My Special Pleading : A Wolf Is Killed in Montana

Full disclosure: This is about a non-political issue that arouses my special passion, Doesn’t mean it isn’t an important issue, or that few others share my viewpoint. I probably have many allies. Just wanted my position to be clear.

On November 30, The New York Times reported the following:

A Famous Alpha Wolf’s Daughter, Spitfire, Is Killed by a Hunter
“The shooting of another Lamar Canyon pack member has renewed calls for a buffer between Yellowstone Park and nearby lands, to protect roaming wolves.” Excerpts:

  • A wild wolf known as 926F, dear to the hearts of wolf watchers who visit Yellowstone, was killed by a hunter as it wandered just outside the park last weekend.
  • A member of the Lamar Canyon pack in the national park’s northeast region, 926F was the daughter of 832F, an alpha female that had become a celebrity, famous for her hunting prowess and for her frequent appearances along the road traveled by tourists in the park’s Lamar Valley.
  • While wolf biologists called the mother 832F, the she-wolf was famously known as “06” for the year she was born. The subject of the book “American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West,” by Nate Blakeslee, she was killed by a hunter as well.

This hit me in the solar plexus, since I had just finished reading the book, and the death of “06” was fresh in my mind. The book eloquently tells the story of the re-introduction of the nearly-extinct wolves to Yellowstone in the mid-1990s, their lives afterward, and the humans whose lives they have touched. Plus, it examines the in-human war waged by the citizens of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho to have unfettered right to kill the wolves. Imagine, people willing to wage massive court cases to be able to kill a defenseless animal.

My first comment on the NYT report:

A noble life is snuffed out by an ignoble one. Spitfire’s life was worth infinitely more than the life of the redneck Montana cowboy who killed her. Killing defenseless wolves is not a sport. It’s an act of cowardice committed by one of life’s losers seeking desperately to give some meaning to a meaningless life.

There is, I believe, a federal government-sponsored program that hires professional hunters to seek out and kill wolves that are known to be harming livestock. There is no need to allow these lone-wolf “hunters” to randomly kill some wolf just because the wolf has wandered outside the park boundaries.

The world would be a better place if we eradicated the hunters instead of the wolves. What ecological benefit are these hunters providing equal to what the wolves provide?

More Comments for the Interested
  • The answer is federal law. Remember: federal regulations already provide whatever protection for the wolves exists. Federal action returned the wolves to Yellowstone, and for years severely limited the killing of wolves outside the park. The problem: Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho have waged a mighty campaign to return regulation to the states, or at least severely limit federal intervention. Unfortunately, the states–and Montana in particular–have mainly won the last court cases.
  • A travesty that the law gives the killer legal license to kill. How revolting that this atrocity continues so a handful of no-life Montana red necks can make themselves feel all-powerful by stepping out of their trucks and killing a wolf with a high-powered rifle. The law should and must be changed. It’s time to relegate the Old West to John Wayne movies and pass laws to bring civilization to Montana.
  • Hope no one buys the Big Lie that wolves pose a threat to humans and livestock. Remember, much of that land outside Yellowstone Park, into which the wolves wander and are killed, is federally-owned land that cattlemen are allowed to use for grazing for a nominal fee. Time to ban the cattle, not the wolves. Americans already eat too much red meat.
  • Maybe we subsidize the building of a few more honky-tonk strip joints in Montana, to give the cowboys a way to show their manhood without having to kill wolves.
  • Eradicate the hunters, not the wolves. Maybe we could pay a bounty for each hunter’s scalp? Heh, heh. Just kidding, folks, just kidding. DO NOT TAKE A HUNTER’S SCALP. Even if he’s your brother-in-law. Just be prepared to outvote them.

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