Wolf Hunters Prefer an Imbalance of Nature

First, a reminder to hunters who might happen upon this blog: please don’t bother commenting in support of your sport. Pro-hunting comments don’t get posted here. There are plenty of other forums for that sort of thing. Though your arguments may be “heartfelt” and well thought out, all pro-kill comments end up in the round file. Readers here have heard you sportsmen’s rationalizations ad nauseum and instinctively know the truth about hunting. Anyone wanting to hear hunter rationalizations can visit any number of sites dedicated to the disemination of hunter propaganda–this is not one of them.

__________________________________

Now back to today’s sermon:

In a recent discussion on wildlife issues with some longtime friends, I felt a little out of place to learn they were all against the reintroduction of wolves to places like Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. No, they weren’t a group of hunters selfishly seeking authority over nonhuman life; these good folks were understandably upset because the wolves are being killed in horrible ways, ever since their removal from the federal endangered species list left them at the mercy of state game department policy makers. While I share their outrage and the urge to end the suffering of wolves, I have to argue that at least the ones “that got away” will go on to fill a gap in biodiversity.

The point of recovering endangered species should be to bring back and/or protect enough diversity to allow nature to function apart from human intervention. The presence of predators like wolves can help to restore a sense of natural order and nullify the claims by hunters that their sport is necessary to keep ungulate populations in check.

Wolves in Yellowstone have been keeping elk on the move enough to allow willows to thrive once again in places like the Lamar Valley. Newly emerging willow thickets in turn provide food and shelter for an array of species, from beavers to songbirds. The loss of each thread of biodiversity brings us one step closer to a mass extinction spasm that would wreak more destruction and animal suffering than the Earth has seen in some 50 million years.

Hunters want their cake and eat it too. Out of one side of their mouth they declare that there are too many elk and that they do the animals a favor by killing them to prevent overgrazing. Yet when wolves spread out and successfully reclaim some of their former territories, hunters resent the competition and call for every brutal tactic imaginable to drive wolves back into the shadows, thereby restoring the imbalance that hunters depend on to justify their exploits.

Now more than ever we need to counter the hunter agenda at every turn, for the sake of a functioning planet. It’s high time to put an end to the notion that wildlife are “property” of the states, to be “managed” as they see fit. The animals of the Earth are autonomous, each having a necessary role in nature. Only human arrogance would suppose it any other way.

 

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30 thoughts on “Wolf Hunters Prefer an Imbalance of Nature

  1. Thank you for such a balanced, thoughtful observation on how so, so wrong the hunters and their “justifications” for hunting truly are. I am truly convinced that most hunters simply do not want elk to behave like elk, as they do in the presence of wolves. They prefer to find elk strolling along the streams, acting like cows, and destroying the eco system while doing so, which is exactly what they did until wolves were reintroduced back in the mid 1990’s. Wildlife indeed are not property of the states in which they happen to reside. Wildlife belongs to all Americans, and should be protected, not treated like vermin. This is the position of most Americans. I just wish more of them would take the responsibility and speak to their members of Congress, rather than leaving it to “somebody else”. It is not enough to just click “like” on a Facebook page, or make a comment on a blog. There is a pro-active need I feel for more involvement to really speak out and speak up. JMHO.

  2. This is a fabulous blog and the article is an excellent read and it speaks the truth.
    Those dumb redneck inbred hunters are a bunch of sadistic blaspheming hypocrites.
    Personally, I’m a vegetarian, and thus, I have no interest in hunting,
    nor conforming to the barbaric ways of the Old West.
    And so, it’s imperative that we do all we can to save and
    protect all that is revered sacred, and that’s our noble wolves and
    other precious wildlife, for they are gifts, our glorious Creator made for us
    to behold and revere with awe and wonder.
    Btw, I love that beauful wolf photo.
    Just looking into the pooch’s eyes, I see love from that beautiful soul.<3

      • My plesasure…
        I’ve been a vegetarian since 1984, mainly for health
        reasons after nearly getting sick to my stomach
        from eating meat fried in grease….Yuk!!!
        That’s when I said “No more…I ain’t eatin’ that junk again”.
        Not only I gave up meat for health reasons,
        but for spiritual reasons as well since animal meat is unclean.
        On the side of health, I find the vegetarian versions
        of burgers, bacon, and the like, have more protein, B-Vitamins,
        and one important element that animal meat
        doesn’t have, and that’s fiber.
        Among other things the vegetarian versions (such as soy, rice, and veggie),
        taste better than animal meat.
        They have the look, texture, and flavor, but it’s all meatless,
        and these products such as tofu, Morningstar Farms, and Boca,
        are excellent in your favorite breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack recipes. :)
        Bon` Appitite`

