Shot in the Back
Friday, January 16, 2009 | Author: eventer79

Press release of January 14th: in the few remaining hours of a presidency that seems like it will never end, the US Fish & Wildlife Service has again delisted the grey wolf (pictured right).

Details here: Natural Resources Defense Council News

IDIOT!!! (that is directed right at you, Secretary Kempthorne -- I'd use a stronger word, but you may not understand it, given that the rudiments of ecology escape you completely)

Even if you are completely backwards and hate wolves and blame them for everything from lack of profits in ranching to your burnt toast, this action is 100% illegal. Federal courts already ruled that the FIRST delisting, which resulted in over 100 dead wolves, was illegal. WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU STUPID ENOUGH TO THINK YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH IT A SECOND TIME???? It's nothing but a parting "screw you" to the citizens of this country (or at least any of them with half a brain or a quarter of a conscience).

Because grey wolves are listed under the Endangered Species act, in order to be legally delisted, the species must meet the goals listed in the Recovery Plan, a document put together at the time of listing which details how many populations and sometimes individuals there must be before the species' status can change. Here's a big surprise: those goals have not been met.

So why should you be pissed off that this is going on? For one, we need predators to keep our ecosystems healthy and that includes public lands that you have paid for. Ever since grey wolves have been reintroduced to Yellowstone, elk herds have been healthier and more controlled in numbers, which means there is less overgrazing by rampant elk, which means that native plant communities are rebounding, which means the bugs are happy, which means the birds are get the picture!! All of this is not possible without the top predator, the grey wolf. (And what the bloody hell is with the logic "hey, we reintroduced the animals and were so proud of it, but eh, we're tired of them now, let's go back and shoot 'em all." Dear god, people make my head hurt.)

We have precious few top predators left in the US and it is easy to see what fills the vacuum. White tailed deer taking over every nook and cranny they can fit into, so overpopulated that thousands starve to death every winter. Smaller predators like raccoons and possums multiplying like rabbits with nothing to keep them in check. Native plant communities and landscaping alike devoured to the nubs by deer and rabbits who also enjoy breeding like, well, rabbits! The cascade of effects is long and it is all a result of our own paranoia and fear when it comes to predators.

Wolves do not hunt down and attack people and children. They will go out of their way to stay as FAR from you as possible and have ZERO interest in interacting with civilization unless they are starving and desperate. There are somewhere around 20 recorded wolf attacks in modern history. Most of those were instigated by humans seeking out and harassing these secretive animals.

Wolves do not massacre huge amounts of livestock (or anything for that matter). The average wolfpack is successful at killing an elk 1 out of 15 times it tries. Confirmed wolf-livestock kills are so small in number that wolves don't even warrant their own category in reports -- most canine kills or harassment are a result of stray dogs. Often wolves do not even kill their own prey but will scavenge gut piles left by hunters or the kills of other predators, much like a coyote will.

Ok, I could probably go on about this for a very long time, but I will be no less outraged by the end of it. Some backwards western lobby has some senators and probably our beloved *insert dripping sarcasm here* Mr. Kempthorne in their pocket and is not only trying to push through illegal government activity, but is trying to destroy a part of our natural heritage as well.

Maybe you'll never see a wolf, maybe you'll never hear how magical a howl sounds after sunset. Maybe you'll never feel that thrill of knowing a truly wild thing is alive and fulfilling its crucial role in keeping the system in balance, is trotting across a snowy field in the dark living in a world of sounds and smells that we will never know. Maybe you feel like all of this is far away from you and you're not sure what value it all has.

But I can tell you this and you can know it to be true: everything in the world is part of a huge web, a system that is so complex, I don't believe we can ever completely understand it. You start pulling strands and species out of that web and soon enough, it's going to fall in around your head and what you find after the dust settles is not going to be any kind of place you want to live.

What is at the heart of what is happening in this situation? The government is trying to help a handful of small-minded, uninformed, misled, and backwards-thinking people exterminate a species. And if they have some success with one species, you can bet you will be kissing goodbye to a lot more after that. Which one will be the one that brings it all down? What kind of dark and damaged place will be left for your children to grow up in and for their children to live in?

I will close with the wisdom of a man who was one of the world's greatest naturalists and explorers, William Beebe, who said in 1906, over 100 years ago, as he saw already how human greed and selfishness mowed down the very world they depended on:

"The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again."
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On January 18, 2009 at 7:55 PM , lifeshighway said...

I would suppose the rampant increase of the coyote population is also an end result of the decreased population of grey wolves? Also do not get me started on deer and landscaping, or more accurately lack of landscaping in my neighborhood.

On January 19, 2009 at 1:09 PM , eventer79 said...

You are correct in that the absence of a top predator is a large contributor in burgeoning coyote numbers. When wolves and panthers were present, they took up not only space but food resources. Now that these apex predators are gone, all that space and food is opened up to any takers, a position coyotes are more than happy to fill with their gift for scavenging.