Monday, May 23, 2022
49.0°F

In defense of the wolves (pt. 1)

by Frederick K. Bardelli – Osburn, Idaho
| April 18, 2022 3:41 PM

One of the most atrocious acts of cruelty ever instigated against wildlife, is being perpetrated by the governor and the Legislature of Idaho, in their desire to ruthlessly slaughter some 1,400 wolves, in a yearlong season of killing and torturing, by any means possible, including trapping with bait and strangling with snares (which also cruelly kill other animals, and both of which have been condemned for years by people of conscience); hunting with night-vision goggles, spotlights, and dogs; running wolves to exhaustion in the deep snow, with snowmobiles, and shooting them; shooting from helicopters and airplanes (how many have they wounded?); running wolves down with 4-wheelers and any other kind of vehicles, and shooting from them; and even mercilessly killing wolf pups 一 the whole world of technology is being unleashed to destroy these innocent animals.

Hunters and state officials falsely claim that wolves are causing elk populations to decline, when in fact there are more elk now in the Northern Rockies than there were before wolves were returned to their native habitats. Any decline that occurs can be attributed to hunters themselves and to the extraordinarily high numbers of elk killed by poachers. Severely cold winters, with deep snow, also cause the loss of numerous elk, along with disease and the climatic effects of global warming.

Wolves, of course, have killed elk and other animals, since time immemorial. They, too, have to eat, to keep from starving. (Many hunters selfishly complain, “They are taking meat off my table.”)

To scapegoat wolves for the questionable reduction of elk populations is disgraceful, unprincipled, and an iniquitous injustice 一 solely intended to reduce the population of wolves to critically low numbers, effecting their very survival as a species 一 in order to servilely satisfy hunters, trappers, ranchers, farmers, and logging interests. (And dogs kill many times more cattle, annually, than wolves, according to the National Wildlife Federation.)

This is the same kind of ruthless, greedy, mindless mentality that led to the extinction of wolves in Idaho in the first place, and their near extinction throughout the entire country, by the early 1900s 一 and nearly drove millions of buffalo to extinction in the last half of the 19th century.

The return of wolves to their native homelands in Idaho and Yellowstone National Park, in 1995, was one of the greatest wildlife conservation achievements of the 20th century 一 comparable to the preservation of the bald eagle, the California condor, and the grizzly bear (whose existence, also, is again being threatened by the state of Idaho), all of which were saved by the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

These wolves were brought to Idaho from British Columbia and Alberta, Canada (Yellowstone wolves came from Alberta), having interbred for eons of time with the wolves that were further south, in what would eventually be called Idaho.

Wolf hunters 一 which include federal contract hunters, hired by the state 一 trappers and all wolf-killer organizations; as well as Idaho state wildlife officials and politicians, are obviously ignorant of the important role these beautiful animals play, as keystone species, enriching and maintaining the ecosystems they inhabit, and benefiting their wildlife and biological diversity. (Wolves are the real managers of our forests and wildlands.)

And these types of people do not have the conscience and the knowledge to even understand, that the basic, fundamental desire of every living thing is its desire to live. In the words of the immortal Leonardo da Vinci, “Those who do not value all of life are not worthy of it themselves.”

We are living in the time of the greatest wildlife extinction rate the civilized world has ever known (at least 30 to 50 percent of all wildlife species, world wide, face extinction by the year 2050), primarily the result of the destruction of the world’s forests and wildlands 一 including those in America (where, “Right now, as many as one third of all American wildlife species are facing an increased risk of extinction!” according to the National Wildlife Federation) 一 and with them the habitats of millions of species of wildlife 一 and the effects of global warming. (Wolves are the representatives of America’s last wilderness lands, which once covered the entire country. If the howling of the wolves sadly ceases, a distinguishing and irreplaceable characteristic of wilderness will be gone forever; and soon it too will vanish 一 along with all its pristine beauty, wildlife, and the deep, sacred silence that exists nowhere else.)

Thirty years ago, wildlife biologists at the Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, informed the world of the tragic loss of 100 to 300 species of animals, plants, and insects every day 一 a loss that is much greater today (with the world tragically losing over 48 football fields of forest every minute; and an extinction rate that human activity has pushed up 1,000 to 10,000 times greater than what was previously known, according to the World Wildlife Fund 一 and the worsening effects of global warming). Paul Ehrlich and his wife, Anne, distinguished wildlife biologists, formerly associated with Stanford University, affirm that “Biological diversity 一 the plants, animals and microorganisms that are working parts of society’s life-support systems 一 is one of humanities most essential resources."

“Biodiversity represents the very foundation of human existence. Yet by our heedless actions we are eroding this biological capital at an alarming rate.”

Taking into consideration the grave consequences of this tragedy, alone, should be enough to cause the State of Idaho; its Fish and Game Commission; the Department of Fish and Game; the Wolf Depredation Control Board; and every conscientious citizen, to vehemently oppose any disgraceful endeavor to solve our political, social, environmental and wildlife problems by means of mass killing 一 which is contributing to the destruction of the vast, magnificent web of life, the inexorable laws of which inevitably control the functioning of all life; as Chief Seattle warns us with his timeless, prophetic words: “Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons and daughters of the Earth. We did not weave the web of life. We are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.”

Edward O. Wilson, biology professor emeritus at Harvard University, admonishes us that “The ongoing mass extinction of species, and with it the extinction of genes and ecosystems, ranks with pandemics, world war, and climate change as among the deadliest threats that humanity has imposed on itself.”

Henry David Thoreau’s momentous exhortation is more vital today than ever: “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

Though wolves have courageously survived extinction, while caring for their young, and have much to teach us about caring for our own families and one another, it is a disgrace that the anthropocentric politicians and wildlife managers of Idaho (and Montana, Wyoming, Washington and Oregon) 一 with their pride, arrogance and lack of moral integrity and humility 一 are incapable of even the slightest amount of caring, or empathy, or sympathy, or compassion, or mercy 一 and dishonorably exemplify our shameless, materialistic, hedonistic society: that is insatiable in its pursuit of depraved thrills and excitement, alienated from nature, totally devoid of all reverence for life, and any moral and ethical accountability for its behavior.