  3. I have to say I totally “get” the wish that wolves had never been reintroduced. It’s hard not to feel that way sometimes if one genuinely cares about welfare — after all, if these animals had never been born, they would not be suffering from the brutality and slaughter to which they are unrelentingly subjected. I have also had similar thoughts about wild horses — are they better off “managed” to extinction (through contraception and attrition ONLY), since the BLM / cattle industry will NEVER share the range with them and will continue these horrific roundups resulting in injury and death, and ultimately indefinite confinement or slaughter? Like death row dogs in the pound and farmed “production” animals — aren’t they better off never having been born? And when researchers come up with “grand” ideas like reintroducing elephants and camels to this continent, all I can think of is that we would never make room for them (in climates they can tolerate — for elephants, anyway), and ultimately, the hunters will be wanting to “manage” them through the barbarity that they so gleefully impose upon existing wildlife. Yes — hunters ABSOLUTELY depend on an imbalance of nature. Yet most people either don’t recognize this, or don’t seem to have much of a problem with it. It always seems to be justified with “well, wildlife has less room than it used to — it’s unfortunate, but we must “manage” it”. No one seems interested in the idea of striving for balance (minimizing man’s role), or in the concept that it can be achieved even on less real estate. This has been a source of unending frustration for me, and it angers me that none of the big AR groups, with well-oiled systems for campaigns, have taken this on as a mission. I have to think that even some folks who are OK with individual animal suffering might be angered if only they knew the degree of population manipulation undertaken to facilitate recreational killing. The imbalance is absolutely intentional.

    • Yep, the imbalance is intentional, and exploited to the max.
      And the only way anyone in this day and age would bring camels back is on a private game ranch to be hunted. I had a hunter try to tell me they were doing a service for an endangered African antelope (killed to near extinction in its homeland) by raising some on game farms to be shot by trophy hunters.

      • Safari Club International is currently holding an auction for the right to kill a black rhino – one of the most endangered animals on the planet. Get this – they are claiming this will help benefit black rhinos in general!

        And these people are the ones that try to convince us that they are “conservationists”. It’s obscene.

  4. I agree now is the time to combine any and all efforts to promote a national campaign to educate the mass’s of what and how the Fish and Game/Wildlife agenda is actually interfering with the balance of nature by a very special interest group making unfounded, blood-lusting decisions on how we manage our wildlife with our tax payers subsidies. We need to do this on a national level, now is the time, we cannot tolerate this any longer. This has to be a very well planned, aggressive campaign, and all experts need to be media prepared, flood the media at a sudden and massive rate so that the NRA cannot retaliate on any individual. We have to flood All Governor’s offices with the Wildlife Watching plan enticing them with the $$$ that they can make with this option. CA right now has legislation being worked on confronting the hunters, http://www.pawpac.org/latest-updates.html

  5. A great read and interesting perspective as well as knowledgeable comments. Each time I see photos of dead wolves and smiling killers it angers me that 1) taxpayers have paid for reintroduction of wolves and other species, which, as soon as their numbers rebound, ultimately turn into “fair game” for hunters. They insist on it. They demand it and they usually get their way. Why is that? Certainly the opposition outnumbers the hunters. Is it only because wildlife agencies perpetuate their paychecks through hunting licenses?
    2) Despite the few that “get away”, filling the diversity gap as you mention seems short-lived at best. These animals are tracked, collared, followed and filmed: micromanaged to such an extent that they hardly seem wild anymore. They become sitting ducks for hunters and … horror of all horrors … trappers.
    Unfortunately I do not think this will stop; the imbalance will continue until it is proven beyond doubt to hunters that their game animals are much less likely to flourish, and/or their hunting opportunities will dwindle due to lack of sufficient game. I believe things need to reach a CRITICAL point before predator and trophy hunters are subjected to the wrath and pressure of “subsistence” hunters to allow nature to balance itself *without* their “assistance”. Until then, it is likely this round-robin game of reintroduction…endangered list…removal from endangered list…slaughter… will continue.

    • Yep, like a two-year-old, hunters demand and usually get their way. And in answer to your question:

      Why is that? Certainly the opposition outnumbers the hunters. Is it only because wildlife agencies perpetuate their paychecks through hunting licenses?

      The answer is yes, that’s it!

