I recently attended the wolf hearings held by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission in Helena.

The commission is considering initiation of a trapping season, as well as eliminating quotas on the number of wolves that may be killed. The goal is to significantly reduce the state’s wolf population which currently numbers somewhere in the vicinity of 600 animals.

The commission will make a final decision on the matter by July.

At the hearing I felt like I was witnessing a modern day version of Harper Lee’s famous book To Kill a Mockingbird. In that novel the mockingbird is symbolic of innocence animals and by extension, innocence citizens destroyed by thoughtless and ignorant people.

In Lee’s novel the main character, lawyer Atticus Finch, is one of the few residents of the southern community of Maycomb committed to racial equality and fairness. He agrees to defend a black man (a mockingbird in human society) wrongly accused of raping a poor southern girl. For his efforts both Atticus and his children suffer abuse and ridicule from the community. Worse, in the end, Atticus is unable to overcome the racial prejudice of his community members and win acquittal for the black man who was convicted by public opinion rather than facts.

Even the otherwise descent people of that community were unable to put aside the cultural biases they had grown up with.

In a similar way I believe the wolf has become a symbolic scapegoat for many otherwise descent Montanans who, for whatever reason, cannot overcome the cultural biases against wolves.

I do not want to overstate this analogy.  Wolves can and do kill elk and deer as well as livestock. They can sometimes even depress elk and deer populations. Yet for many who testified at the commission hearings, it is clear that killing wolves symbolizes more than just a predator that may occasionally create conflicts with human goals. When one can’t lash out at the real and/or imaginary forces that are creating fear or anger, someone or something else is punished.  What was termed in my college animal behavior classes as “displaced” aggression.

In Montana there is displaced aggression being heaped upon the wolf. For some with the most extreme opinions in Montana, the wolf actually represents the distance federal government or worse a UN global plot to subjugate rural America that they fear is controlling their lives.  When they kill wolves, they are lashing out at these institutions they fear.

And like the mythical towns people in Maycomb Alabama whose racial prejudice and lynch mob mentally convicted the black man Tom Robinson of imagined crimes based on dubious evidence, the wolf has been convicted and sentenced in the court of public opinion—at least the portion of the public I observed at the hearings.

There is no other way to explain the depth of hatred and fear I witnessed.  Any rational examination of the evidence against the wolf would not justify the death penalty that I fear will be imposed by the Commission.

Over and over again I heard many of the same old inaccurate and often exaggerated justifications for wolf reductions.  Among them is the assertion that wolves are decimating the state’s elk and deer herds and destroying hunter opportunity.

Yet in 1992 when the state completed its elk management plan, and three years before wolves were reintroduced, there were an estimated 89,000 elk in Montana. By 2007 an article in Montana Outdoors proclaimed there may be as many as 150,000 elk in the state. And a recent communication I had with Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist put the current number at around 140,000 animals.

Even as I write this commentary, the headlines in today’s papers proclaimed “FWP: Surveys Show Big Game Populations Bouncing Back.”

Any reasonable person looking at those numbers would conclude that the presence of wolves is not a threat to hunting opportunities. Indeed, if I wanted to be as irrational as many of the hunters I heard at the hearing, I could suggest a correlation where the presence of wolves appears to increase elk numbers and hunting opportunities across a state.

Similarly, accusations that wolves are a threat to the state’s livestock industry are equally as dubious.  Last year according to the Montana Dept of Livestock, more than 140,000 cattle and sheep died from various causes including poisonous plants, disease, and other factors. Out of these 140,000 animals, wolves were responsible for less than a hundred deaths.

This is not to suggest that the loss of any livestock is not an economic blow to the individual rancher, but can anyone seriously argue that wolves are a universal threat to the livestock industry that justifies state-wide persecution?

And there are many positive benefits to the presence of a large wolf population that were rarely mentioned or acknowledged at the hearing.  For instance, temporary or even sustained decrease in elk numbers can lead to a reduction in browsing on riparian vegetation like willows and cottonwood along streams.  Healthy riparian areas create more food for beaver.  Beaver ponds improve water storage and stream flow, reducing floods—which may be a huge net economic benefit to society.

Healthy and functioning streams also equal more trout and other fish, improving fishing opportunities and of course the bottom line for businesses that depend on serving the fishing public.

Predation by wolves can also reduce the occurrence of diseases that are a potential threat to both livestock and wildlife. For instance, the spread of disease like chronic wasting disease and brucellosis can have economic consequences to the livestock industry as well as elk and deer hunting. Wolves by their presence tend to reduce disease across a herd by dispersing elk and deer as well as by preying on sick animals.

Collectively these positive economic benefits to society and even to the livestock industry may far outnumber any negative costs associated with wolf livestock losses. If we are going to manage wolves so they full fill their ecological function as top predators, one can’t kill the majority of wolves off and expect to maintain these positive ecological benefits.

Even more troubling to me is that Montanans seem to want to use brute force instead of their brains to deal with wolf conflicts. A great deal of recent science on the social ecology of wolves as well as the positive benefits of predators on ecosystems is largely ignored by current management policies.

There is a growing body research that suggests increased persecution of predators is likely to increase, not decrease, human conflicts.  Even if you lower the wolf population, you may actually increase the human conflicts.

Widespread and aggressive indiscriminate killing of wolves or any other predator may have unintended consequences.  Hunting and trapping tends to skew predator populations towards younger age classes; Younger animals are less skillful hunters. They are the very animals most likely to wander into the backyards of people’s homes or come into a ranch yard to nab a young calf or lamb. Due to their inexperience and lack of hunting skill, younger animals are more inclined to seek out livestock as prey.

In addition, a wolf population suffering from heavy mortality leads to break up of packs where breeding is usually limited to the dominant male and female. Fragmenting the population into many smaller packs can result in more breeding females and often results in a higher survival of pups. In a very short time the population rebounds, prompting endless calls for more persecution.

Predator control can even potentially lead to greater kill of elk and deer.  Smaller packs with many pups to feed are unable to guard their kills against other scavengers. When an adult kills an elk or deer, by the time it can carry meat back to the den and return, much of the carcass may be stripped of any remaining meat, leaving that animal no choice but to kill another elk or deer.  Smaller packs may in the end also produce more pups—and like teenagers everywhere—the greater food demands of growing pups may lead to the killing of more prey and/or livestock.

And since many wolves co-exist with livestock, the indiscriminate and random removal of wolves by hunting and trapping can actually create a void that may be filled by other wolves that may be more inclined to prey on livestock.

There are definitely conflicts that sometimes arise between wolves and people. However, the intelligent way to respond is through the surgical removal of individual animals or packs and adoption of non-lethal animal husbandry practices.

For instance, after California passed a state-wide ban on use of traps and poison to control predators, Marin County Commissioners voted to replace lethal measures with non-lethal methods.   The tax payer funds that previously went to lethal control were used instead to build fences, purchase guard dogs and lambing sheds. In the end there was a reduction in predator losses while at the same time, the county spent less funds than what it had previously spent on lethal predator control.  A similar effort in Montana’s own Blackfoot Valley where dead carcasses which serve as an attractant for predators are promptly removed has also lead to a reduction in livestock /predator conflicts.

Such changes in policies demonstrate what is possible when people use their brains instead of their guns.

In the novel to Kill a Mockingbird, the indiscriminate killing of mockingbirds represented the unnecessary and thoughtless destruction of animals and humans based on old biases. The sad truth is that in Montana we are still killing symbolic mockingbirds by our archaic and irrational attitudes towards predators like the wolf.

George Wuerthner is a hunter, former Montana hunting guide and ecologist living in Helena, Montana.

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About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

147 Responses to To Kill A Mockingbird

  1. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Today is a very exciting day for us at The Wildlife News because, as you can see, George Wuerthner has agreed to write articles for us. I can’t fully express how much I admire George and his writing and we hope you welcome him to The Wildlife News.

    • avatar CodyCoyote says:

      Offhandedly , seeing that George has become a columnist here at Wildlife News must confirm that the zombie webzine NewWest.net has sunk for good.

      So be it.

  2. avatar Mike says:

    Fantastic. A big thanks to Wildlife News and George! A huge boost for this site.

  3. avatar Nabeki says:

    I’m a huge fan of George Wuerthner. When he writes about wolves, I drop everything to read. He’ll be a great addition to The Wildlife News.

  4. avatar Leslie says:

    Thanks George and WN. I really enjoy all your articles and insights.

    For a long time now I have felt that this scapegoating of wolves, and the hatred and emotion that goes with it, is exactly the same vehement hatred and vitriol many whites directed towards American Indians in the 1800s.

    I am reading a great book called ‘On the Rez’ by Ian Frazier chronicling his friendship with a Sioux and his visits to Pine Ridge Reservation. I came across a line that echoed my sentiments on wolves and Indians, where Frazier was talking about how some people treat Indians decently, while some of their neighbors don’t. I quote below:

    “Some people in South Dakota hate Indians, unapologetically, and will tell you why; in their voices you can hear a particular American meanness that is centuries old.”

