Wolves, one of the most beautiful and despised species of wild life in the west. What a shame. Barely off the endangered species list, they are now to be hunted and killed.
Tags went on sale this past week. The harvest, state wide is aimed at 220 out of a population of 1000. One thousand tags were sold the first day. Fish and Game officials estimate as many 70,000 hunters will get wolf tags. Wow. What a controversy this has stirred up and with good reason. Animal rights groups think it's unnecessary slaughter and wildlife management groups feel it's necessary. I think each side has valid points.
I remember sitting in the bar of the Wort Hotel in Jackson, Wyoming with Hub on a Saturday night. Next to us was a duded up cowboy in town for some fun. A a table near by sat another. They were range riders, men who live in and roam the far reaches of ranches to watch over the herds. They started talking about a wolf problem that was plaguing local ranches. Their descriptions were disturbingly vivid, for our benefit, I'm sure. Yet I understand. Ranchers have thousands of dollars tied up in cattle or sheep and their losses go far beyond a kill; it's the market value of that kill.
Another issue, more difficult to judge is what they do to the elk and deer populations in the wild. If they are decimating those herds it is of concern. If it means trophy hunters have less to choose from, I could care less.
The Loop by Nicholas Evans, a one time New York Times best seller, sums up the issue from both points of view in a great novel. If you have interest in the subject, it's worth a read.
A few years ago when I was doing a "Flat Jessie" project for my great niece, I took her paper self visit Wolf People , an organization dedicated to educating people about these beautiful animals. While we visited their retail outlet where they rotate wolves from their pack for the public to get a glimpse, they also have a compound with a pack for study purposes. It's worth the visit for educating oneself.
What worries me is the number. Seventy thousand potential hunters looking for 220 wolves. You don't eat wolf. It strikes me as being blood lust. Can it be controlled out in the wild or are far more wolves going to be taken. Yes, they are not the easiest of prey to locate, but with 70,000 hunters off roading through the wilderness, they will be found.
On the other hand, people's livelihoods can be decimated by roving packs. There is no easy answer. How would those suffering losses be adequately compensated and by whom?
I only wish there were a way to control them other than killing them.