Idaho is going to kill 90% of the state’s wolves. That’s a tragedy – and bad policy

Idaho is going to kill 90% of the state’s wolves. That’s a tragedy – and bad policy

Idaho, Idaho is going to kill 90% of the state’s wolves. That’s a tragedy – and bad policy, Harbouchanews

Nothing embodies wildness like wolves, our four-legged shadow, the dogs that long ago refused our campfire and today prefer freedom and risk over the soft sofa and short leash. The dogs that howl more than bark, add music to the land, and – if left alone to work their magic – make entire ecosystems healthy and whole.

Witness Yellowstone, a national park reborn in the 1990s when wolves, absent for 70 years, were reintroduced. Everything changed for the better.

Elk stopped standing around like feedlot cattle. They learned to run like the wind again. Streamside willows and other riparian vegetation, previously trampled by the elk, returned as well, and with it, a chorus of birds. All because of wolves.

Yet in the state of Idaho, new legislation signed days ago by Governor Brad Little will allow professional hunters and trappers to use helicopters, snowmobiles, ATVs, night vision equipment, snares and other means to kill roughly 90% of the state’s wolves, knocking them down from an estimated 1,500 to 150. A group of retired state, federal and tribal wildlife managers wrote to Little asking him to veto the wolf kill bill, saying statewide livestock losses to wolves have been under 1% for cattle and 3% for sheep. The group further noted that the overall elk population has actually increased since wolves were reintroduced into Idaho more than two decades ago. It made no difference.

Why exterminate the wolves? To make the country safe for cattle and sheep; more productive for deer, elk, caribou and moose. To better fill hunters’ freezers with winter meat. To sell the pelts.

But there’s something more. Something nobody talks about.

“The wolf exerts a powerful influence on the human imagination,” wrote the nature writer Barry Lopez in Of Wolves and Men. “It takes your stare and turns it back on you.”

Maybe the wolf, freer than you or I will ever be, reminds us too much of our own self-domestication. That in a rush to create a stable environment, we’ve put ourselves in stables, and that paradox haunts people who see wolves as something to be feared, hated, destroyed.

America’s demonization and slaughter of wolves has been going on for centuries – fed by myths, fairytales, Disney films and more – and continues today, full throttle from Wisconsin to Idaho to Alaska. This is our true forever war – the war on Nature, specifically on wildness and its sinister poster child. The wolf could be out there right now, sneaking under the barbed wire, stalking our profits.

In November 2020, the Trump administration, as part of its rollback of environmental regulations, ordered the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list. Western ranchers and farmers were pleased; wildlife advocates called the decision “willful ignorance”. EcoWatch reported that the de-listing occurred “despite the enduring precarity of wolf populations throughout much of the country. According to the most recent USFWS data, there are only 108 wolves in Washington state, 158 in Oregon, and 15 in California, while wolves are ‘functionally extinct’ in Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.”

the guardian 

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