    That ‘American meanness’ now directs it’s attention in the West at wolves.

  5. avatar Steve Clevidence says:

    Mr Wuerthner’s comments on this meeting are right on target. I also attended the Montana FWP meeting and heard the same old rhetoric and nonfactual information being presented to the commission as if it was gospel. Mr Timm Kaminski, a wildlife and conservation biologist and principal of the Mountain Livestock Cooperative of Alberta Canada, along with 40 ranchers from that area devised methods that allows them to co-exist with the wolf. Mr Kaminski is an ranching/livestock adviser for Living with Wolves organization along with myself. One of the recommendations of Mr Kaminski and the Mountain Livestock Cooperative, is, as Mr Wuerthner states, not removing individual wolves or packs that co-exist along side livestock. Doing so, allows a not so “livestock friendly” pack to move into the void and may very well create chaos. Removing bone yards, rotating grazing of livestock, feeding late afternoons rather than early mornings, so cattle will stay bunched up and not be so prone to run when wolves are more active, Radio collaring wolves so ranchers can track the packs movements, thereby allowing a rancher to contact other ranchers whose land the pack may be moving onto and thereby giving those ranchers the opportunity to present more of a human presence around his livestock which deters wolves. These methods work, but the livestock producer has to want to do something other than just kill the predator.
    Thank you Mr Wuerthner for your insight and perception. I’m pleased and looked forward to reading future articles by you.

  6. avatar JZ says:

    Thank you George.

    Very well balanced and presented post, sorry I missed you in Moscow.

    I would fully agree with the displaced aggression, having witnessed it myself in the small towns I live in.

    I would also offer that many of these “lynch mob” types won’t likely follow through, although I am fearful of the conflicts you highlight. I believe in responsible and respectful management of all species although I would agree that there is definitely the potential for the displaced agression to cause conflict and unwanted population trends or effects.

    I would (respectfully) point out that the elk numbers in MT statewide may have increased, but it is the quality and distribution that continues to be the contentious issue (much like the “old growth issue”). More in some areas doesn’t necessarily offset the loss in others.

    Again, thanks for the fair and balanced post.

  7. avatar Dave says:

    Thanks for the post George, but unfortunately facts and rational discourse will get you nowhere in the face of this religious hatred and war against wolves. Keep fighting the good fight anyway!

  8. avatar Jerry Black says:

    Thanks George….as you know, I witnessed the same “displaced aggression” at that meeting.
    As if that wasn’t enough, I attended the first bison “scoping” meeting in Missoula last night. I’d consider the rhetoric I heard at this meeting equal to, or worse, than those at the wolf hearing……references, of course to Agenda 21, bison halting the XL Pipeline, bison halting coal production, suggestions that ALL wolves be killed before allowing bison expansion….I could go on.
    Very little rational discourse and overwhelming hate of any idea that challenges the established culture in this state.

  9. avatar LiddyARA says:

    Excellent article, thank you George Wuerthner.

  10. avatar sandra shrubb says:

    an exceedingly well balanced article. but how does one change ignorance and bigotry? i grew up with rifles and hunting rabbits. we hunted rabbits for food. i killed a kangaroo, my first and last. it was such a beautiful creature. why is it necessary to hunt now in america? why do you need to hunt elk and deer?? let alone wolves. dingoes in australia have suffered the same fate and now australia slaughters kangaroos by the thousands every year. and as is usual big voices make the most noise, and usually it is misguided and misinformed noise re dingoes and kangaroos, and wolves…..

    • avatar Savebears says:

      I hunt because it provides 95% of the food resources for my family, in the area I live, I know quite a number of families that depend on their hunting to feed their families.

  11. avatar Roger Hewitt says:

    Managing wolves by hunting and trapping is asinine, cruel, barbaric and unnecessary and poor management strategy. It does not work well. It is bad public relations for Montana and other western states. Wolves bring in more dollars in tourism to the Greater Yellowstone Region than hunting and fishing. Wolf hunting is a vendetta, anti-wolf hysteria, pushed by self-serving hunters, trappers, ranchers, supported by rancher politicians and rancher government officials and agencies. If Montana and other states have to hunt, why not stick with a fair chase season and then call it good no matter what the outcome. Spare us the perverse arguments of need for management by trapping, extended hunt seasons, bounties, more than one kill ticket, use of calling devices, need to hit a quota, or use of other barbaric measures of unneeded control. Hunting and trapping are barbaric “sports”. To the small extent that it is needed at all, we do not do near enough about non-lethal means of control or man-management.

    A hunt and trap season is indiscriminate in killing. Wolves causing no problems are killed. Alpha males and females are killed. Wolf families are disrupted. Pups are left to die or learn on their own when a female parent is killed. Wolves that are leaving humans alone are killed. Animals are wounded and not killed. Many hunters and trappers take a sadistic pleasure in how they kill. Hunting and trapping tends to drive down the average age of wolf populations. Some younger wolves are not given the opportunity to learn from adults to stay away from human domains and how to hunt their natural prey.

    Trapping is cruel even if done legally, even if it is a tradition, even if seen as a management tool. Traps are cruel. It should be banned for the public, allowed as necessary for wildlife officials who use it vastly too much with a pervasive kill attitude of their own. Why should animals suffer for private economic gain on fur sales or to artificially farm (boost) elk herds? Over 4 million animals are trapped each year for “sport” and millions more for “management” and millions more as collateral damage. Hunters worldwide kill over 100 million animals. USDA Wildlife Services sees killing animals, for control or management, as their mission. Trapping has not worked. It is time to send the trappers to new pastimes.

    The western states are locked into a mindset of quotas and marginalizing wolf populations by hunting and trapping and other lethal methods. Quotas for delisting were based on outdated figures for sustainable wolf populations. Wolves have not harmed game populations or significantly harmed stock populations (.0048%), contrary to repeated and repeated anecdotal opinion. Elk populations are up, from around 89,000 in 1992 to over 140,000 plus now. Hunters had great seasons on killing ungulates in Montana, 25,000 elk in 2010 and 90,000 deer (per FWP). Elk harvest is generally up, 100 to 127% per MT FWP. Wolves regulate their own populations as they have in Yellowstone where their numbers and bear numbers go down naturally. Problem wolves and problem packs should be “managed” but usually not always by lethal means and not by hunters and trappers. Wildlife agencies seem only to have a kill mentality wanting to control predators by hunting and trapping and other lethal means. Wolves belong in the wilderness and are good for the ecological systems as has been proven in Yellowstone. Wolves are more natural in the wild than man, who no longer needs it for subsistence; now only for sport killing— take a camera instead and go to the grocery to get your meat, take a hike or bike or horse, or go camping.

    Wolves should not have been removed from the ESA list, especially in the underhanded way in which they were. The states are not ready for wolf management and wildlife agencies are of the same ilk. USDA Wildlife Services should be dismantled. Ken Salazar of Interior should be fired. Wolves next to Yellowstone should not be delisted or hunted. Tourism to see wolves brings many times more revenue to the Greater Yellowstone area than hunting. Wolves should be managed regionally not state my state and locale to locale with the anecdotal opinions of vocal-local-yokels, sportsmen and ranchers. Wildlife agencies are working for these groups, not the wildlife and so should have major shakeups in personnel.

    Hunters and trappers, animal slaughter:

    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.191377707598485.43122.191368640932725&type=3

    http://prospect.org/article/wolves-slaughter#.T4Oq09Q7cYI.email

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120409133924.htm#.T4NgP0moRpp.email

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/03/30/the-perverse-logic-of-wolf-hunts/#.T4OvXkCg_vV.email

    • avatar Nabeki says:

      @Roger

      Excellent analysis. Thank you!!

    • avatar ma'iingan says:

      “Hunting and trapping tends to drive down the average age of wolf populations.”

      There is evidence to the contrary in a study of wolf harvest in Alaska – shooting harvest was comprised of 50% yearlings, which aligned with their their percentage of the total pre-hunt population, and trapping harvest was comprised of 62% yearlings.

      This suggests that moderate levels of wolf harvest actually drive the average age of the population upwards, which could delay dispersal and actually increase pack cohesion.

      Layne G. Adams, Robert O. Stephenson, Bruce W. Dale, Robert T. Ahgook and Dominic J. Demma, Wildlife Monographs, No. 170, Population Dynamics and Harvest Characteristics of Wolves in the Central Brooks Range, Alaska (May, 2008), pp. 1-25.

      • avatar louise kane says:

        Ma’, Alaska has a much larger population of wolves then Idaho or Montana. Is “harvesting” 50% of a population in a year modest?

        I truly hate that word harvest as its applied.

