This is something that I really wanted to write about. Recently, a federal judge passed a ruling that relisted the gray wolf as an endangered species, effectively bringing and end to the wolf hunts here in Michigan, as well as in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
It should be obvious from this blog where my loyalties lie in this regard. I am… overjoyed. This is a huge win for wolves.
In some way, I am really happy the fed stepped in to resolve this matter. At the same time, I feel a little conflicted on the matter. On some level, I am a person that believes that local matters should be settled locally. I am a little on the fence about the fed stepping in to tell us how things should be done. However, that being said, it is frankly obvious to me that the state of Michigan was incapable of handling this matter. Our legislature ignored the will of the people on several occasions and even mooted two ballot questions, both of which passed with large margins against the wolf hunts and the power grab by the Natural Resources Commission. In addition, this is a multi-state issue, which falls within the federal purview.
At the same time, this judgment negates several state laws, one of which allows pet and livestock owners to use lethal means against wolves caught in the act of depredation. This is another thing I am on the fence about. Let me be very clear, I am against killing wolves generally. I am strongly against the hunting of wolves, as I had made clear on several occasions. At the same time, I am for coexistence as well. Both wolf and human concerns need to be taken into account. I have to wonder if the same judgment that protected the wolves against the hunts has also robbed farmers, ranchers and pet owners of a useful tool?
Granted, they still have the use of plenty of non-lethal methods that have been proven effective, fences, guard animals, as well as a support net of state-based compensation for lost animals.
The more I think about, the more I want to explore the issue in more depth. It is my opinion that humans have become arrogant. We think we are masters of the planet, and human concerns almost always trump the concerns of biodiversity, or the well being of other beings. Just as an example, a few of the post I saw on Facebook and other places concerning this judgment. More than a few of them made me sick.
As a sampling, I read everything from “the wolves are killing all the deer”, which is flat out false. There are many factors involved in the state of the deer populations, the largest of which are human-caused. Car collisions and human hunting, along with things like starvation, exposure (last winter was a brutal one) and predation. Also, since when did deer belong to human hunters alone? Wolves need to eat too. As well as the countless other species that wolves feed indirectly, scavengers and decomposers.
It only gets worse from there. The most sickening of comments advocated for either poaching, often exemplified by what is often referred to as The 3 “S’s”. Shoot, shovel, and shut up. As in kill the animals, bury them, and don’t talk about it. That is despicable. From both an ethical as well as a legal standpoint.
The worst offenders, however, advocated straight up extinction. As in, wolves need to be eradicated. This is a tough one to stay level-headed about. It angers me at a deep primal level. If the target was humans, this would be considered genocide and cold blooded murder. But, wolves are animals, not people right? WRONG. Oh so wrong. Animals are people. Non-human people, sure, but they have as much right to exist as we do. The amount of ignorance, heartlessness, and just plain stupidity of such a statement is more than words can describe. What’s worse, many of these people consider themselves hunters. It makes me ashamed to carry the title. Hell, it makes me ashamed to call myself human.
Let me be clear, THAT IS NOT OK.
In fact, that kind of thinking is the reason wolves, as well as many other species, are on the endangered species list to begin with.
Existence is not just a human right, but the right of all living things. We are part of nature, not above it or outside of it. We need to take a good long look at the way we are doing things. The gray wolf is only one of countless species we have nearly pushed to extinction. That is not an error I wish to see repeated. Hell, countless species are going extinct every day because humans cannot get our shit together. It is really time to rethink the way we do things, if there is still time.
What I am advocating here is a balanced coexistence. Wholesale eradication of a species is not an option, nor should it be. Neither should be arbitrary, and pointless hunts. The concerns of all parties need to be considered, and not just from an anthropocentric point of view. Wolves have as much as a right to exist as humans do. Their ecological role as a keystone predator is immense. At the same time, human concerns need to be addressed as well. Depredation is a concern, especially for those that earn a living from livestock. Ranchers, farmers and pet owners have the right to protect their livelihoods as well.
So, let’s find a balanced approach, one that allows the coexistence of BOTH species.