The New York Times’ editorial, “Wolf Haters” (December 29, 2013), brought up two prime examples of how anti-wolf fanatics in states like Idaho are trying to drag us back to the dark ages of centuries past, when predators were hunted and trapped to extinction by ignorant people claiming all of nature’s bounty for themselves.
Most Americans nowadays understand natural processes well enough to know that apex species, like wolves, will find equilibrium with their prey if given a chance. Perhaps the only ones who won’t accept that fact are trophy hunters who still claim the elk in Idaho’s wilderness areas as a commodity exclusively for them. It goes beyond the absurd that the US Forest Service would permit a state game department to bring in a bounty hunter because the land is too rugged for the average wolf hunter. To me that seems like the perfect kind of place for predator and prey to return to some semblance of the order that existed before the spread of Manifest Destiny.
I’m sure the enlightened lawmakers who crafted the Endangered Species Act (exactly 40 years ago) never imagined recovering species would be used as targets for some hair-brained “hunters’ rights” groups’ “derby hunt,” as is going on in Salmon, Idaho. Yet this brand of disregard is not without precedence—endangered prairie dogs are routinely targeted by “shooting sports” enthusiasts across the West. What’s next—contest hunts on Yellowstone Bison reminiscent of Buffalo Bill’s reckless era? Or, perhaps a Sunday afternoon of blasting bald eagles?