    • avatar Mike says:

      Well done, Roger.

  12. avatar Roger Hewitt says:

    Wolves bring more tourism dollars to MT-WY-ID than sportsmen and hunting. No matter how many times ranchers say wolves have significant impact on stock, it is a myth, it is not true, it is only .0048 percent for which, in MT, and they are reimbursed. No matter how many times sportsmen say it, that wolves are decimating elk or other game animals, it is a myth. Elk numbers have risen from 89,000 to over 140,000 in MT since wolves have come back.

    Wolf numbers should not be marginalized. They belong in the ecology, are good for it, and are good for tourism and the image of WY, MT, and ID as places having the last vestiges of the wild.

    Wolves need a safe corridor out of Yellowstone, through WY and into the Rocky Mountain range for biodiversity. A corridor should be protected year around.

    I hope WY, MT, and ID can do more to prove that wolves will be protected in a viable ecology and have complete safe zones, and that if the named states insist on hunting wolves, which they shouldn’t, that they do so with a short fair chase season, not an all out, kill, kill, kill vendetta.. So far, with the wolf slaughter in the mentioned states and the attempts to marginalize wolves, an economic and ecological mistake, and the way the wildlife agencies, state and federal, are paying too much attention to hysterical sportsmen and stock associations, state management of wolves is a disappointment and mistake.

    • avatar Mike says:

      ++No matter how many times ranchers say wolves have significant impact on stock, it is a myth, it is not true, it is only .0048 percent for which, in MT, and they are reimbursed. No matter how many times sportsmen say it, that wolves are decimating elk or other game animals, it is a myth. Elk numbers have risen from 89,000 to over 140,000 in MT since wolves have come back.++

      Well said.

  13. avatar Jon Way says:

    I would like to hear Mark Gamblin’s response to this article and people’s comments. Seriously…

    I have always said that coyote and wolf slaughters remind me so much of racism and hatred of others. Glad to see that George has eloquently described this here.

  14. avatar Rhonda Lanier says:

    I listened to the hearing in Helena last Thursday and I can say unequivocally George’s analogy could not be more accurate.

    It is the federal government these people hate and fear. Tragically, the Wolf is just a substitute. Ignorance and fear is ugly, no matter who is targeted.

  15. avatar Anja says:

    George,

    i felt the same way at the meeting… I’ve sent your excellent article to FWP and the Commmissioners, thought they may be interested in reading what we’re thinking of their mad wolf ‘management’ policy… Thanks, Anja

  16. avatar Ron Moody says:

    “Genuine tragedies in the world are not conflicts between right and wrong. They are conflicts between two rights.”
    — Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, German philosopher

    • avatar Jerry Black says:

      I think it’s important to note that Ron Moody is one of the MFWP Commissioners that voted in favor of this proposal.

    • avatar JB says:

      In 1903, more than 4,000 wolves were killed and turned in for bounty in the state of Montana. Notably, this occurred after the functional elimination of bison two decades earlier (see Riley et al. 2004; link below).

      The clash of “rights” isn’t a tragedy; rather, it’s simply the reality of managing natural resources in a multiple use context. The real tragedy here is watching Idahoans and Montanans exhibit the same fear, hatred and misunderstanding of wolves that led to their extirpation in the first place.

      http://www.fw.msu.edu.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/~rileysh2/Wolf-cougar%20bounties.pdf

    • avatar louise kane says:

      Mr. Moody,

      I have extensive notes from a lengthy, and mutually cordial conversation I had with a Montana commissioner on 11.10.11. During the conversation, I was told that Montana did not propose to trap wolves then and was not going to consider trapping or snaring of wolves at any time in the future. At the time I believed that the person who told me this was sincere. It was a relief to hear considering Idaho’s tact in wolf management. I thought, at least Montana is not going to trap and snare. To see now that these methods, along with no quotas, are being considered leads me to ask why. Although I was not at the latest meeting in Helena I think George’s words ring true. “the wolf has been convicted and sentenced in the court of public opinion—at least the portion of the public I observed at the hearings. There is no other way to explain the depth of hatred and fear I witnessed. Any rational examination of the evidence against the wolf would not justify the death penalty that I fear will be imposed by the Commission.” To implement the new proposals being considered only validates and legitimizes the knee-jerk reactions of a wolf hating mob where science, fairness, common sense and rational thinking should prevail instead. I remember calling to speak to the commission to thank all of you for voting no to extending the wolf hunting season, I reached you. I clearly remember the conversation because you expressed concern that the vote to end the hunt would create even more anti-wolf hysteria. It seems like that has happened. I believe that the Montana commission intended to manage wolves more responsibly then Idaho and with more fairness. Its no time to change direction now. The FWP also represented that it was going to manage wolves like other game species. So why now traps, snares and no quotas? Please I would like to know why these proposals are on the table when we were promised they would not be and when they are unwarranted, unnecessary and will certainly do nothing to prevent anti-wolf sentiment, protect ungulates or cattle, or create healthier ecosystems.

    • avatar Salle says:

      Ron Moody (MTFW&P),

      Yeah, right. Hegel was a philosopher who articulated the blueprint for social psychosis and advocated continuous conflict. Advocating for social psychosis isn’t a good place to start there, dude. It’s where we already are, and that needs healing and behavioral change among all parties in the play… you guys included.

      Don’t forget the fiduciary responsibilities to which you swore and your oath of office, which makes you a public servant. I advise you, as my employee, to remember the “servant” part of your title.

  17. avatar Lesly Nixon says:

    You are right on the money as usual and I love the analogy. I attended your talk in Sandpoint & really appreciate the statistics & science provided. If only the right people would absorb the info!

  18. Excellent arguments and well written. You might enjoy Forest Service Suzanne Fouty’s interview on the same topic. http://www.martinezbeavers.org/wordpress/2012/03/03/suzanne-fouty-agents-of-change/

  19. avatar louise kane says:

    “When George writes I drop everything” That’s how I feel also. Mr Wuerthner you are an eloquent writer and a voice to be listened to. Thank you for yet another excellent article.

    please everyone who has written on this post take a minute to send your comments here to montana before the 25th of june or better yet now!

  20. avatar TC says:

    Much of this is good, truthful, substantiated, and well written – impactful and useful writing that could be forwarded. I’m incredibly uncomfortable with the linkage to Harper Lee’s shining moment of a book and comparing the homicidal and omnipresent racism and the lives of black people in the Jim Crow south to the plight of wolves in western states. It’s beyond a wee bit insensitive and frankly strikes me as both arrogant and blithe, that these two “cultural biases” should hold the same place on the continuum of human deviance. Much as I admire and respect wolves, they are not humans that suffered for 300 years at the hands of their paler conspecifics (and many would argue, continue to suffer). This piece would be so much better if it was written about the human/wolf issues alone. Simple writing, sans hand-waving or socially (or factually) suspect analogy always is most powerful. One man’s opinion.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      TC,

      Well then, be thankful these angry, but confused folks are scapegoating the wolf rather than some ethnic or social group because I think there are people out there, perhaps hirelings of right wing billionaires, who do want to stir up violent social conflict around these issue in general.

      It is important to remember than the second rise of the Ku Klux Klan did not especially target Blacks as much as it did non- conformists. Also, the second KKK in the 1920s was strong in the West and in rural areas.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        Ralph,

        The movement, as you well know, is still very strong in many areas of Montana and Idaho.

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          Save Bears,

          ???

          Not sure, but I assume you mean the nullificationists, white supremacists, freemen, county sovereignty folks, etc., that have existed for some time in Northern Idaho and Montana.

          But maybe I didn’t understand.

          • avatar SAP says:

            Ralph – one of the things that troubles me greatly about the anti-wolf extremists is just how close they are to tipping over into violence against people as well as wolves.

            I’m sure your experience is the same as mine: talk to an anti-wolf extremist for any length of time and they’ll start ranting against the awful people who inflicted these terrible wolves on them. “Natural Law & Wolves Expert” James Beers and his accusations about lawbreaking — even though he has not to my knowledge even tried to get someone to file criminal charges — is keeping people all stirred up. How many more steps does it take beyond branding someone as a criminal to really dehumanize them? And once dehumanized, how much easier is it to incite violence against them?

            Maybe that’s not what Professor Beers really intends. If not, he needs to poop or get off the pot regarding these accusations. Of course, never actually getting charges filed further reinforces the idea that there’s a massive coverup that extends to the US Department of Justice, further fueling a sense of injustice.

            At some point, these suggestible, weak-minded people are going to act out. And guess what? Their imagined “enemies” driving around in Priuses and Subarus are actually a lot easier to find than wolves are.

            • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

              SAP,

              It troubles me too, but I think the problem is more general. Those trying to stir up trouble, and think ultimately it might be far right million and billionaires, have a fantasy of another American civil war, but this is impossible because there are few lines of geographic separation. However, quasi-fascist violence against people such as during the second rise of the KKK may emerge. I do think that today the people who might do this can be more easily tracked down than in the past.

