Wuerthner: Wolf Restoration is a Challenge to West’s Old Guard

Anti-Wolfer’s Success In An End-Run Delisting of Wolves MUST Ultimately Backfire

George Wuerthner wrote this now apt essay over a year ago, published in New West last September, suggesting that should anti-wolf interests succeed in delisting wolves and fail to exercise restraint in killing wolves that it would ultimately backfire.

Wolf Restoration is a Challenge to West’s Old Guard – George Wuerthner – NewWest.net

Demographically the country is changing to a more diverse racial, religious and age structure.  The majority of Americans who do not hunt only accept hunting if they believe the hunter is killing an animal to eat it. Public support for hunting declines rapidly if hunters kill animals for trophy mounts. When it comes to shooting an animal just to kill it as would be the case for hunters shooting wolves—and/or worse as a matter of vindication as in predator control, public support turns to public opposition.

Similarly, without the ESA ‘hook’ extending legal protection for wolves, some of the last, best remaining legal angles to protect wolves will be in preventing conflict with livestock on public lands that is ultimately responsible for government trapping and slaughter of entire packs of wolves.

Increased public scrutiny over public lands ranching at the land-use level – demanding that ranchers implement preventative measures as a condition of permit to use public lands to graze cattle and sheep is one tangible avenue wolf-advocates might pursue to accomplish wolf protections.

One thing is for sure – if wolves are to persist on the landscape in the ecologically relevant numbers that advocates have been promoting for years, outrage over the wanton slaughter of wolves must be felt by those responsible.

44 Responses to “Wuerthner: Wolf Restoration is a Challenge to West’s Old Guard”

  1. Linda Hunter Says:

    A well written article. I hope he is dead spot on. . pun intended.

  2. Ralph Maughan Says:

    I think the politicians primarily responsible for this will go down in history in a very negative way. They might get reelected for one reason or another, but ten years from now no one who writes serious material will have anything positive to say about those who were stampeded to wipe out an animal that had neither killed or even attacked anyone, and which killed a relatively very tiny number of livestock.

    We can see why the wolf was wiped out in the 1890s period because wolves were artificially abundant then and people relied on range fed livestock, but today there is no excuse like that. In addition, we have the benefit of a great amount of knowledge that they did not have.

    • Salle Says:

      Problem is, too many don’t want the wealth of information. There seems to be a pattern with these “zealot-baggers” who can’t even entertain the idea of science being valid, it makes their self-fulfilling-prophecies look as ridiculous as they actually are. Can’t have that, it’s too much to think that they could be wrong… after all, god supposedly “talks” to them and tells them what to do and whom to hate, even specific wildlife species. Science goes beyond that and it’s just too far for them to reach… better to have that rapture thing. The only problem with that is the part where everybody else has to die before they can have it their utopian way.

      If you don’t allow science to inform the potential drones, you can get there faster and with less fuss from the “unrapturable” masses. That’s why I think they strive to deny science.

    • Harley Says:

      Ralph, what do you mean by artificially abundant? I’ve never heard that phrase before attached to wolves.

    • SBH CLAY Says:

      You might enjoy reading the wise words of pro-wolf ethicist William Lynn here: http://www.CreatureQuotes.com, Chapter 25, pages 21-24.

  3. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Harley,

    The slaughter of native wildlife, bison, elk, deer to feed mining camps, new towns, farmers, and starve Native Americans had increased the wolf population above its usual level. As cattle and sheep replaced wildlfie, the wolves had a replacement souce of food. So lots of wolves were around (at least for a while) to go after the millions of new cattle and sheep.

    Folks may recall from history that the Western range was grossly overstocked with livestock, and it sustained great damage from which it has only partly recovered in a period of only 20-30 years. By 1900, any kind of large ungulate wildlife was rare in many parts of the West. The creation of Yellowstone Park was the main reason why elk have recovered. It was the source of most of the first restored herds around the West.

    None of this is the case today.

    • Harley Says:

      Oh! thanks Ralph! Yes that makes sense then, that term.
      What is your take on Isle Royale? Do you think they should bring in new blood? I know you have a thread for that somewhere lol but I figured since I have you here, I’m curious! I’m not sure how I feel about it. It would be nice to keep wolves there on the island but can the moose handle it, they are down in numbers too. A fascinating study!

    • JB Says:

      It is also instructive to recall that in 1903/4, 20 years after bison were functionally extinct in Montana, more than 4,000 wolves were turned in for bounty in that state alone.

  4. Rita K.Sharpe Says:

    Yes,in deed, well written.

  5. Savebears Says:

    We all can speculate on what the future will hold, but it is just that, speculation..

    I do agree that this is far bigger than the wolf..there are many underlying issues at hand.

    • White Wolf Says:

      Savebears, the issues are as complex and diverse as people themselves. Wolves are caught up in the struggles of obstinate beliefs….social, cultural, economic, and political. And we defend them with all the passion within us. Their symbolism creates opportunities to strike back against what we vehemently oppose …..and they have suffered unspeakable horrors as a result.

