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States Look for Creative Ways to Kill Protected Wolves

September 9, 2010

From Change.Org
By Pamela Black

It appears that every possible way to kill wolves is being explored across the United States. Desperate to circumvent the recent rulings that placed gray wolves back on the endangered species list, a number of new proposals are being made by state governments to kill wolves under the guise of management.

Immediately after wolves regained their endangered status, Montana suggested “research” hunts, where they used circular logic to claim wolves needed be hunted to study the effect of hunting wolves. Now, states from Idaho to Michigan look to use aerial hunting, gassing pups in dens, sterilization, as well as the research hunts, to replace the cancellation of public hunting. If you live in a state where wolves live, your tax dollars are funding these control methods.

Sterilization programs are the most humane method of population control proposed, but may be the least popular among wildlife managers since it comes with a hefty price tag and doesn’t allow immediate results of decreased population numbers.

The renewed urgency to kill off wolves lends us the same arguments heard many times before: Wolves kill livestock and big game and therefore need to be managed lethally. It is well known that a variety of other factors (disease, coyotes, bears and dogs to name a few) kill more livestock than wolves, but wolves remain Public Enemy No. 1.

Regardless of any debate over wolf population, these proposals are downright hostile and irresponsible, with a particular focus on aerial hunting in some areas, a brutal method where wolves are chased by aircraft to the point of exhaustion, then gunned down from the air. As we have seen throughout the years in Alaska, aerial hunting has been approved time and time again by politicians even after the public voted against it.

Wolves in the Great Lakes region had an easier road to recovery than their Northern Rocky Mountain counterparts. The theory is that since the Great Lakes wolves returned to the area through natural migration, the public is more accepting of their presence than in the Northern Rocky Mountains where federal relocation programs “forced” wolves upon the people. But the Great Lakes region is no longer playing nice. As part of the new string of proposals, Wisconsin and Michigan now want to kill ten percent of the wolf population in each state.

When there are confirmed wolf killings on livestock, ranchers are reimbursed and the wolves responsible are likely to be shot. But despite programs offered by organizations like Defenders of Wildlife to assist ranchers with property improvements and predator education to coexist with wolves, many ranchers are careless. I’ve heard numerous times how ranchers leave dead cattle in a pile at the back end of the property (an illegal activity in some states). Are wolves at fault for approaching a farm that often produces a free meal?

I’ve studied wolves for years and it still amazes me how much hateful energy is directed at this species. Hunted to extinction in many areas over centuries and depicted as blood-thirsty, human-eating vermin, wolves have taken more than their share of abuse without becoming the demons they are depicted to be. Little Red Riding Hood holds less truth in it than the idea that “duck and cover” will save you from nuclear fallout.

Perhaps if the notion of compassionate conservation was utilized by government agencies, a balance between humans and wolves could exist rather than the steadfast notion of human superiority over all living creatures. Just because we humans have the ability to exploit nature to our satisfaction doesn’t give us the right to do so.

Want to tell your representatives how you feel? Please follow these steps:

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