By Brenda Peterson
The federal government's proposed delisting of the wild wolf is an environmental regression, not only for the wolves, but also for next generations--who in the future may only see a CGI wolf in films, not loping wild through our forests. News of the federal abandonment of wolf protection is a haunting reminder of the devastating war against the wolves waged in earlier centuries. Before federal protection, wolves were hunted to extinction: by airplanes in Alaska, poisoned, trapped, and shot on sight throughout the West. As a New York Times op-ed asks, "Have we brought back wolves for the sole purpose of hunting them down?" Here's a reminder of the unsustainable, anti-wolf culture that we'll revert to, if we allow this proposed delisting to stand.
In 1993, I was in the Far North, reporting on the Alaska Wolf Summit and the aerial shooting of radio-collared wolves. One of the wildlife managers advised me, "Take off your press badge." Another advised, "Come see how we really manage endangered species up here--in the what's left of the Wild West."
In a Last Frontier hotel bar adorned with deer and elk trophies, I silently observed a small but very powerful group of Alaska's Board of Game and U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials swaping hunting stories and ridiculing the Summit protesters for their signs: "Don't Kill Wolves on our Public Lands!" and "Respect the Wolf!"
Without my press badge in that Fairbanks bar, I was, invisible--after all, only a woman. The real world of federal and stage wildlife management is dominated by men with deep ties to hunting, ranching, and agribusiness. In many Western States, hunting licenses fund most of the wildlife programs--a conflict of interest so obvious, but rarely reported. Some federal and state wildlife managers only grudgingly admit scientists to their inner circles because of the Endangered Species Act. Their fervor that night was reserved for talk of "wolf harvests" and "caribou calf crops," of "lethal management," and "sustainable yield" to assure higher populations of big game for hunters. More....