Dying to Save You: Arrogance, Wolves and the Destruction of the Profanity Peak Pack

by Stephen Capra

For the second time in four years, one rancher, Len McIrvin, is dictating policy on our public land. In this case, despite the clear knowledge that he released his cows in a wild, forested and rugged land that had an existing wolf den.

The Washington Department of Fish And Wildlife, with the agreement of conservation groups that include Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, Conservation Northwest and Wolf Haven International, the Profanity Peak Pack is being destroyed so that we can maintain the status quo: Ranchers controlling our public lands.

Think for a moment what life is like being a wolf in the West. Every day is running a gauntlet of traps, hunting seasons, ranchers and state game departments that take pride in your destruction; the pure hell of a helicopter hovering above with scope and a sharp-shooter taking aim at your family and with crushing accuracy destroying your very life force. All the while the health of our lands, the value of biodiversity, and the reality that we are losing species to climate change and mans ignorance is lost to the mantra that livestock comes before wildlife. The parochial concept is that public lands are to be exploited for profit, rather than protected for life.

So this wild and beautiful pack of wolves must die, so a rancher-one with a clear vendetta against wolves- a man who has learned well in his family’s 73 years of enjoying the subsidies and special treatment afforded ranchers on our public lands and how to “game the system.”

The press release from the various conservation groups speaks to this being a “tough but necessary step.” Jamie Rapport Clark, the head of Defenders of Wildlife, hearing the outrage loud and clear from her membership went to Huffington Post to state: “I want you to know how gut-wrenching as this loss is, the work we do every day is creating a safer landscape for wolves.”

If that were actually true, I think most of us could agree. But the reality is quite different: wolves are being slaughtered as they struggle to gain a foothold. The fantasy that we can have wolves and happy rural communities, is just that, a fantasy. In such a cultural battle, we cannot continue to believe that conservation voices will breakdown generations of thinking. That is the definition of arrogance. Another major flaw is the creation of these so-called “working groups” that bring ranchers, conservationists, and State Game and Fish agencies together to work on wolf issues. We are losing every time we allow a killing, every time we give voice to a ranching community that does not seek fairness, but simply to maintain their power over agencies, politicians and the press. By participating we give away our power, not gain it, and the victim in this travesty, is the wolf.

We are fighting to shift a paradigm in need of change. Supporting ranchers and giving them a larger voice is destroying all we hold precious. The “profanity” in all of this remains the reluctance of the conservation community to unify and fight this senseless killing. There are no easy answers, yet it seems clear after more than 25 years of effort, of trying to find common ground with the ranching community, that wolves and other large carnivores are paying the price in a trail of blood that stretches from Alaska to New Mexico. It has helped to inspire the takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and the continued harassment of government agencies that manage our public lands. It continues to inspire legislation designed to open lands to exploitation and undermine generations of conservation effort.

The appeasement of the ranching community must end. It’s time to put focused and determined effort into removing cows from our public lands. The value of these lands as a reservoir for biodiversity far outweighs the reckless subsidies of our future that continues to be degraded and disrespected in the hands of ignorance. We are fighting now for justice, for true equality for all life, not just that of humans. We are asking for sanity in a situation that has frankly become insane.

Like any real social movement, education alone does not evoke change. From civil rights to gay rights to environmental protections, it has usually taken the hammer of our courts to force the changes in social norms. Likewise, ranchers and rural communities are going to have to face similar stark realities in order to force an evolution. Some will thrive with change and some will not. We have witnessed this when logging moved away or mining packed up and left.

The government can help support a transition as it should and the retirement of allotments continues to create an economic incentive for a dying industry.

The future of rural communities is not livestock grazing, but wolves, recreation and the restoration of our lands and waters that have been so degraded by the cow.

History is always a guide to the present. For many it is hard to look at our past, to read of the slaughter of Native Americans, to the destruction of bison on the Great Plains, to remember an America where the color of your skin was a barrier to a future. So too will we be remembered as a generation that brought back a magnificent animal from the brink, but only if we truly give it freedom, life, and the liberty to live and thrive in a place we call wildness. For this to happen we must demand more of ourselves and be strong enough to challenge a Western culture soiled in blood.

