaming and difficult to track or count. Quotas for public wolf and bear hunts are arbitrary and ignore predator essential roles in maintaining healthy ecosystems and their strong family ties. The result of replacing wolves with hunters is deteriorating forests and watersheds. It is causing biological impoverishment and diseases like chronic wasting disease spreading through wildlife populations.
Joel Trick at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that a low estimate of wolves being killed illegally in Wisconsin is 100 per year.
Recently I watched a documentary about wolves adapting to early man as they evolved into dogs. The wolf’s alliance with man was the reason humans survived in northern landscapes like Alaska that could not have been colonized without them. Anyone who has loved a dog owes the wolf.
Wolves need you now. The decision about delisting our wolves has an open comment period only through Monday, Sept. 26. If comments are evaluated for scientific reasoning, not the number of people just wanting to kill wolves, they will not be delisted. The government has a website where you can scroll down to submit a comment.
In 1893, trapper Ernest Thompson Seton set out for New Mexico to destroy Lobo, a legendary leader of a pack of cattle-killing wolves. In Seton’s pursuit of Lobo, buried traps were sprung and the wolf gathered poisoned baits and defecated on the insult. Weeks turned into humiliating months, leaving the trapper frustrated. Finally Seton discovered that Lobo had a mate. He killed her and laid out her body surrounded by traps. Hearing Lobo’s howl that night, Seton later wrote, “There was an unmistakable note of sorrow in his voice. It was sadder than I could possibly have imagined.”
The next day Seton found Lobo, near his dead mate, with one of his massive traps on each of the wolf’s legs. Instead of the “vermin” he had hunted, he found a dignified, courageous and grieving creature he had learned to respect. Seton would not kill him, but Lobo died of his wounds that night. The experience changed Seton forever. His book “Wild Animals I Have Known” starts with Lobo’s story. It was the first time the wolf had been portrayed realistically with such knowing respect. Seton championed the wolf until his death in 1946. Their story is told in “The Wolf That Changed America.”
The DNR’s Wolf Depredation 2011 statistics claim confirmed wolf kills of 32 cows or calves, two chickens, and one ewe. That is a minute percentage of the 3.45 million cattle in Wisconsin. Humans eat millions of cattle by choice, and wolves cannot kill 32 for survival?
The DNR attributes 16 dogs killed and three injured to wolves this year. It is more profitable to claim a wolf killed your dog so you get $2,400 from the endangered species fund than to report a bear defended her cubs and collect zero. It gives another false pretense for killing wolves.
Like coyotes, wolves have a hierarchy to their packs. Only the alpha wolf and his mate breed unless they are killed, in which case the entire pack breeds for survival. Hunting wolves is not about population control. It is blood lust.
“Ever since Lobo,” Seton wrote, “my sincerest wish has been to impress upon people that each of our native wild creatures is in itself a precious heritage that we have no right to destroy or put beyond the reach of our children.”
Please sign a petition to stop the slaughter of black bears in Wisconsin.
Oct. 2 column: Humans: stewards or terrorists?
Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. email@example.com