1996 was a historic year for the state of Montana; it was the year wolves were re-introduced to the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. But the return of the big bad wolf struck terror into the hearts of little red-state, redneck riding hoods, who habitually hate what they fear and traditionally eradicate what they hate. Wolf-haters panic at the thought of natural predators competing for their trophy “game” animals and loath anything that might threaten their exploitive way of life. If these folks (led by heavily-funded pro-hunting groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) have their way, 2012 will trump 1996, making history for a very different reason—it could be the year wolves were once again hunted and trapped to extinction in the state.
Bigotry against wolves has thrived across the country since colonial times and these misjudged canids have long been the object of unwarranted phobias. In 1884, the year Montana initiated its first wolf bounty 5450 were killed in that state alone. That figure gives you some idea of how far from being truly “recovered” wolves in Montana really are. But that state’s wildlife policy makers don’t seem to know or care just how backwards and brutal they appear to the rest of the world. As the respected Canadian naturalist and author, R D Lawrence, put it:
“Killing for sport, for fur, or to increase a hunter’s success by slaughtering predators is totally abhorrent to me. I deem such behavior to be barbaric, a symptom of the social sickness that causes our species to make war against itself at regular intervals with weapons whose killing capacities have increased horrendously since man first made use of the club—weapons that today are continuing to be ‘improved’.”
Just today, an esteemed pioneering family of naturalists, the Muries, notified the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that their extreme anti-wolf rhetoric (including their role in Montana’s new three wolf per hunter/trapper “bag” limit) must end or they will lose support from the Murie family. Adolph Murie was an early wolf advovate and author of The Wolves of Mount McKinley and his brother Olas J. Murie, along with Aldo Leopold, was one of the first proponents of biodiversity and wildlife preservation and was a staunch defender of predators and their crucial role in ecosystems.
Olaus Murie’s son, Donald Murie, told the RMEF that their “all-out war against wolves” is an “anathema to the entire Murie family. We must regretfully demand that unless you have a major change in policy regarding wolves that you cancel the Olaus Murie Award. The Murie name must never be associated with the unscientific and inhumane practices you are advancing.”
But a spokesman for the RMEF MFers responded predictably by saying: “What we’re going to do is honor the family’s request. But we’re not going to change our position.” In other words, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is going to continue to push for the unscientific and inhumane policy of all-out wolf eradication.
Portions of this post were excerpted from Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport.