Taking a different position from almost all other public expressions on the matter, the Idaho Farm Bureau President wrote an op ed for the Idaho Mountain Express. Here, for the first time we learn more facts about the matter, including that they did have pepper spray.

In my view that fact makes their fear even less reasonable. Pepper spray would be far superior to a gun if you really were confronted with an wolf pack intent on eating you. It’s easy to miss with a gun, not so with spray, but, hey you can carry both! I do. The gun is for the real danger — generally two legged predators in the front country; spray for the backcountry.

Here is the Farm Bureau op ed in the Idaho Mountain Express.

These employees might not have been “greenhorns” to backcountry travel, but they didn’t know much about wolves. For example, the Farm Bureau opines, “However, as they were walking through thick buck brush they could hear wolves growling, snarling and howling.” If you have been around wolves, that is not a threat to you. Wolves communicate with each other. The wolves were most likely feeding on their kill — growling at each other. If you have been close enough to hear adult wolves at play or on a kill, there is lots of growling that would might make a person unfamiliar with wolves think they mean to kill each other.

Social psychologists have long studied ambiguous situations like this — incomplete knowledge in a new situation. In such situations social cues and personal dispositions are paramount in determining what people do. More training would, as the Forest Service said, help their employees make sense of what for them was a novel situation.

For all predictions that the wolves in the lower 48 are dangerous, I still haven’t seen any bite marks on someones’ butt, and frankly I’m surprised given all the stupid dog tricks people often do in the backcountry and tourists crowding wolves in Yellowstone, not to mention the incredible number of deer, deer hunters, and wolves in the Great Lakes.

Note that over a million people are bitten by dogs a year in the United States.

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

4 Responses to Evacuation from wolf habitat was warranted says Farm Bureau

  1. avatar Alan Gregory says:

    I’ve not seen any fax news releases from Farm Bureau (or any other group or organization, for that matter) expressing thoughts, anger or otherwise, over all those dog-bite cases.

  2. avatar mike says:

    Good grief, Ralph; enough is enough on this ridiculous story. There is absolutely no rational basis, other than a possible malicious attempt at a political stunt, for the behavior of these supposedly able-bodied and equipped personnel, “greenhorns” or not. Did they actually, honestly, sincerely, and truly believe that they were going to be attacked, en masse, by wolves in the wild? I don’t buy it for an instant; I can’t find any way to see it as anything but a stunt. Now, we’re reporting the reaction of the Farm Bureau? Who’s next to get free publicity from this escapade, the Ku Klux Klan? I bet they’re against wolf reintroduction too.

  3. avatar Highlander says:

    Its kinda odd that this story should get so much attention. Other parts of the country, like Minnesota, has many more wolves and a heck of lot more people than Idaho. If this story had any relation to the threat caused by wolves or other wildlife, then stories like this one would be a daily news bit on the Minnesota news. But the fact is that this story has been blown way out of proportion. And there are individuals and groups out there that will latch onto any piece of bad wolf press. The poor fellow who was (or was not) killed by wolves in Canada is now the poster child for the anti-wolf movement. There seems to be an anticipation where everyone is holding their breath to hear the next wolf incident. Even some of the pro-wolf folks start putting together a string of exceptions to every bad wolf press tidbit: “No healthy, free-ranging, wild, non-habituated wolf has ever killed a human in north America in the last 150 years” No wonder the pro-wolf sometimes sounds like they’re trying to make excuses for the behavior of a wild, unpredictable animal. It seems like most of this hub-bub is coming out of the western states. Like I said before, this would be just a blurb in the eastern papers. The fact may be that westerners just might have to find a way to get along with each other and their wolves.

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