The war on wolves
September 23, 2012
Lengthen the distance from endangered species to Ready, Aim, Fire.
The predator is canny, relentless and swarms in killer packs. It lives and loves to hunt whatever it desires, typically dropping prey animals in their tracks. The predator attacks without warning, preferably giving victims no chance to defend themselves. Unfortunately, it often pays little heed to whether it’s driving those it kills toward extinction.
The predator we’re discussing, of course, is homo sapiens, the species of human that for thousands of years has variously domesticated, admired and exterminated different types of wolves around much of planet Earth. This autumn that complex relationship, man and wolf, takes a lethal new turn in parts of the American Midwest: Wisconsin and Minnesota have scheduled wolf hunting seasons — even as animal welfare and wildlife groups seek legal interventions that would protect the vulnerable prey from the better-armed predator.
Four decades ago federal authorities rated gray wolves, this continent’s most numerous variety, as endangered — but not before hunters and livestock growers reduced their numbers to several hundred in the 48 contiguous states. Today that population is about 6,000, plus a larger number in Alaska. The Obama administration has declared the gray wolf fully recovered; next week, Wyoming becomes the fifth state with a sizable wolf census to legalize hunts.
How could the feds tolerate the hunting of an ecologically important creature that, by the mid-1900s, was hunted almost to oblivion? “… if you look at the Endangered Species Act,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe explained to The Washington Post, “it’s not an animal protection act. It’s a law designed to prevent the extinction of a species.”
That doesn’t mean the rest of us have to accept bare-minimum-survival as the maximum indulgence we’ll extend to a species that has been subject to so much irrational slaughter.
Friends of Animals strongly opposes hunting but otherwise applauds the force of this editorial.
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