      • Savebears Says:

        Ok, and your point?

        I simply call them as I see them, the wolf is not the issue, they are simply the point man between the Fed’s and the States. Myself, I am not taking a side in this at all, the issues are far bigger….than just the wolf.

  6. Wolfy Says:

    The Old Guard has failed the people of the west. To continue on as if there were an endless supply of wildlife, timber, water, and land without regard to sustainability is foolish. Yet, policy after policy set forth by the Old Guard does exactly that. And the failed politics are blamed on wolves and environmetnalists. The West will run out of water long before it runs out of people. Who will they blame then? Illegal aliens?

  7. White Wolf Says:

    Savebears, I was agreeing with you, I addressed you since your words are very true. I am calling it as I see it too. I am not looking to argue with anyone.

  8. rtobasco Says:

    Savebears:

    By holding your tongue, you’re obviously a wiser man than I. You are right, there are bigger issues at play. I must admit to a nostalgic bias that longs for the “good old days” of pre-environmentalist activism. Being a baby boomer, I feel more connected to a time when there did not exist issues of state’s rights vs federal control. Logging was a prevalent practice which resulted in improved big game habitat, nobody owned ATV’s, hunting was generally pretty darn good and we didn’t have to put up much with folks from other parts of the country wanting to impose their will on Montana, Idaho and the rest of the west. However, going back in time is not an option – so here we are. I have never favored the reintroduction of wolves. They were not endangered. One just had to go to other places to find them. As is typical of our meddling, we’ve spent far to much money and manpower in trying fix what wasn’t broken. They were already here, albeit in much smaller numbers, but it was inevitable that they would one day reach a crirtical mass where populations would begin to grow at faster rates. But here we are. Senseless for me to resist most changes such as these. But they are wolves are now and I accept that – now lets get on with it and manage the wolf population effectively.

    Having confessed, I don’t see much point in Wuerthner’s article being reprinted on here, other than to keep stoking the fires of controversy. Montana and Idaho don’t want the Feds involved in wolf management and the best way to insure that is to maintain a viable population of wolves. This latest move is just another step in the process. I wish we could have gotten to this point via a true agreement between parties on both sides, but from my perspective wolf advocates have been at least as unwilling to agree as they accuse their adversaries of being. The wolf isn’t going anywhere. I have confidence that the Montana and Idaho will prove themselves to be credible managers of the wolf population and that the hysteria that has been prevalent among either side will soon calm down (for the most part). Their will always be outspoken zealots on both sides of this issue. Time will trivialize their arguments.

    • SBH CLAY Says:

      I don’t think any member of a race, nation, religion, culture or species that is crushed underfoot by their supposed superiors — kidnapped, enslaved, confined, tortured, killed — minds having “zealots” in their corner.

      If I were a wolf, I would want pro-wolf “zealots” fighting for my right to live in freedom in my own habitat with my own family.

      Those who are pro-wolf have no self-interest at stake. Their motives are pure. I wish there were more such compassionate “zealots” in this world.

    • Mike Says:

      Funny that the locals don’t seem to complain much when the feds “impose” their will of $5 billion in ranching and farming welfare funds since 1995 to the state of Montana alone.

      • Savebears Says:

        Except for those locals that have been trying to get public land grazing revamped or stopped!

      • STG Says:

        Mike, you got it! What hypocrisy.

      • WM Says:

        Mike,

        Of course to be fair in such an assertion you should disclose that, the states of TX received over five times that amount at $23B, IA at $21B, and your home state of IL at nearly $18B, in crop subsidies for the same time period – every state gets money back, and lots of it. “Welfare” ranching or farming is not a phenomenon exclusive to the West.

        The ridiculously high animal density, with subsidized low grazing fees on public lands in the West at $1.34/animal unit month from early summer to fall, while destroying the landscape, including riparian habitat, is yet a different matter and should be separately accounted for.

  9. Nancy Says:

    +hunting was generally pretty darn good and we didn’t have to put up much with folks from other parts of the country wanting to impose their will on Montana, Idaho and the rest of the west+
    ry”
    Rtobasco- I’m sure there are many Native Americans out there with the same thoughts but……… arrogant, dominating and greedy people “from other parts of the country” had no problem impossing their will.

    +They (wolves) were already here, albeit in much smaller numbers, but it was inevitable that they would one day reach a crirtical mass where populations would begin to grow at faster rates+

    In over a half century that hasn’t happened though right? Why do you suppose that is if they were already here? Afterall, a small number of reintroduced wolves had no problem reaching that “hysterical” critical mass in 15 years.

    • Immer Treue Says:

      Nancy

      +They (wolves) were already here, albeit in much smaller numbers, but it was inevitable that they would one day reach a crirtical mass where populations would begin to grow at faster rates+

      In over a half century that hasn’t happened though right? Why do you suppose that is if they were already here? Afterall, a small number of reintroduced wolves had no problem reaching that “hysterical” critical mass in 15 years.

      Exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      This is the weak link in Ubrigkit’s book Wolves of Yellowstone

  10. Steve C Says:

    These backwards hillbillies can only fight changing demographics for so long.

    • Elk275 Says:

      Whether they are backward hillbillies or not, 65% of the land in Montana is privately owned. Some ranchers own over 100,000 acres, I do not think that anyone who owns thousands and thousands of acres is a backward hillbilly, they might have different thinking than you. It takes intelligences to own and manage that amount of land. I have learn to never underestimate anyone; the one you underestimate will be the one that you are depending upon.

      • Daniel Berg Says:

        Just because you own a lot of land, doesn’t mean you’re intelligent. You can own thousands of acres and be an idiot. It’s called inheritance. For those who don’t inherit, they might just be good at a couple of specific things. I’ve met more than my fair share of millionaires who are brilliant at a couple of things and completely dense with everything else.

      • Savebears Says:

        The key is, it don’t matter how dense or dumb they are, they still own the land as long as they pay the taxes on it..

      • Daniel Berg Says:

        I’ve got no problems with them owning the land.

        I only disagree that everyone who owns large acreages is broadly intelligent.

      • Savebears Says:

        Nope they are not, I know some pretty dense people that own a hell of allot of land!

        LOL

      • wolf moderate Says:

        There is a lot of overhead when owning vast tracts of land. You have to manage personnel, equipment, taxes, apply for lucrative subsidies, etc…

        If the inheritor is an idiot, he won’t be keeping the place long. Too much overhead to run the operations poorly IMO.

      • Elk275 Says:

        ++who are brilliant at a couple of things and completely dense with everything else.++

        If you looked at yourself in the mirror you would see that the above statement applies to YOU, and if I looked myself in the mirror it would apply to ME and if Save Bears looks at himself in the mirror it would apply to HIM.

        I have a hard time with posters on this forum who dislike land owners who have a different idea on how to use their land vs. how you think there land should be used.

        It is time to get use to it, they own the land and we do not. If we want to own the land then one should work at a enterprize that will make the money to purchase land. It is the American way.

      • Steve C Says:

        They landowners may not be but the state politicians sure are.

      • Savebears Says:

        Boy Elk,

        You sure have that right, there are far more things I am dense at than I am good at…LOL!

      • Daniel Berg Says:

        ELK275 –

        If you’re insinuating that I’m anti-private property because I’m making the claim that not all large acreage owners are intelligent, you’re mistaken. I’ve got no problem with one man or woman who owns thousands of acres.

        My opinion on certain issues relating to private property rights continues to develop over time as I learn more about what consequences any given particular use of that land can have on the surrounding environment.

        ++If you looked at yourself in the mirror you would see that the above statement applies to YOU++

        You’re also mistaken on this one because I do not know of any one particular thing I’m brilliant at. Hopefully time will uncover some hidden vein though!

      • Steve C Says:

        Why does everyone always get so defensive about private property? Bringing up private property whenever someone has a problem with activities on public lands is another tool of distraction. Nobody here has a problem with people doing what they want on their own property. It is when they are using public lands that we all (rightly) take issue.

      • Elk275 Says:

        The biggest danger to wildlife and the environment is the division of a large parcel of land into a smaller parcel. Then that small parcel being redivided into smaller parcels.

      • Brian Ertz Says:

        Elk275 says:

        The biggest danger to wildlife and the environment is the division of a large parcel of land into a smaller parcel. Then that small parcel being redivided into smaller parcels.

        i respectfully disagree. the biggest danger to wildlife and the environment is that the accumulation of private property manifests as greater political influence with how wildlife and the environment are managed as a result of property holdings.

      • WM Says:

        Brian,

        SB is correct.

        Resources for the Future (Washington DC think tank), which has studied land use conversion over the last hundred plus years has a different conclusion. It is conversion of land by continued subdivision, roads, urban uses, carving up drainages, appropriating water and everything that goes with higher densities of humans and their activities that converts and consumes land that affects wildlife, air, watersheds, and provides the avenues for agricultural chemicals and other pollutants do bad things.

  11. Mike Says:

    ++It takes intelligences to own and manage that amount of land.++

    Not really. All it takes is being born into the right family.

  12. Mike Says:

    Right but we’re not talking about them, we’re talking about ranchers.

    • Savebears Says:

      And the difference is? Wealth in the country is defined many different ways..if you own a lot of land, you are wealthy and it don’t matter if you ranch it or not..

    • Elk275 Says:

      Do you have a problem with a 3rd generation rancher who is taking over the family ranch? I do not. Eventually what happens is that there becomes children, grandchildren and great grandchildren all who now have an inherit right and either someone has to buy out the others or the ranch is sold and each person is paid off. The person who purchases the ranch is now out of state money and may hire a family member to run the outfit. Here is your chance Mike to own your own Montana ranch. I happen every day.

      • Mike Says:

        You keep changing the goal posts. My comment was directed at your comment about intelligence and owning/managing land. You’ve tried to turn this into two different issues now. Next thing I know you’re going to ask me why I don’t like Disney World.


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