  21. avatar Sandra McGee says:

    WOW ~ this article is fascinating. I loved it.
    Thank You George!!

  22. avatar Robert R says:

    If hunting and cruel trapping would not be alowed as a management tool than how should the wolf be managed.
    I am all for the wolf but it seems it’s a one way street of neither side agreeing on a common goal to benefit the whole echo system. I am trying to figure out why the wolf is so sacred and other animals are disposable.
    I may not see things in the same way about the wolf but I will not lower myself to labeling anyone or any organization.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Robert, it will be a few generations before there will be agreement on this issue, in reality, it has not been that long since the wolves were reintroduced, things don’t happen overnight. There is no way that a common goal for the system will be found, every person has their own idea on what should be a whole eco-system.

    • avatar louise kane says:

      To Robert” I am trying to figure out why the wolf is so sacred and other animals are disposable.” Its the other way around, why are the elk and cattle so sacred and wolves are so disposable. Wolves are necessary for healthy ecosystems and they are treated with much prejudice and hatred. Its not management by any means.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        Louise, when ever their is a perceived threat to a human food source, you are going to see bias, hate and lust to get rid of that threat..

        • avatar WM says:

          SB,

          I think you will also see rational and irrational thoughts and vocalization by those who perceive (right or wrong) increased costs to their livelihood, threats to their “way of life,” federal governmental interference, inconvenience, and maybe even a shifting of political winds, potential economic losses (think hunting license/tag revenues, outfitters) which if offset will benefit different folks, and of course losses of hunting opportunity.

          It is not just about “persecuting” wolves without reason, as some might suggest. That is why I see tension with George’s use of analogy and symbolism in this piece.

          From a literary and academic perspective I see value in the piece and liked it. However, from a wolf advocacy and ultimately problem-solving perspective it has strong potential to be unnecessarily divisive, and not particularly helpful because of the images it projects.

          • avatar louise kane says:

            WM you write, “It is not just about “persecuting” wolves without reason, as some might suggest. That is why I see tension with George’s use of analogy and symbolism in this piece.”

            i don’t believe George was suggesting that westerners persecute wolves without reason. His piece argues, in fact, that its about irrational fears and displaced aggression. This is what you just argued.

            George wrote, “In Montana there is displaced aggression being heaped upon the wolf. For some with the most extreme opinions in Montana, the wolf actually represents the distance federal government or worse a UN global plot to subjugate rural America that they fear is controlling their lives. When they kill wolves, they are lashing out at these institutions they fear.”

            I disagree that “from a wolf advocacy perspective (the article) has strong potential to be unnecessarily divisive, and not particularly helpful because of the images it projects.”

            George’s article is insightful and projects the image of an entrenched mindset about carnivores that is destructive, divisive, and detrimental in any number of ways.

            what would you consider to be a helpful portrayal of the current atmosphere, from a wolf advocacy and ultimately problem solving perspective?

            • avatar JB says:

              Louise:

              I agree with WM’s point (also see TC’s comments, below). You are not likely to create any converts by comparing people who fear wolves to racists. In fact, you may have the opposite effect. Let me see if I can explain…

              Given the levels of animosity in Idaho and Montana, most folks are likely to know someone who is “against” (for lack of a better term)wolves. They may read George’s essay and even be compelled by some of his arguments. However, they are forced to reconcile their image of the person they know who fears/dislikes wolves with the image of a hateful racist. Seeing more differences than similarities, they reject the analogy and may also reject the legitimacy of some of the other information (as the source becomes less credible).

            • avatar Brian Ertz says:

              seeking to gain ‘converts’ and speaking the truth are two different things.

              What George says is a sound analogy – it’s the truth.

              To me, the integrity of that truth is more important than trying to manipulate folk on the fence – who largely don’t care and aren’t likely to act either way.

              I actually also disagree with the suggestion that this truth is less compelling.

            • avatar JB says:

              Brian:

              I’m certainly all in favor of being truthful in how one frames a problem. But, truthfulness (or truthiness) is not a criteria by which one determines success (it’s a lot easier to be truthful, then to actually win, politically). As an advocate, success is winning people over to your policy positions. Certainly there are other ways of framing this problem that are no less “true”, but would be far less likely to elicit opposition. Or put simply, why burn bridges to make your point when you don’t have to?
              ——-

              P.S. I’ve reacted similarly to people who compare wolves’ persecution to the persecution of Jews. I just do not feel it is right to equivocate the plight of millions of people who were persecuted and murdered for their religious beliefs (or the color of their skin) with the plight of any wild animal.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Any sort of anological connection will have it’s weak points. That said, the plight of those in this particular analogy gives a poignant point of reference, for those who might not know the historical foundations for the wars on wolves in N. America.

            • avatar Brian Ertz says:

              JB,

              The question of whether drawing analogy between the plight of wolves and that of other oppressed subjects is appropriate can be seen from at least two angles.

              It sounds as though you object to drawing a parallel between the value of wild animals and that of human beings – the value of the subject receiving the ire is determinative in whether George’s critique is soundly applied – from your point of view.

              First, I do not necessarily share that distinction when assigning value – whether the subject is a human being or wildlife does not make the behavior/motive of the agent more or less rational – nor do I believe pointing to the parallels necessarily trivializes the plight of one or the other. It may play into arguments as to whether the agent’s behavior is moral/ethical – but again, I likewise disagree with you on the extent to which wildlife ought be subjugated in terms of moral agency. I think wildlife ought enjoy a great deal more moral consideration than they do right now.

              But there’s another side – and that is the, morality, volition, and rationality of the agent exercising judgement and/or behavior toward the party receiving that disdain. That’s where George draws the analogy.

              To me, with this essay – the subject of the disdain is less determinative – George is critiquing the behavior/mindset of agents distributing the judgement, and in exploring that behavior – whether it be rational, etc. – it pretty soundly matches that of its analogy.

              So. Is it moral/ethical/rational when applied to wolves ?

              No.

            • avatar JB says:

              Brian:

              We could have a long conversation on the value of non-human life and the extent to which other organisms deserve moral consideration, but that is a conversation for another day (and [at least] a few bears).

              George’s arguments certainly appealed to me, and I’ll admit that his analogy is compelling. Nevertheless, commenting as a pragmatist (and one who knows a bit about persuasive communication), my earlier critique stands. You don’t convince people that you’re right by making analogies that imply that they, their friends, relatives or neighbors are racists–even if it’s true.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++
              I agree with WM’s point (also see TC’s comments, below). You are not likely to create any converts by comparing people who fear wolves to racists. In fact, you may have the opposite effect. Let me see if I can explain…++

              Actually, it is a form of racism. It’s called speciesism:

              http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speciesism

              There is absolutely no question this is what’s going on in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming at present.

              This kind of ignorant behavior needs to be shouted down at every opportunity. It’s just not cool. The truth is more important than ruffling feathers.

            • avatar JB says:

              “There is absolutely no question this is what’s going on in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming at present…This kind of ignorant behavior needs to be shouted down at every opportunity.”

              And what sort of reaction do you anticipate when you start shouting at people and labeling them “ignorant” and “racist”? (Hint: How have hunters on this board reacted to your negative stereotypes of them?) If ignorance is the problem, then information–not insult–is the cure.

          • avatar louise kane says:

            and by the way I agree with this WM
            “I think you will also see rational and irrational thoughts and vocalization by those who perceive (right or wrong) increased costs to their livelihood, threats to their “way of life,” federal governmental interference, inconvenience, and maybe even a shifting of political winds, potential economic losses (think hunting license/tag revenues, outfitters) which if offset will benefit different folks, and of course losses of hunting opportunity.” But this does not make the persecution and intolerance of carnivores and predators any less severe, real, unjustified or palatable.

            • avatar louise kane says:

              Brian” I likewise disagree with you on the extent to which wildlife ought be subjugated in terms of moral agency. I think wildlife ought enjoy a great deal more moral consideration than they do right now.”

              well said.

          • avatar WM says:

            Louise,

            ++I disagree that “from a wolf advocacy perspective (the article) has strong potential to be unnecessarily divisive, and not particularly helpful because of the images it projects.”

            I guess we will just have to wait and see how many additional folks in the middle or in a swing position this brings to the wolf advocacy table, or if groups like RMEF are pursuaded to change their position, and ultimately whether any wildlife agency alters course.

            And as for irrational fears, etc., you and I, and maybe others have different views of what is rational, and what may not be.

            can’t say I am personally looking forward to the day when I drive through cattle or sheep country to see long segments of private fencing adorned with 2″ x 18″ flags of bright red ribbon spaced every 8-10 feet or so (maybe electrified), like some out of place Christo art project. And, besides, the research suggests it doesn’t work long term anyway.

            I wouldn’t say my own passive desire, to not see this stuff rises to or enhances the level of “displaced aggression.” However, I can appreciate the view of the commercial livestock or recreational stock and pet owners that have to take the extra time/incur additional cost to place and maintain it, based on perceived risk and even instruction from the government (federal or state as the case may be). Not sure I would label either view as “irrational” or feeding off of the same energy field as described by a literary racist analogy or symbolism from a popular American novel.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              WM

              +++can’t say I am personally looking forward to the day when I drive through cattle or sheep country to see long segments of private fencing adorned with 2″ x 18″ flags of bright red ribbon spaced every 8-10 feet or so (maybe electrified), like some out of place Christo art project. And, besides, the research suggests it doesn’t work long term anyway.+++

              Part of me agrees with this statement, then another part thinks that it would be a positive sign/badge of attempts of coexistence, and that’s not bad.

            • avatar Louise Kane says:

              WM, there is a great deal that can be said about your last post and the analogy of westerners and wolves to southerners and blacks…I leave for a trip today so that will wait, however…

              you said ” can’t say I am personally looking forward to the day when I drive through cattle or sheep country to see long segments of private fencing adorned with 2″ x 18″ flags of bright red ribbon spaced every 8-10 feet or so (maybe electrified), like some out of place Christo art project. And, besides, the research suggests it doesn’t work long term anyway.”.

              Isn’t the alternative much more unsettling? How about millions of acres with not much on them but elk, cattle, sheep and a few other rancher, deemed- worthy species. And cattle trample earth and riparian areas into rock-hard unproductive dead zones. How about thousands of acres strewn with traps and snares containing dying and suffering animals.

              I don’t know the accuracy of your statement about fencing not working, but killing predators, at least the way it’s being done, doesn’t work either and is far more destructive.

              You have created a pretty stark characterization of the western landscape with fencing. I guess the underlying premise is that its unfair to ask ranchers to find ways to accommodate wolves using non- lethal management techniques, because the landscape will suffer. Its unfair to allow the current state of management to go unchallenged when wildlife and the landscape are being decimated.

              and is that concern perhaps a bit dramatic? I know that organizations like Living with Wolves have more than one tool in their kit to protect livestock using non lethal techniques, and they don’t always include fencing. There are other valid arguments for keeping cattle in closer groups. Livestock is extremely destructive in large numbers to various habitats.

              WM something has to change, and change does create friction, fear and anger, especially when old traditions are challenged. But the tradition of killing and displacing wildlife to accommodate ranchers has to be redefined. If
              westerners are unwilling to stop eradicating and persecuting carnivores and other species like Bison then they should expect discussions about the insanity that most of the rest of us seem to recognize.

              Is there one person who posts here that, with hand to heart, can really defend the proposed or current state wolf management plans coming out of Wisconsin, Wyoming, Monntana or Idaho?

          • avatar Mike says:

            ++From a literary and academic perspective I see value in the piece and liked it. However, from a wolf advocacy and ultimately problem-solving perspective it has strong potential to be unnecessarily divisive, and not particularly helpful because of the images it projects.++

            Of course you’d feel that way. You don’t like wolves.

            The most important part of advocacy is telling the truth. Time has a way of sorting out the mopes who don’t believe it.

            • avatar WM says:

              Mike,

              ++Of course you’d feel that way. You don’t like wolves.++

              Well, you are wrong once again. I like wolves just fine. I just don’t like as many in some places, like where I hunt elk. This is no different than having too many elk in orchards because they have no winter range, or deer because they like the roses in somebody’s garden, or the raccoon who climbs the fence to get into the neighbor’s yard. When some of those critters show up, they need to be chased off, and their numbers controlled if they don’t stay away or they get into trouble.

              As I have said before on this forum numerous times, if states that don’t want the wolves they have, can find states that do they should trap them and release them in a new home state. And, I do think Journey, hanging out by his lonesome, in N. CA needs a few friends. I sure as hell don’t see CA calling for some to be brought in from ID or MT. Is there a case to be made they don’t like wolves? Or, is it just that CA does not want the aggravation and cost associated with management of them, including the political liability?

            • avatar Jeff N. says:

              WM says

              “Well, you are wrong once again. I like wolves just fine. I just don’t like as many in some places, like where I hunt elk. This is no different than having too many elk in orchards because they have no winter range, or deer because they like the roses in somebody’s garden, or the raccoon who climbs the fence to get into the neighbor’s yard. When some of those critters show up, they need to be chased off, and their numbers controlled if they don’t stay away or they get into trouble.”

              What’s the matter WM…you can’t handle a little of nature’s competition. You can always go to a canned hunting business and bag your elk.

              And your analogy is nonsense regarding deer feeding in someone’s garden vs. a wolf killing elk in the wild. I don’t need to explain…you know exactly what I mean. Horseshit analogy.

            • avatar WM says:

              Jeff N.,

              You are right about analogies. That is why I rarely use them, because they all break down at some level, and some folks just don’t get them, anyway. The point is (and you missed it based on your comment) – in each scenario the end tool is management of some sort to alleviate the perceived problem.

              As for elk hunting, we have been encountering wolves about the last six years or so, and the hunting has been much different, fewer animals seen even when hunting the brush, less productive for hunters and much harder. We have seen fewer spike animals and yearling+ cows, which means the rotating wolf population cycling through the area seems to be getting alot of the young of the year, which do not survive until next. The biologists doing surveys in the area confirm this (along bears getting more these days).

              Don’t mind the competition, but a little less from wolves is fine with most who hunt here. Probably take three years or more to show any evidence of improvement in resident herd age distribution and other demographics, even if the wolf population is plateaued for a couple of years.

              Never been on a canned hunt, don’t hunt for trophies anyway, and don’t intend to break the streak.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++Well, you are wrong once again. I like wolves just fine. I just don’t like as many in some places, like where I hunt elk. This is no different than having too many elk in orchards because they have no winter range, or deer because they like the roses in somebody’s garden, or the raccoon who climbs the fence to get into the neighbor’s yard. When some of those critters show up, they need to be chased off, and their numbers controlled if they don’t stay away or they get into trouble.++

              Actually it’s completely different. None of those animals are rare in the lower 48. There are about 1500 wolves in the west over 290,000 square miles.

              It sounds like what you’re looking for is a fenced-in game farm that is designed to suit your own selfish desires, not actual ,real wildlands.

              ++As I have said before on this forum numerous times, if states that don’t want the wolves they have, can find states that do they should trap them and release them in a new home state. And, I do think Journey, hanging out by his lonesome, in N. CA needs a few friends. I sure as hell don’t see CA calling for some to be brought in from ID or MT. Is there a case to be made they don’t like wolves? Or, is it just that CA does not want the aggravation and cost associated with management of them, including the political liability?++

              It’s clear you’re anti-wolf, period. Stop the charade.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Mike,

              As I said elsewhere in this thread, for every good comment you make, you have one that is asinine. You can’t see the forest for the trees. Because of your proneness to shoot from the hip (pun intended) you miss the subtleties and true meanings of what others write. Case in point, Elk’s reference to Carter, that you missed and boom.

              Now, twice you have accused WM of not liking wolves. I have never seen anything written by WM that can be interpreted as WM not liking wolves. He is not afraid to play devils advocate on the wolf issue, and state the reality of the “states” overview of possible wolf concerns.

              You state your opinion, but when others do the same, you lump them into a hunter, anti-wolf category because their philosophy/overview of the situation does not match yours. Then you get upset at some of the comments that are slung your way, as mean spirited. You have harassed others in terms of support for their comments, but provide little of your own. You, as a commenter can’t have it both ways.

        • avatar Jerry Black says:

          Save Bears…..”threat to a human food source”…..you know as well as I that most hunting isn’t about “feeding families”. It’s about getting a trophy, peer pressure, or just plain going out to kill something because ‘I’m a 5th generation Montanan and that’s what my family does and always has”.
          As I’ve said before…I admire your hunting ethics…I know how difficult it is to bow hunt. (I grew up in New Mexico bow hunting and managed my own archery shop)
          BUT, look at the “hunters” of today….big rig with an ATV in the back, a big gut hanging over the belt…hell they can’t walk 5 miles, thousands of dollars worth of rifle scopes, rangefinders, spotting scopes and rifles that reach out to nearly a half mile. Ethics and “feeding the family” isn’t their objective. It is where you hang out, but that’s not the case most places.
          So, I don’t buy the argument that “most” hunters are pissed off at wolves because they’re “stealing their food”….it’s ignorance and culture.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Jerry, you did notice I said “Perceived” didn’t you?

          • avatar Elk275 says:

            Jerry

            ++ thousands of dollars worth of rifle scopes, rangefinders, spotting scopes and rifles that reach out to nearly a half mile.++

            So if it is unethical for a hunter to used spotting scopes, rangefinders and high grade binoculars is it unethical for wildlife watchers to use similar type optics. Just a thought.

            All modern rifles will reach out a half mile but can the shooter it kill an animal at a half mile. In order to shoot that distance one must pactice shooting that far, most hunter sight in two inches high at one hundred yards and call it good, then rely on published ballistic charts, it does not work that way.

            I have a Leica 1200 range finder and everytime I use it, I think about the ethics.

            • avatar Salle says:

              “So if it is unethical for a hunter to used spotting scopes, rangefinders and high grade binoculars is it unethical for wildlife watchers to use similar type optics.”

              How so? Wildlife watchers are there to watch without killing what they are watching, and that’s unethical?

            • avatar SAP says:

              You HAVE to know the range, and the particular ballistics of your ammo-rifle combo, to shoot accurately. Shooting accurately = clean, humane kills.

              Sure, it takes more skill and experience to come up with a good estimate without a range finder. I’ve done it for years, but I would really rather have that Leica 1200. Money is the only obstacle.

              People seem to think that rangefinders give the hunter an additional edge, making it less likely the animal will escape. Maybe. That’s assuming that the shooters’ failure to accurately estimate range would, in almost all cases, lead to a clean miss. I doubt very much that that’s the case. In practice, it’s more likely that a bad estimate will lead to wounding instead of a clean miss (a little high, you make a non-fatal hit above the vitals; a little low, you blow off a leg).

              Sure, we could argue that hunters should take only shots where they know the range, and should be reasonably competent at estimating range up to 300 yards. Not a bad guideline for most modern cartridges.

              For example. .308 Winchester (7.62 NATO) in 150 grain is going to drop somewhere around 9″ from muzzle to 300 yards. If you can’t tell the difference between 100 yards and 300 yards on elk, you probably shouldn’t be out there. So, if it looks like the range is probably over 250, holding a little high on the vitals (depending on where you zeroed) ought to get you right into the heart and lungs.

              Be that as it may, there are situations where a rangefinder would help a lot in leading to a cleaner kill, or perhaps choosing not to shoot. I’d much rather see people trying to be better shooters than not.

              As for some equivalency with non-hunters using optics – I disagree. If anything, good optics allow you to view and appreciate animals without disturbing them.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++So if it is unethical for a hunter to used spotting scopes, rangefinders and high grade binoculars is it unethical for wildlife watchers to use similar type optics. Just a thought. ++

              The wildlife watchers aren’t rocketing toxic lead through the animal’s lungs. Sort of different.

            • avatar elk275 says:

              Salle

              Both hunting and wildlife watching are legal. Hunters have a regulation booket over 100 pages of regulations and laws to follow in the field. Ethics what an individual does above and beyond the law.

            • avatar Salle says:

              “Hunters have a regulation booket over 100 pages of regulations and laws to follow in the field.

              Yeah, that’s nice. And so I can’t help but wonder if any of them read the book(s), that is if they have the capacity to actually read an comprehend.

            • avatar Savebears says:

              Salle,

              I am a hunter, I read and comprehend the rules and advocated for those rules very strongly.

            • avatar Salle says:

              Savebears,

              Okay, so then:

              n = x-1

            • avatar elk275 says:

              Salle

              Do you think that you could read and understand the Montana, Wyoming and Idaho hunting regulation in one reading? I doubt it. There was several items in the new Montana 2012 regulations that took awhile to understand and I have been reading them for the last 50 years.

  23. avatar Steve Bentjen says:

    George is right on target with this article. He gives a great talk too. I got to hear him in Moscow, Idaho.

  24. avatar TC says:

    It can be helpful to remember that truth without compassion (and I’d argue, perspective) can be cruelty. There’s an awful lot of caucasian perspective on this board. I envision a similar analogy – what happened to Native Americans, including blind and ignorant hatred and subjugation, systematic exterminations, and eventual confinements to reservations that a loose cannon could equate to Yellowstone National Park for wolves. It strikes me as equally insensitive and historically abhorrent. But what the hell, go for it. It supports the holy “truth” hypothesis of a moderator to remain nameless. We’re all just animals, right?

    • avatar aves says:

      I agree completely. Comparing the plight of wolves to that of racial or ethnic groups is ridiculous and entirely unnecessary. The treatment of wildlife is bad enough to stand on its own for condemnation, it doesn’t need to be compared to anything. Such comparisons surely would not be made beyond this blog or in the presence of an African American or person of Jewish faith. But on a blog that’s probably devoid of either, it is acceptable to some who believe the more they demonize their opposition the more righteous they and their cause become.

    • avatar Salle says:

      TC,

      Not everyone here on this blog is the white-bread variety.

      I get what you’re saying but it misses the point. I think, IMO, that what the author is saying is that in the book To Kill A Mockingbird, everyone other than the white-folks were treated as though they were nonhuman and that the general public felt this was just fine so long as they had the upper hand over how everyone else was allowed to exist. In present times, openly racist rants in a public forum is not PC so extending that supremacy mentality to animals that represent their disdain for whatever comes into play. I have seen what he speaks of in this article and agree with the comparison. And you can take that from someone who has suffered prejudice before and after the Civil Rights Act of 1964… based on physical appearance regardless of ethnicity.

  25. avatar Mike says:

    ++There’s an awful lot of caucasian perspective on this board. ++

    That’s part of the anti-wolf problem right off the bat. Cultural isolation.

  26. avatar elk275 says:

    Mike

    ++The wildlife watchers aren’t rocketing toxic lead through the animal’s lungs. Sort of different.++

    I do not think that it would make any diffence to you if the bullet was an all copper Barnes TTXS going through an animals lungs. Mike does not like hunting with or without lead bullets.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Mike don’t even like sharp steel going through an animals lungs.

      • avatar Salle says:

        And there’s something inherently wrong about his views such that you practice a running derogation upon Mike for maintaining a view contrary to yours?

        I think you guys have a problem with folks who don’t advocate the killing of wildlife, especially the type of killing you enjoy. In reading all your posts about what a cad he must be for having that view, I think you might be feeling pangs of guilt or something akin to that… prompting a sense of need to defend your views at all cost. Your demeaning attitudes toward someone who dislikes hunting, and killing in general, betrays your inability to allow others to have a differing view from your own… the rhetoric is getting pretty stale.

        Yes, hunting is legal but does that make it right or promote a mandate that all must agree with and advocate for the activity? Or is it that you find it hard to justify in you own quiet space when looking in the mirror? A host of other inequities are “legal” too but never mind that, any view that does not promote or agree with yours is fair game when it comes to the personal attack. Just because you guys can’t agree does not automatically allow for such nasty mud slinging (which I have had lodged at me on occasion) with impunity. I could easily lodge many of the same complaints against you guys. Food for thought. A serious glance in that cosmic mirror might teach you some things about your own stance that you might want to reconsider… Your attacks lodged at Mike make you sound like those folks that Mr. Wuerthner described in the article to which this thread is dedicated. It keeps folks from wanting to participate in the discussion, especially if they don’t agree with you.

        • avatar Mike says:

          ++And there’s something inherently wrong about his views such that you practice a running derogation upon Mike for maintaining a view contrary to yours?

          I think you guys have a problem with folks who don’t advocate the killing of wildlife, especially the type of killing you enjoy. In reading all your posts about what a cad he must be for having that view, I think you might be feeling pangs of guilt or something akin to that… prompting a sense of need to defend your views at all cost. Your demeaning attitudes toward someone who dislikes hunting, and killing in general, betrays your inability to allow others to have a differing view from your own… the rhetoric is getting pretty stale.++

          Over the last couple of years on this blog, those who believe in non-consumptive outdoor uses have been bullied by those who prefer to kill things when they go outdoors.

          It’s been an ongoing pattern and we’ve lost some pretty good posters because of it.

          I want to say this in the least offense or demeaning way. But many that live in the rural west automatically give more credence to someone who says they are a hunter. It’s a sort of cowboy romanticism that still exists. And no offense toward Carter (or others like him) but he had to be “born again”. He was “one of them” and switched. Okay, that’s great, and I hope this sways many, many minds in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana that are having trouble grasping the facts about wolves. But don’t forget many of us didn’t need to slaughter wolf packs to figure out it was wrong.

          I think some get a little twinkle-eyed when the rare hunter comes forth and says they support wolves. I admit, it surprises me too. But they don’t have any more credibility than non-hunters. But in the eyes of those who are ensconced in a culture of guns, perhaps they do.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Being bullied goes both ways Mike, you have done your share of it, without Ralph who has the vision to let both sides voice opinions on the subject, this would just be another hunter bashing blog, which is just as bad as those who are hating wolves.

            As a wildlife supporter I will add, many don’t feel they needed wolves, it cuts both ways, and it is going to take generations to change it.

