A Divide as Wolves Rebound in a Changing West. New York Times. By Kirk Johnson
The New York Times article today writes of how the West has changed since wolves were introduced 13 years ago with an influx of people who do not have the old fashioned ideas about wolves and are more likely to value them.
This is true, but the article neglects to analyze how the political systems of Idaho and Wyoming are fossilized, even going backwards in terms of wildlife management.
Cultural attitudes are important, but in terms of policy they are not very relevant unless they are also translated into political attitudes and these political attitudes then organized into a group or groups. Everyday politics is the clash of groups. Group organization to maintain wolf restoration hasn’t happened. As a result, the stockgrowers associations can ignore the attitudes of almost all the citizens of their states. They can even be unpleasant about it, and nothing will happen.
Idaho and Wyoming wolf management plans were written to appease a few minorities, even to appease certain individual stockgrowers. In unrepresentative political systems this should not surprise us, but it certainly should be recognized.
One thing that can be done is suggested by the article — private action. It is likely that those who have purchased large and/or critical parcels of land may keep hunters, and more importantly government agents from using their land as access or entering their land. We many see this play out soon regarding bison, the new owners of much of Horse Butte and the Montana Department of Livestock’s annual bison harassment/killing farce.
Eventually the old order will make a serious error, it will get the attention of those who can organize groups, and the unrepresentative old order will be vulnerable.