Only then can the Profanity Peak Pack truly rest in peace.

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13 thoughts on “Dying to Save You: Arrogance, Wolves and the Destruction of the Profanity Peak Pack

  1. Pingback: Dying to Save You: Arrogance, Wolves and the Destruction of the Profanity Peak Pack — Exposing the Big Game | spiritandanimal.wordpress.com

  2. Awesome defense of the Profanity family group, and impressive & inspirational “speaking truth to power.” Definitely resonates with me.

  3. The ranchers, generally arrogant, entitled into power and contro thinking, self-centered, victim stance taking, one of the main enemies of wildlife, predators in particular, killing wildlife on public land, hysterical reaction to wolves

  4. Profanity Wolf Family Group, WA, WDFW, killing entire pack at rancher behest. Is political management of wildlife at its worse: The wildlife officials have discovered, they believe, that killing an entire pack who started depredation on livestock is most efficacious ending depredations, they believe, for wolves who have learned to prey on easy prey, livestock. This is still totally out of line in terms of conservation. Wolves, other predators, should not be killed at
    the behest of ranchers leasing public land. It should be acceptable collateral damage for encroaching on wildlife. Ranchers should have non lethal management practices in place and active. Most, if not all, wolf and grizzly impacted ranchers have a predator compensation fund. Manage ranchers not wildlife. Retire those leases to wildlife conservation. When in conflict with predators existence on public land, national forests, parks, refuges, choose wildlife. We are not going to appease ranchers or hunters by killing predators for them. Wildlife agencies killing public wildlife on public land for a rancher is absurdly shameful. Rein in these renegade state wildlife agencies. Conservation agencies’ support may open a Pandora’s Box for baiting then killing “offending wolves” on public land. Some leases are so rugged and forested they are almost impossible to defend and even having stock there is baiting predators. Sloppy stock management or deliberate baiting is death knell for predators. Giving ranchers priority on public land is death knell for predators. Manage ranchers, not wolves.

    Some conservationists and newspaper pundits favor killing a cattle predation inclined wolf pack because all the pack has learned to offend, and because it may engender more tolerance among ranchers. Killing wolves reinforces the rancher attitudes of wolf jihad as killing wolves for hunters reinforces their wolf jihad attitudes. News media support of rancher and hunter hysteria reinforces their mythology, hatred, fear, entitlement, power and control attitudes.

    Killing a wolf pack is simply wrong on public land or leased public land for a rancher encroaching on wildlife. Ranchers (animal farmers) offer a product, animal meat, which harms human health, and the production of which is a major environmental disaster, polluting streams, river banks, the air. It encroaches on wildlife. Forests are cut down daily for pasture around the world, further disrupting the carbon cycle. Ranchers are an entitled, power and control, victim stance positioning, self centered lot, causing pain to other sentient animals by the millions annually. Animal farming (aka ranching) is not sustainable nor health for man or the environment, and is not sustainable. We should start retiring those public leases and re-wilding the land and forests and re-establishing a healthy biodiversity. State wildlife agencies should be held accountable by the other 94% of us! not just hunters and ranchers. Man is continuing a war on wildlife. Man is destroying the planet.




  5. I’m just aghast that the conservation groups involved support this. If this man had done all he could and still had depredation, I could understand it. But this is absolutely not necessary because the man refuses to do much of anything except to protest the presence of wolves by his behavior and unreasonable demands, and the conservation groups ought to be much more vocal about of it – not saying that it is ‘necessary’. I don’t think a chance for a seat at the table means you have to toss out your values, I expect a lot more from them. Great article, I agree.

    I wonder what has happened to the rest of the pack. It wouldn’t be unheard of for F&W departments to act without public knowledge. They did that at Frank Church to get rid of wolves to ‘boost elk numbers’!

  6. Okay. So Mr. McIrvin is largely responsible for the death of another wolf pack. He and many other ranchers graze their cattle on public lands in areas that put the animals at risk for multiple dangers, including predation. When the inevitable occurs, they demand that fish and game departments deliver the death sentence. In this case WSFW complied, again, caving in to the rancher’s sense of entitlement, and agreed to kill the wolves his own ranching practices attracted. We also get it that WSFW, like similar bureacracies in other states, is influenced by powerful ranching, hunting, and gun organizations who have loud voices and deep pockets that get legislators’ attention and compliance.

    What I find even more revolting is the tepid and half-hearted response by the so-called wildlife defenders. As the wolves are being gunned down, their “defenders” are busy being reasonable in dealing with other members of their “working groups–ranchers, conservationists, and fish and game departments–to achieve peace between carnivores and ranchers.

    The Joint Conservation Wolf Advisory Group issued a statement “to express regret for the loss of the pack while asking for a reasonable response from the public.” This was signed by Wolf Haven International, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Humane Society of the United States.

    The advocacy group claims to remain “steadfast” that their ultimate goal is the long-term recovery and public acceptance of wolves, and they ask the citizens of Washington and other states to “engage in respectful and civil dialogues” as they work through the challening events.

    Is that the best they can do? If so, it is pathetic! It seems that the advocates never have the same passion and determination to save wolves as the ranchers do to destroy them. Maybe they don’t have the money and the energy of the NRA or national or state cattlemen’s associations, but if they really cared about wildlife they would have the guts to stand up and say that killing one wolf pack after another or disrupting one pack after another by killing its members is not okay.

    But these groups have their own self-interest, membership, and fund raising to think about. So the lives and well-being of wolves and other wildlife always come last.

    Being reasonable is only getting the wolves killed. Mr. Capra notes the following: “From civil rights to gay rights to environmental protections, it has usually taken the hammer of our courts to force the changes in social norms.” But it took more than the courts. And those social justice movements did not win by having meetings where its members agreed to be reasonable and uphold the very injustice they were fighting. They took to the streets by the thousands. They articulated a firm moral stand. And they refused to back down.

  7. Wow, great and enlightening article, particularly the part concerning Defenders of Wildlife. I knew about the other groups catering to ranchers, but I’m surprised about Defenders., especially since I donated to their bring-back-the-wolf-financial requests for years. No more and I will let them know why. Yes, the time has come to get cattle off of public lands, especially in areas where there are actually any predators left. It is a moral imperative.

  8. More info on this welfare cattle family – they killed and stuffed a mountain lion and it is now hanging on the wall in their house and in this article he says the lion was a “serial killer” but it appears that it is this family that should wear that title:
    “Running cattle either along the Canadian border or along the Columbia River demands more than a well-maintained fleet of trucks and an easily-identifiable brand. In the northern property of the Diamond M, the enemies are the frigid winters and mountain lions. Bill, Len’s son who now runs the ranch, once bagged a lion that stretched almost nine feet from nose to tail. This lion was a serial killer, having hunted the livestock for years. It’s now mounted on the den wall of the ranch house. In the southern properties, the weather is less of a threat to the cattle, but the predators are more relentless. Packs of coyotes have killed so many cattle in the Columbia River Basin that the McIrvins estimate a loss of $30,000 annually over the past five years due to coyote attacks.”
    – Jim Keen, Great Ranches of the West Author & Photographer

    “What can be done to address the problems associated with public lands livestock grazing? There is a simple answer: end it. Get the cows and sheep off, let the wild creatures reclaim their native habitat, and send the ranchers a bill for the cost of restoration.” – Welfare Ranching

  9. Pingback: Sacred Cows and Sacrificial Wolves - Earth in Transition

  10. Pingback: Sacred Cows and Sacrificial Wolves  - Protect The Wolves

  11. Pingback: Sacred Cows and Sacrificial Wolves  - Friends of The Wolf

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