      As for your last point, the way things are going, I don’t see many more reintroductions happening anytime soon. More likely, the Endangered Species Act will be so watered down that animals, unless they serve humans some direct purpose, will be taken off the endangered list and left to fend for themselves or go the way of the great auk and the Steller’s sea cow.

      • So true and thank you for providing this platform for dismantling some hunting untruths. Those financial figures are constantly manipulated for PR purposes, too. Hunters will tell you that hunting should be given priority on National Wildlife Refuges because Duck Stamps fund land purchases. The truth is that refuges receive public funding, and Duck Stamps account for 3 percent of those land acquisitions. That’s just one example. I’ve posted about this and have been working with some fellow photographers to spread awareness for the untapped revenue stream that could be us — the wildlife watchers. We outnumber hunters in droves. By U.S. Fish and Wildlife counts, we are 71 million versus the vocal minority of 13 million hunters. Gun revenues (like Pittman-Robertson funds) are mandated by law. I believe it’s only when an alternative funding stream from us non-violent users of public lands becomes viable, that the corrupted and entrenched system will change. Unfortunately, money talks here, as it does everywhere.

  6. Thanks Ingrid, Please add me to your list of fellow photographers and non-violent wildlife watchers. My book, “Exposing the Big Game,” goes into this issue in the chapter, “Living Targets of a Dying Sport.”

  7. Ingrid said:
    >>Gun revenues (like Pittman-Robertson funds) are mandated by law. I believe it’s only when an alternative funding stream from us non-violent users of public lands becomes viable, that the corrupted and entrenched system will change.<<

    I love this forum!
    Have you had any thoughts as to where to begin this "change"? I almost wish it could be a "voluntary" system of payment but I suppose that would not give the wildlife agencies the financial consistency they have come to depend on.
    Speaking for myself, I would almost welcome some type of mandatory payment. All that comes to mind at the moment is a type of license for non-hunters for any other type of recreational usage of public lands. With non-hunting numbers being so much higher than hunters as Ingrid points out, it shouldn't have to be too "pricey" in order for the final figures to trump the opposition.
    Other ideas?

    • Not that anyone could ever come up with a fair price for an animal’s life, but if hunters had to pay a respectable amount for the licence to take a life, there would be a lot fewer of them doing it. Of course that would just encourage more poaching by the less well-heeled and the ones who could afford it would make even more of an issue out of how their fees were “helping” the wildlife.

      The question is, where is the money going that comes from hunting licences and tags anyway? It’s not going into the hands of anyone who really cares about animals. Game departments are all run by hunters who would rather see hunters out killing animals than a bunch of non-violent bird or wildlife watchers, so they gear everything toward hunting (ultimately discouraging people who want peace and quiet).

      The first thing that needs to happen is to disband all the game departments and start over with people who appreciate wildlife alive. Then the money raised by non-consumptive use fees (like the forest pass parking fees we already have to buy) can go directly to habitat restoration or for the prosecution of crimes against wildlife.

      Also, non-profit groups like the Nature Conservancy or HSUS’s Wildlife Land Trust need to specify that the land they are preserving is off limits to hunting, to make up for some of the public land usurpted by pro-kill policies.

      Those are just a couple thoughts on it. Ingrid or anyone, what other ideas do you have?

      • Jim, my ideas run the gamut, and the obstacles you cite are significant, particularly how wildlife departments tend to be stacked with a hunting bias. Where does one even begin, right? I’ve been focusing on one project with a few committed individuals: putting together a proposal for a non-consumptive Wildlife Watcher’s stamp as an alternative to the Duck Stamp — for wildlife watchers and birders who object to the Duck Stamp in principle, or who would like to see funding dedicated to non-game, non-hunting conservation efforts. (Feel free to delete this link, Jim, if it’s inappropriate, but I outlined some of the ideas in this series of posts: http://bit.ly/SGXKao)

        It would be a tiny, incremental step in what I see as creating irrefutable proof that there’s far more revenue to be had from us non-consumptive users than from hunters and anglers. Wildlife managers are, as you say, beholden to the funds. Some have significant mixed feelings, but feel encumbered by the system. Currently, there are no reliable revenue streams to even suggest what those financial figures could be from non-hunting users. Not only are purchase revenues not attributed to non-hunters, the funding is filed under the auspices of hunting revenue, and tends to favor game applications on wildlife refuges. An alternative Duck Stamp could provide one such piece of documentation.

      • Thanks for the link, Ingrid. I read your 3 part post and see that you’ve got some great ideas going. The alternative Duck Stamp (or, for-the-Ducks Stamp, as opposed to the traditional for-the-hunters-“Duck Stamp”) is a great idea. As a photographer and birder, I never wanted to buy a “Duck Stamp” because it supports hunting (by giving them access on refuges, etc.)and would suggest I was one of them.

  8. Not sure if I can copy/paste this article here or not – but will make the attempt. Despite the title it addresses our previous discussion regarding having more of a voice in wildlife “management”.

    6% of Americans hunted in 2011,,,,,about 15% went fishing and a good 1/3 of all Americans did some type of wildlife watching…………..Seems like State Game Commissions and Wildlife Agencies should be looking to hear from those 33% of Americans who like watching wildlife at least as often as the hunters and fisherman in determining how to manage all types of wildlife including carnivores

    Posted: 18 Aug 2012 09:49 PM PDT

    AMERICA’S GREAT OUTDOOORS: Reversing Decades of Decline, the Number of Hunters and Anglers is on the Rise
    doi.gov

    ——————————————————————————–

    Salazar: Survey Delivers ‘Great News for America’s Economy and Conservation Heritage’

    Contact: Blake Androff (DOI)703 358 2081 Kim Betton (FWS): 703-358-2081

    MILWAUKEE, WI – Highlighting the reversal of decades of declining numbers, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the results of a comprehensive national survey of outdoor recreation showing a significant increase in hunters and a double-digit increase in anglers over the past five years.

    “Seeing more people fishing, hunting, and getting outdoors is great news for America’s economy and conservation heritage,” said Salazar. “Outdoor recreation and tourism are huge economic engines for local communities and the country, so it is vital that we continue to support policies and investments that help Americans get outside, learn to fish, or go hunting. That is why, through President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, we have been focused on helping Americans rediscover the joys of casting a line, passing along family hunting traditions, and protecting the places they love.”

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found that hunters nationwide increased by 9 percent while anglers grew by 11 percent. Nearly 38 percent of all Americans participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. They spent $145 billion on related gear, trips and other purchases, such as licenses, tags and land leasing and ownership, representing 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

    “The Fish and Wildlife Service is dedicated to connecting people and families with nature,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “We look forward to continuing to work with the States, non-governmental organizations, and additional partners to help keep recreational fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching going strong for people across America’s great outdoors.”

    Other key findings include:

    • In 2011, 13.7 million people, 6 percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older, went hunting. They spent $34.0 billion on trips, equipment, licenses, and other items in 2011, an average of $2,484 per hunter.

    • More than 33 million people 16 and older fished in 2011, spending $41.8 billion on trips, equipment, licenses, and other items, an average of $1,262 per angler.

    • More than 71 million people engaged in wildlife watching in 2011, spending $55.0 billion on their activities

    At the request of state fish and wildlife agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service has been conducting the national survey every five years since 1955. It is viewed as one of the nation’s most important wildlife-related recreation databases and the definitive source of information concerning participation and purchases associated with hunting, fishing and other forms of wildlife-related recreation nationwide.

    “State agencies, hunters and anglers are the key funders of fish and wildlife conservation through their license and gear purchases,” said Dr. Jonathan Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “An increase in participation and expenditure rates means that agencies can continue to restore and improve habitat and fish and wildlife species, bring more youth into the outdoors and provide even greater access to recreational activities.”

    The U.S. Census Bureau interviewed 48,627 households across the country to obtain samples of sportspersons and wildlife watchers for detailed interviews. Information was collected through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews.

    The Survey is funded through a Multi-State Conservation Grant from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, which celebrates 75 years of conservation success in 2012.

    The report is the first in a series that the Service will release. The next report of findings will contain State data and will be available in the coming months. In late November, the National Report with more detail participation and expenditure estimates will be available online. From December 2012 to May 2013, the 50 State reports will be released on a rolling basis.

    The results of the National Overview report can be found here.

    Visit http://coyotes-wolves-cougars.blogspot.com

  9. Ingrid, I just subscribed to The Free Quark. It promises to be something I’ve been looking for as an adjunct to another I’ve been following: Rick Meril’s blog which provides up-to-date information on multiple species http://coyotes-wolves-cougars.blogspot.com Knowledge is definitely power and you folks certainly seem to be on the right track.
    I think what we need is someone knowledgeable to lead us on the path to finally having a voice on this topic. It has to begin somewhere. Why not here?
    I look forward to more informative posts on getting started with our apparent collective desires to revamp the current system which caters almost exclusively to “consumptive” self-interest, self-serving groups. Time to end it.

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