            • avatar Savebears says:

              As far as losing posters, so what, these are hot issues, if people can’t stand the fire of changes, then that is fine, I run a couple of blogs and have never worried about those that leave, that is their choice.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++Being bullied goes both ways Mike, you have done your share of it, without Ralph who has the vision to let both sides voice opinions on the subject, this would just be another hunter bashing blog, which is just as bad as those who are hating wolves++

              Just another hunter bashing blog? There aren’t very many of those, SB. however, there are a ton of hunting sites that post graphic photos of prairie dog “misting” and bashing of those who thinks it’s unethical. Don’t even get me started on all those other photos of coyotes being chewed apart by hound dogs, etc. Or trappers taking tourist shots with a bleeding wolf in a trap behind them…

              ++As a wildlife supporter I will add, many don’t feel they needed wolves, it cuts both ways, and it is going to take generations to change it.++

              It doesn’t matter. Their actions will put wolves back on the list indefinitely.

            • avatar Savebears says:

              Mike, you may think wolves will be put on the list again, but it will never happen as George said, there are far bigger things going on here, put them back on the list, it won’t matter. You simply don’t seem to understand, if Washington moves to list wolves again, misguided people are going commit 100% to getting rid of them once and for all.

              You can write all of the laws you want, but there is a certain portion of society that won’t care! It is easy to shoot a wolf, I could have done it this afternoon. There are those out there that don’t have a need to brag at the local bar. As I said, those are the ones you need to be thinking about, not those who post to blogs, give interviews on TV, write articles for magazines. You are trying to change a culture, the last time a culture was changed, it took over a hundred years, included a war and then riots in the streets of this Nation..

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++Mike, you may think wolves will be put on the list again, but it will never happen as George said, there are far bigger things going on here, put them back on the list, it won’t matter. You simply don’t seem to understand, if Washington moves to list wolves again, misguided people are going commit 100% to getting rid of them once and for all.++

              Let them. This has all happened before. Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming have proven they can’t responsibly handle wolves. Re-listing is inevitable.

              And as hunting numbers plummet and gas prices climb, it will trend as favorable to the wolf. Eventually, isolated cultures catch up. I’m giving 20-30 years.

              ++You can write all of the laws you want, but there is a certain portion of society that won’t care!++

              You’re letting that North Fork militia juice seep into your logic here.

              ++It is easy to shoot a wolf, I could have done it this afternoon. There are those out there that don’t have a need to brag at the local bar. As I said, those are the ones you need to be thinking about++

              The wolves in the North Fork have done pretty well thanks to GNP, so I’m not to worried.

            • avatar Savebears says:

              Mike, your ignorance is showing, I have lived in the North Fork for a long time now, the majority of those living here have trophy houses and have moved here from Colorado or California.

              What do you really think the Feds are going to do, if those that want wolves gone organize and make a concerted effort to get rid of them?

              I am sure they will call the National Guard in! Not going to happen.

              But really what do you think can be done? We are out of prison space, I don’t know of one wolf poacher that has done jail time(which they should) Really, exactly what do you think is going to happen?

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++Mike, your ignorance is showing, I have lived in the North Fork for a long time now, the majority of those living here have trophy houses and have moved here from Colorado or California.++

              I camp for a week on the North Fork every year, between Kintla and Bowman. I fish all up and down the North Fork. It’s awesome, one of my favorite places, in fact I love it so much I’d never ruin it by building a gaudy house there.

              ++What do you really think the Feds are going to do, if those that want wolves gone organize and make a concerted effort to get rid of them?++

              Jail? Fines? etc.

              Again, this “woods magic” is seeping into your posts.

              ++I am sure they will call the National Guard in! Not going to happen.++

              Are you implying there’s an army of poachers ready to coordinate the removal of wolves from the North Fork?

            • avatar Savebears says:

              Ok, Jail and fines! Yup that stopped so many in the past, you will never get it. Now your going to go down the road of , this and that is seeping into.

              By the way congrats on spending a WEEK in the north fork once a year, I spend 365 a year in the NF and the NF you experience is a completely different place than I do..

            • avatar Savebears says:

              Oh christ here we go, implying..I am implying nothing, I simply live with these people year around. If your staying between Kintla and Bowman, then you are not staying in the NF, your staying in the park, completely different experience. I live in a cabin that was built over 100 years ago, I have not built a trophy home, but if I did, it would be on my land, which you have no say over.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Yes, SB, it’s not as long as you, but I do spend a good amount of time in and around Glacier National Park (both sides of the divide). I’m in the park for a month out of the year. I stay in campgrounds the entire time, so I’m in the good stuff for the entirety of the trip.

              Trust me, I’ve run into some North Forker’s.

              No comment. ;)

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++Oh christ here we go, implying..I am implying nothing,++

              Well, your comments sure inferred that there was some underground group ready to remove wolves once and for all.

              ++I simply live with these people year around. If your staying between Kintla and Bowman, then you are not staying in the NF, your staying in the park, completely different experience.++

              I cross over into the Flathead NF, too. One of my favorite national forests, but I don’t care for the bullet-ridden signs and the trash left around. I have a few favorite camping spots in the NF west of Glacier which I won’t mention here.

              ++ I live in a cabin that was built over 100 years ago, I have not built a trophy home, but if I did, it would be on my land, which you have no say over.++

              Again that North Fork paranoia is spilling into your posts. Bands of locals ready to remove the wolf once and for all, don’t tell me what to do with my property, etc.

              I’ve had to politely brush off several conversations in that area from people who went on and on and on about the U.N., “damn park rangers”, wolves, african americans, private property rights, black helicopters, etc.

          • avatar elk275 says:

            Mike

            ++And no offense toward Carter (or others like him) but he had to be “born again”. He was “one of them” and switched. ++

            He is one of them. I heard Carter speak at the Country Bookstore in Bozeman some 6 months ago. A 6’6″ man came up from the rear of the audience turned around and the first thing he said “Let’s get one thing straight, I am a hunter and a gun owner” Carter likes to hunt. He had complete control of his audience and a wolf lover or a wolf hater would have major differences.

            • avatar Mike says:

              If that’s what it takes to convince those goofs, then so be it.

              I just find it creepy (and a bit odd) that someone would need to state those things, as if they were some form of accomplishment. It just reeks of insecurity.

            • avatar elk275 says:

              Mike

              ++I just find it creepy (and a bit odd) that someone would need to state those things, as if they were some form of accomplishment. It just reeks of insecurity.++

              He just set the tone, nothing creepy and no form of accomplishment. He stated what was and is.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Yes, he did set the tone. A desperate, insecure one.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Huh?

            • avatar Mike says:

              The need to announce you are a “gun owner” is absolutely a display of insecurity, and to be honest, a herd-like mentality.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Huh, again! Now you are a great psychoanalyst.

            • avatar WM says:

              Mike,

              ++I just find it creepy (and a bit odd) that someone {Carter] would need to state those things, as if they were some form of accomplishment. It just reeks of insecurity.++

              You once again you dispense questionable knowledge/opinions outside your paygrade, Mike.

              There are effective communication techniques to lure in, disarm, or get the immediate attention of an audience. Strikes me as Carter has mastered it for this one. With physical presence, illustration of common background, and on the ground knowledge he immediately establishes himself as someone who one should to in just one sentence. The first thirty seconds, it has been said, is when people subiiminally measure up people they meet.

              My father, a retired senior Army officer, once told me of attending a civil affairs school at Ft. Gordon, GA. The speaker was a defecting senior USSR Army officer. Before the start of his presentation he had taken off his shoe, and at the beginning he slammed it on the lecturn (much as Kruschev did when he made the “We will bury you” speech). The officer said, “My name is General Yablakov. You will not forget my name or what I have to say.” My father said it was one of the best and most effective presentations he had ever heard in military training. He told me the story – 30 years later, so apparently he didn’t forget.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Mike

              In support of WM and his statement to you about initial impressions, from Malcolm Gladwell’s book +What the Dog Saw+ Essay The New-Boy Network: What job interviews really tell us: in a nut shell. Experimental psychologist Nalini Ambady at Harvard together with Robert Rosenthal and later comparable experiments conducted at the University of Toledo conclude that the power of first impression suggests that humans have a particular kind of prerational ability for making judgements about others. That first impression could be as short as two seconds.

              Needless to say the essay goes on and sites numerous examples. So Mike, first I will pay you a compliment, and I believe I have said this before. Your passion and energy for wildlife are commendable. Yet, some of the unsupported statements you make, your opinion(s), detract from the value of the worthwhile comments you make. They serve as a lightning rod for the negative attention you receive, because you really don’t seem to care upon who’s toes you tread. I think I’d side with Carter’s approach, he has been there, you have not.

            • avatar Mike says:

              First and foremost, WM, you did not quote me accurately.

