If I a flag to hang outside my house, it would be flying at half-mast today.
Today should be officially declared a day of mourning for wolves, in honor of Washington’s Wedge pack—brutally killed last week to appease an intolerant cattle rancher—and also a day of remembrance for all of the wolves across the country and throughout our history who were hunted to extinction in order to make room for modern humans and their chosen food species.
This whole thing brings to mind the first time I beheld the sight of wolves. Due to repeated persecution by residents of a nearby, decrepit mining-town-turned-tourist-trap on the Alaska panhandle, wolves hadn’t been seen around there for decades. Their surprise return that year was greeted with generous appreciation by an assembly of bear watchers and photographers who shared in my elation.
But the spectacle lasted only one short season; by late fall a couple of local tyrants—under the patrician delusion that it‘s all here for them—had trapped, shot and otherwise driven off every member of the pack. These days, the only sign of wolves to be found is a hand-painted plywood sign advertising “Wolf Hides for Sale” in front of a detestable trinket shop on a muddy back road of the wretched little town.
Wolves in Alaska can legally be killed by anyone, virtually anytime and by any means imaginable (former Governor Sarah Palin‘s apparent personal favorite: strafing from low-flying aircraft).
I never thought I’d see the day that Washington wolves would suffer that same fate; when wolves here would be relentlessly pursued from the air and gunned down like escaped convicts as they fled for the Canadian border; when a radio tracking device would be used not for furthering scientific understanding, but to aid in the massacre of an entire family; when wolves in one of the most progressive states would be sacrificed on the altar of the T-bone and the cheeseburger.
As in Alaska, a few local tyrants here think they can dictate whether a wild wolf pack should live or die. Clearly, bigotry against wolves is alive and well in Washington State. It’s just tragic that the wolves of the Wedge pack had to be the first to find out. __________________________________________
A portion of this post was excerpted from the book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport