The Real Newcomers

The heavily-funded Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is fond of spreading the hype that today’s wolves are Johnny-come-latelies and thus should keep their paws off of theose prized trophy “game” species. But unlike sport hunters, wolf packs play an efficient and necessary part in nature’s narrative—a role that has served both predator and prey for eons.

Like rightful kings returning from exile, wolves are far from new to the Yellowstone ecosystem. Their 71-year absence was the result of a heartless bounty set by the real newcomers to the fine-tuned system of checks and balances that has regulated itself since life began.

New to the scene are cowboys on four-wheelers with their monoculture crop of cows and ubiquitous barbed-wire fences. New are pack trains of hunters resentful of any competition from lowly canines, yet eager to take trophies of wolf pelts, leaving the unpalatable meat to rot. And new is the notion that humankind can replace nature’s time-tested order with so-called wildlife “management,” a regime that has never managed to prove itself worthy.

Unmatched manipulators, modern humans with their pharmacies, hospitals, churches, strip malls, sporting goods stores, burger joints and fried chicken franchises have moved so far beyond the natural order that population constraints, such as disease or starvation, are no longer a threat to the species’ survival (as long as society continues to function). Hunting is no longer motivated by hunger. Twenty-first century sport hunters are never without a full belly, even after investing tens of thousands of dollars on brand-new 4X4 pickups, motorboats, RVs and of course the latest high-tech weaponry.

But wolves can’t afford to be acquisitive; if they run low on resources, they must move on or perish. Theirs is a precarious struggle, without creature comforts or false hopes of life everlasting.

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The preceding was an excerpt from my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport

Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson

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