What Motivates a Wolf Killer?

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Killing a wolf is a crime against nature—and the motive depends on the kind of perpetrator. To a trophy hunter, a dead wolf is something to mount on a wall and brag about. By literally possessing the animal, they can relive their kill over and over, remorselessly boosting their flagging self-esteem every time they vacuously gaze at their victim’s lifeless body. For a fur trapper, a dead wolf is just a hide and a chance to play modern-day frontiersman. Although there’s no real frontier left, they consciously choose to revive a bloody, destructive lifestyle—partly for money, but mostly for a sense of identity.

But to a “wolfer,” the kind of person whose central preoccupation is hiring on to rid an area of each and every last wolf he can, a prime sense of greed is the motivating factor.

Sure, a guy like that, such as the wolfer contracted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to snuff out the Golden Creek and Monumental Creek packs in Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness Area, must get an ego boost from being known as a “professional” wolf killer. He no doubt experiences some kind of perverse thrill every time he finds an animal desperately trying to free him-or-herself from one of his leg crushing traps. And he probably even gets off on hearing that his actions are upsetting a lot of empathetic wolf advocates who desperately want him to stop his atrocities. But the main reason the wolfer does the job he does is greed, pure and simple: a selfish lust for power, control and of course, money.

That may not seem like a lot to accuse him of in a country built on the spoils of selfishness and greed. Yes, he is surely evil incarnate, soulless and sick to the core, but as long as someone is paying him to “get the job done”… And who the hell pressed the state into hiring a hit man to eliminate established packs, tormenting individual wolves and disrupting nature’s time-tested order? Ask the Idaho trophy elk hunting syndicate.*

The wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness area weren’t after anyone’s cows or frightening school kids at bus stops, they were just doing what comes naturally to wolves. Killing off apex predators to make it easier for sport hunters has got to be the height of human arrogance.
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*syn-di-cate (noun) 5) an association of gangsters that controls an area of organized crime

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12 thoughts on “What Motivates a Wolf Killer?

  1. Thank you for writing this. I would really appreciate going much deeper into a discussion of what motivates people to hate and kill wolves when those wolves pose no threat to anyone or anything. I think the drive is much deeper than greed, as there are much easier ways to make larger amounts of money.

      • Yes, you did. But I am looking more for the roots of these motives. If the goal is to reverse this trend of raising greedy, egotistical, low self-esteemers who kill either other humans or animals to sate some need, then we need to dig further into the psychology of this behavior. I am putting this out there because I really want to know how to get to the root of this kind of, for lack of a better word, evil. People who kill for ego or thrills are a direct product of the world we have created, collectively. So, what can we do now to change it, to get young people off on a better footing?

      • For one thing we need to counter, at every opportunity, hunting groups like the NRA and Safari Club when they try to recruit kids into hunting. As far as how keep kids from growing up to be predators, yes, there is a lot still to be discussed.

  2. I myself try not to further legitimize this kind of terminology. It’s probably too late for “whaler” to mean a whale-watcher and not a whale-killer. But “birder” is universally accepted as a bird-watcher. “Herper” too, means those who are interested in, look for, and love snakes and frogs, not those who kill them. Let those who who cause death and destruction take on the onus of having the verb in their description: “Wolf-killer,” “coyote-killer,” squirrel-killer,” “prairie-dog killer,” “deer-killer.” No less-explicit euphemism to soften the edges of their evil will do.

    • Good point. Like “whaler,” the term “wolfer” was a lot more popular in the 1800s, when there were wolves (and whales) still around to kill. I’m glad it’s a nearly forgotten term (although there’s a book out with that title, by a former self-professed Wildlife “Services” wolf/coyote-killer), and nowadays there are far more wolf-watchers than wolf-killers.

  3. I suspect that there is a clinical term for this aberrant behavior (killing), and I agree that wolf killers share characteristics with baby killers, serial killers, and any other kind of killer. Although the victims are different species, the killer’s impulses and motivations are the same — to establish absolute power and dominance over another and to inflict and revel in the infliction of suffering.

    There is something deeply pathological and diabolical at work in the psychology of these killers. Idaho is awash in this kind of mental illness, from the governor to his henchmen [Fish & Game] commission and his henchmen [Fish & Game] department. They do constitute a hunting and trapping syndicate, and individually they are all avid killers. They will not stop unless compelled to by public outcry and/or court action.

  4. Pingback: What Motivates a Wolf Killer? « UnEntangleMe

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