              Here is what you quoted:

              ++I just find it creepy (and a bit odd) that someone {Carter] would need to state those things, as if they were some form of accomplishment. It just reeks of insecurity.++

              Here is my actual post:

              I just find it creepy (and a bit odd) that someone would need to state those things, as if they were some form of accomplishment. It just reeks of insecurity.

              This quote referenced not Carter, but another man standing up at the meeting and claiming to be a gun owner.

              Elk 275 claimed that a man who was 6’6 showed up at the back of the crowd and announced he was a gun owner and hunter.

              Not only did you falsely quote me, you also didn’t read the discussion properly. On top of that, you inserted a personal attack about “pay grade”.

              Shameful post, WM.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Let me also add that I support Carter’s techniques. I hope that he convinces everyone in the Rockies who hate wolves to calm down.

              What I don’t fall for is the fake cowboy romanticism. I don’t care if you own guns or hunt as long as you’re telling the truth. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t matter.

              If Carter needs to make these associations, so be it. If it works, even better. I’m all for it and applaud any “conversions” to reality.
              Now, if that 6’6 guy was in fact Carter in Elk 275’s poorly-worded response, then I have no problem with him saying he’s a gun owner. If that was an audience member, I think it’s weird. But a speaker needs to connect with the audience, and stating areas of connection that bring them together is important.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++his statement to you about initial impressions, from Malcolm Gladwell’s book +What the Dog Saw+ Essay The New-Boy Network: What job interviews really tell us: in a nut shell. Experimental psychologist Nalini Ambady at Harvard together with Robert Rosenthal and later comparable experiments conducted at the University of Toledo conclude that the power of first impression suggests that humans have a particular kind of prerational ability for making judgements about others. That first impression could be as short as two seconds.++

              I agree. Elk 275 made it sound like the guy speaking was a nervous audience member. A speaker has to make an immediate connection via common associations.

              ++ I think I’d side with Carter’s approach, he has been there, you have not.++

              I hope it works. I don’t buy into the “born again” romanticism, but I truly hope it works.

            • avatar elk275 says:

              Mike

              I reread what I posted and should have worded it a bit different. The way I remember it was Carter came from the back of the audience, down the middle isle and stood in from front of the crowd. The first thing he said was ” Let’s get something straight, I am a gun owner and a hunter”.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Yes, now it makes sense Elk, thx. What Carter did was intelligent, making a quick connection with his audience. I really hope this method works.

              I thought it was some nervous, wide-eyed audience member blurting something out (sorry, I just got done editing 125,00 words, and I’m probably reading way too much into each and every single word posted).

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Elk,

              Worded differently? Perhaps, but I think it was pretty obvious that the 6’6″ man you referred to was Carter. If one knows anything about Carter, including his height/size, and past speaking engagements and interviews, there was no doubt it was Carter.

            • avatar WM says:

              Elk,

              I knew who you were speaking about Carter, as did Immer.

              _______________

              Mike,

              Pay attention. Outside your pay grade, once again?

          • avatar Savebears says:

            WOW, we are now up to a month, damn!

            • avatar Savebears says:

              Cripes, you spend a month a year on vacation, spending your vacation money, and can leave anytime you want, man oh man, I wish I had that much experience, shit this morning we found a downed colt, that had been killed by a lion in its pen, and a guard dog that had to be put down. Now take in mind this was not in a campground, it was in the real world. Visit all you want Mike, but don’t think you even know what real life is.

            • avatar Mike says:

              SB –

              I spend about 60 tent nights a year in the American west for a mix of business/pleasure. I choose to spend half of that time in the Gallatin NF and Glacier NP simply because they are my favorite two places in the world.

              I see a tremendous amount of incredible landscape, and run into all sorts of “interesting” folks.

        • avatar Savebears says:

          Salle,

          There is no problem, except, you advocate for Mike to have his opinion, and degrade those that have another opinion, in the big picture neither side wins. Have I said degrading things? yes, I have, have you and Mike and other made degrading comments to those of us that hunt? Yes, so we are even in our degrading. You may not like it, but as long as hunting is legal, our opinions count just as yours and Mikes does, are we going to take cheap shots? Yes we all are when the moment strikes.

          As far as what George says, I respect his opinion, I don’t however agree with much of what he writes, and I have had numerous conversations with him over the years.
          We are attacking Mike in your opinion, but Mike has done his fair share of attacking of those on the pro hunting side with his childish, derogatory and even racial comments over the years..

          I am sure Mike is a big boy and can fight his own fight.

    • avatar Mike says:

      ++I do not think that it would make any diffence to you if the bullet was an all copper Barnes TTXS going through an animals lungs. Mike does not like hunting with or without lead bullets.++

      I don’t care for hunting anymore (overpopulation, road density, fair chase in a crowded world, etc), but I absolutely detest the use of lead bullets. It’s blatantly irresponsible.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        Christ Mike, get real, don’t care and hate is two entirely different things, you hate hunting, be a man and admit it. Your words betray you, you are a hater of hunting, and it does not matter the method.

        • avatar Mike says:

          Nope, I don’t hate it. I’d shoot deer and elk and whatever else in a survival situation. I used to hunt, and switched when I observed the widespread mentality/actions of not only close friends, but strangers.

          What I do hate is predator speciesism.

        • avatar Rancher Bob says:

          Savesbears
          Remember Mike’s last hunt was driving around with his friends and they were just shooting stuff like owls. If I remember the post correctly. Mike never has known real hunters or real hunting.

          • avatar Mike says:

            Sure I have. And that was a biologist doing that. So go figure (and it wasn’t owls, but woodcocks and grouse).

            I don’t want to turn this into a hunting debate, as there are ethical hunters (few and far between, however).

            Show me a hunter who uses non-lead bullets, who only shoots ungulates and fowl for meat, who supports a diverse ecosystem, and you’ll have an ethical hunter. I hope this is the future of the “sport”. If so, we’re in good shape. But it’s not. And it stinks.

            • avatar Savebears says:

              Mike,

              I don’t use bullets, I believe and support diverse ecosystems, in fact I work for this. I have never shot a trophy, by your definition, I eat what I hunt and I can tell you, I am not alone.

              AS far as the future, none of us can say for sure what the future holds, it is with blogs like this, that allow an open dialog from BOTH sides that things will change.

            • avatar Savebears says:

              By the way Mike as always, you already turned it into a hunting debate, just as you have many times in the past.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Well, it happens since 100% of the anti-wolf mentality comes from hunters and ranchers, and this is a topic about wolves and the behavior of many rural westerners.

            • avatar Savebears says:

              Also you are going to have realize, many rural westerners are part of this country, that is the 100% truth.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Mike, I am not anti wolf, Elk is not anti wolf, WM is not anti wolf, we just happen to look at the situation a completely different way than you do.

            • avatar Rancher Bob says:

              As a rancher and hunter I am also not anti wolf they are just too much fun to hunt. I thought bow hunting for elk was a rush. I know many hunters who have taken to wolf hunting for the challenge. Not what you want to hear but that’s the truth, some of us hunt for food and the challenge.

            • avatar Mike says:

              That’s a heck of a spin job, SB.

            • avatar Savebears says:

              Good night Mike..

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++As a rancher and hunter I am also not anti wolf they are just too much fun to hunt. ++

              Right. You’re not anti-wolf because you’d like to shoot one with a deadly weapon.

            • avatar Harley says:

              Aren’t all weapons pretty much deadly? Was that kinda redundant?

            • avatar Louise Kane says:

              just hunting/killing for the rush
              gross

  27. avatar JEFF E says:

    “I do not want to overstate this analogy”

    That is, of course, exactly what will happen.

    The saliant point, I believe, is the expression of blind hate based on ignorance of the subject matter.

    In both cases.

    • avatar Dan says:

      “the expression of blind hate based on ignorance of the subject matter.”

      +1

      • avatar Salle says:

        Isn’t hatred a product of ignorance?

        • avatar Nancy says:

          “Isn’t hatred a product of ignorance?”

          Yep, totally agree Salle :)

          Bring up just about any kind of wildlife out here in the west, in a conversation and you will usually get an earful of “I hate the way badgers, ground squirrels, gophers, magpies, ravens, coyotes, wolves, lions, bears (oh my) beaver, buffalo, eagles, deer, elk, moose…..interfere with my lifestyle”

          Given what many have to put up with in big cities and the suburbs connected to them – crime, pollution, traffic, politics, overpopulation – you’d think they’d get a clue how fortunate they are to live where they do and count their fricken blessings.

          A driveby shooting or a home invasion seems a lot more troubling (to me anyway) than a wayward bear, wolf or the deer and elk, that find my yard interesting, certain times of the year.

  28. avatar Ben Schoppe says:

    What dichotomy. In this thread people are praising the idea of surgical removal of wolves (individual or pack). While the Washington State wolf pack article is criticizing the surgical removal of a wolf pack.

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey