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Louisa Willcox’s Blog

Wolves in the Crossfire, Again

Louisa Willcox

Posted June 5, 2009

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 On Monday, June 1st, the Billings Gazette published a piece I wrote on the problems of prematurely removing endangered species protections from Northern Rockies gray wolves.  I shouldn't have been surprised at the number of comments (28 total) posted in response, but I was, I admit, taken aback at the hateful, even threatening, nature of many of them.  Here are some of the choicest:

James June 1, 2009 7:46AM MT

Louisa, you have the mistaken impression we want a wolf recovery program, we will continue to shoot these varmints at every opportunity and we don't care what you think about it.

River Rat June 1, 2009 9:14AM MT

Tough. Let 'em die off if there aren't enough. We already have too many...

DamSkippy June 1, 2009 2:09PM MT

SSS, Shoot, Shovel, and Shutup. This is the farmers and ranchers plans for control if government fails to do it for them. Trust me, Montana is vast and game wardens are few and they do not patrol private property. A rancher seeing a wolf crossing his property will not hesitate for a second to administer an anesthetic in the form of a 30-06 pill. Just something for you foam at the mouth enviro's to chew on.

Dave Skinner June 1, 2009 3:07PM MT

...As for concrete actions, the best would be to implement shoot on sight. Trust me, the survivors would be healthy.

River Rat June 1, 2009 4:05PM MT

After reading these posts, I want to take a minute to thank Defenders of Wildlife for making me proud of America again! All the SS&Sers are coming out of the woodwork! It's the Boston Tea Party all over again! The Founding Fathers would be proud to know we're tellin' the gummint to put it "where the monkey put the peanut." God bless America!

 So here we go again-these irrational, even pathological, eruptions about wolves are as far removed from a civil discourse as you can get.  It would be easy to dismiss the rantings of a few vocal ruffians who advocate for nothing short of the elimination of wolves from the landscape altogether.  But in this case, these angry people are organized, armed and hell-bent on expressing their misplaced anger with bullets. 

 Last year, some of them stalked wolves on the elk feedgrounds in Wyoming and gunned down, among others, the famous Druid wolf Limpy.  And, in Idaho, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's annual wolf report, 100 wolves were killed illegally.  Those are the ones the government knew about.  But given the nature of the "shoot, shovel and shut up" culture, how many wolves were really killed?  The number could be far greater, potentially explaining in part why, last year, the wolf population grew at the slowest rate in the history of Northern Rockies wolf recovery.  (Another reason could be that disease wiped out a number of the pups.)

 Adding fuel to the fire is a recently passed law allowing people to carry guns in national parks.  This law was attached to the credit relief bill, by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).  It could result in more poaching of wolves, grizzly bears and other wildlife in a huge landscape (Yellowstone, for example, is 2.1 million acres), and where law enforcement in the backcountry is sparse.

 There is still enough deep-seated hatred of wolves (and the federal government and conservationists) among well-armed people to make this a truly dangerous situation.  In a democracy, laws matter, and, in this case, they are necessary to protect wolves against excessive killing.  That's why we are back in court challenging the delisting decision. 

 In the West, the "shoot, shovel and shut up" mentality is never far away.  Veiled or direct threats of violence permeate the policy processes.  Go to some of the state game commission meetings or hearings on the proposed hunts, and you can feel the daggers in some of the bullies' eyes.  It can be downright intimidating.  It is also the antithesis of a fair and democratic process.  Wolf management continues to reflect the tyranny of a well-armed minority that reflect the values of yesteryear.

 What we have in the West with wolves today is mounting frustration on all sides, exacerbated by the anonymity provided by the Internet, which is further inflaming the debate.  Another contributing factor to this growing frustration over wolves is the complete failure of the government to provide for a constructive dialogue among diverse parties in the hopes of resolving conflicts.  Instead, key government officials fan the flames with wisecracks in the press

 Government leadership is sorely needed to bring all parties to the table in some new creative ways to help us honestly discuss our differences, and explore new solutions based on areas of common interest. For this to work, curse words and disrespectful behavior need to be left at the door.

 Until then, we will be in court, and wolves will be in the crossfire, again.

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ArtJun 5 2009 10:31 PM

Yank their grazing permits. They've been on the federal dole long enough. No one will even notice their gone. Probably more cattle raised in a few Florida counties than in all three of those states together.

KarlyJun 5 2009 10:37 PM

You people are all sick individuals. The fact that you people are willing to let a majestic animal like the wolf that is so close to peoples hearts is absolutely unacceptable and will be put to an end. These animals need help from people like you. People who don't care about the welfare of animals that simply want to live there lives like they are supposed to. None of you have even the slightest right to kill them off. It disgusts me that people could actually write such repulsive, sick things and it truly makes me so mad I can't even contain myself. I have no idea what this world is coming to and I don't want to know.


Charles A. BayneJun 10 2009 12:32 PM

Dear Louisa. I for one, am the opposite of these "sss"'ers. I think they are terrible, and I feel that God will punish them, like murderers and terrorists, which they are. God bless you for your work in protecting wolves as best you can. To me, wolves are the most important animal in nature, keeping everything in balance. As I understand it, if a wolf kills a sheep, the Gov. compensates that owner, right? Killing a wolf is like shooting the family dog. And doing it from a plane is just downright savage and shameful. It makes me ashamed of some fellow Americans.

Charles Bayne

Ken Fischman, Ph.D.Jun 10 2009 09:43 PM

Dear Louisa: It is true that these wolf haters are pathological. They project their own infantilism and frustrations onto the wolves. As you rightly surmised,they are bullies & the only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to them. As for Mr. Bangs, he is beginning to wear on us all. The other day he was quoted as saying that wolves will produce 1,000 pups this this year,so why get all worried about the anticipated hunting season. I consider his remark as worse than unscientific. It is downright misleading. The majority of pups will die within the year of their birth.

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