Cry for the Wolf

Written By: Tipsy Table - Oct• 23•14

Last week was the National Humane Education Society’s Wolf Awareness Week. NHES is a compassionate organization that has designated days, weeks and months of thoughtful attention to the humane treatment of animals. This group also selects October as “Appreciate Vegetables Month.” How can one go wrong with that?

White wolfThe twelve founding principles of the organization focus on opposing cruelty to animals in fighting sports, trapping, and unnecessary hunting, while also reducing overpopulation through sterilization, rescue and shelter, and even advises on best practices for euthanizing. They sum up well with their principle 12:

  1. To recognize in animals their capacity for friendship and their need of friends. To befriend all Earth’s creatures, of the land, the sea and the air; to defend them against ravages by mankind; and to inspire in human beings compassion for all.

From the NHES posting: “This year, National Wolf Awareness Week (October 12-18) is especially important as lawmakers struggle over the fate of wolves in the northern Rockies.”

NHES inspires us this season when hunting and trapping are considered some kind of constitutional right, even so codified in some states such as Idaho. The State of Idaho’s House Joint Resolution 2AA and related legislation supported a constitutional amendment to protect “the right of every person in Idaho to hunt, fish and trap.” Don’t neglect that last word “trap.” It appears these legislators neglect to read NHES principles “3. To strive to abolish cruel trapping” and “4. To discourage hunting, especially as a sport.”

In this poor state of Idaho affairs, the few remaining wolves are getting lots of attention. From the Governor down through the ranks, a slaughter of hunters in their faux military camouflage outfits, with high-powered assault rifles sardine into their fume- spewing, off-road vehicles and, with a tipple or two of manly Bourbon, set out to trash the environment and hopefully kill something, almost anything, in order to rid the region of the despised wolves. Sadly, that is less an exaggeration than it should be. It doesn’t even approach a characterization. It is all too real.

Tipsy Table heartily endorses the recognition of this National Wolf Awareness Week and we are enthusiastic to join in with the small but determined group in this least educated of states to say “we appreciate the wolf.” Our library includes wonderful and beautifully illustrated books on wolves by naturalists including Barry Lopez and Farley Mowat. In the Sawtooth Range of Idaho, Jim Dutcher has published meaningful research, lived near wolf packs, and produced informative videos. We see these books on coffee tables of friends and acquaintances, so we do know some in this valley understand and appreciate these wild animals. Why then has, throughout western history, the wolf been a target for exploitation, literally and figuratively?

The wolf is, for a variety of reasons, the Rodney Dangerfield of wild animals. It does not get the respect it deserves as a key agent in environmental balance. Schools in Minnesota teach a course in animal ecology that explains the role of wolves as top predators in the boreal balance, carefully illustrating how the wolf keeps animal populations in a sustainable balance. Perhaps it is a good time to include this course format in all schools, or at least those in states that still have a science curriculum.

Throughout past decades, even while packs were being eliminated in all regions of the country, traveling exhibits on wolves attracted large crowds at museums and community centers everywhere. We are certain that if there were a national election, wolves would defeat wolf killers by a landslide. Yet, what has occurred is another instance of the well armed minority destroying wildlife. We find this beautiful animal hunted, trapped, poisoned, and killed for no good reason other than a fictionalized justification.

Hungry Wolf 2The big bad wolf, the wolf man, and vampire-like folklore, mischaracterize Canis lupus as an orange-eyed, bloodthirsty, ravenous threat to the village. This fantasy played well into the competition early hunters and trappers felt in this country. The wolf pelt was prized as much for its trophy as its warmth. Earlier this year, the State of Idaho hired snipers in helicopters to kill seven wolves in the Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness Area. Currently hunters in Salmon ID are petitioning to hold a Wolf and Coyote Killing Derby, on public lands, held over three days each January for the next five years.   As human hunter and trapper prevail in the wild, we can be sure the ecological balance will be disrupted, and it has. Oh, and don’t forget that Idaho, a state strapped for funding public education, somehow found money in the budget to hire these sharpshooters.

In Idaho, these intelligent wild animals are blamed for everything from cattle predation, to kidnapping and eating of children, even to the occasional loss by the Boise State University football team. If the weather is bad or the stock market is down, well, blame it on the wolves. Forget the fact that these animals have solid family values and there are few (if any) same-sex marriages, just consider that they are rampaging everywhere and must be killed. So, we say, hey, stop a moment, think about these beautiful creatures of the wild, and Cry for the Wolf.cry wolf 3

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