Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wolf Hunting...and Ultrarunning

Gray Wolf, image credit Gary Kramer, US Fish and Wildlfe Service

Seems that some "hunters" in Idaho were all geared up for a "predator derby" to be held in January 2015, except that the Bureau of Land Management just pulled the permit for the hunt.

According to The Guardian (I went British to get a hopefully unbiased take on the issue),

The US Bureau of Land Management has pulled the permit for a hunting derby that targeted the Rocky Mountain gray wolf, among several other animals, after environmental groups sued the federal agency.
“BLM’s first-ever approval of a wolf-killing derby on public lands undermines wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies and was not in the public interest,” said Laird Lucas, director of litigation at Advocates for the West, one of the environmental groups suing. 
Up to 500 hunters could have participated in the hunting derby on federal land, scheduled to take place in January on three million acres of federally owned wilderness. Hunters could have taken a nearly unlimited number of wolves, skunks, weasels, starlings, raccoons, coyotes and jackrabbits. The derby would have taken place over three days annually, for the next five years. 
Gray wolves were previously listed as an endangered species. But the top-tier predators became a political hot potato in the west after some ranchers and hunters felt that environmental groups didn’t live up to their end of a bargain struck in the 1990s when the wolves were re-introduced. Since, the debate surrounding gray wolves has become increasingly polarized.
Two things strike me: first, on the admin side, that the BLM ever approved the notion in the first place.  Then they backpedaled and didn't rescind the approval because it's a dreadful and horrid idea; no, they cited some problem with the application paperwork.  Gutless.

But of course the second thing that strikes me is why on earth there are some "hunters" who even think that this is appropriate?  "Let's go see how many critters you can kill in a given period.  We'll even award prize money!"

On things environmental, you have only to check with Aldo Leopold to get some understanding.  In the ecologic masterpiece A Sand County Almanac, Leopold actually writes about killing a wolf in the early 1900s.  Him, personally.  

Here's a excerpt, as posted on the Eco-Action site:

My own conviction on this score dates from the day I saw a wolf die. We were eating lunch on a high rimrock, at the foot of which a turbulent river elbowed its way. We saw what we thought was a doe fording the torrent, her breast awash in white water. When she climbed the bank toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf. A half-dozen others, evidently grown pups, sprang from the willows and all joined in a welcoming melee of wagging tails and playful maulings. What was literally a pile of wolves writhed and tumbled in the center of an open flat at the foot of our rimrock.
In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy: how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide-rocks.
We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes - something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.
Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers.
Leopold came to realize the ecological error of wiping out the top predator.  But moreover, he realized the profound moral error of doing so, of killing something, well, just because you could.  

The link to Ultrarunning is pretty obvious: the chance to see a wolf in the backcountry.  But again, we have two levels: the higher level linkage is that you live and let live simply because you love life and on some level you just know in your heart of hearts that critters do too.

No comments:

Post a Comment