People: Yes. Wolves: No.

People: Yes.  Wolves: No    by Peter Burrows 3/9/15

(On Tuesday night, 6:00 PM at the Woman’s Club, the TEA Party is hosting Laura Schneberger, President of the Gila Livestock Growers Assn., who will speak on the problems facing ranchers because of the wolf reintroduction program. Public welcome, no charge.)

Good people love animals in general, and dogs in particular.  We transfer that special love so many of us have for dogs to wolves.  This is a mistake: WOLVES ARE NOT DOGS.  Wolves will eat your dog, and your cat, and your horse, and maybe even your grandchild, though I’ve yet to hear of that.

I have a great picture in my den of a wolf, face half hidden, looking through out-of-focus branches in a telephoto picture taken by the great wolf photographer, Jim Brandenberg.  I love the photo, and the wolf, but I wouldn’t love the wolf if he was in my yard.  If he threatened my dog, my cat, my family or my neighbor‘s cat, dog, or family, I’d shoot him.  Without hesitation, without a qualm. (To see the photograph, Google “wolf photography Brandenberg,” and look for “Gray Wolf.”)

Which brings to mind a problem with reintroducing wolves into our environment. If your dog comes into my yard and kills my dog, I’m going to make sure you are visited by the police.  Who am I going to seek redress from if a wolf kills my dog?  Multiply the intensity by a million for a child instead of a dog.

The above is not so hypothetical.  Just this past January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in its ongoing wolf recovery program, expanded the Mexican Gray Wolf habitat area four-fold, to cover the southern two-thirds of both Arizona and New Mexico. The informal population target for wolves had been 100. It is now 300 – 325.  This guarantees more frequent contact between wolves and people.  It also guarantees more headaches, heartaches, and financial woes for the ranchers of Arizona and New Mexico.

All this is of little concern to the people pushing the wolf recovery program.  They aren’t facing any financial hardships if a wolf kills a steer; they’ll never have to shoot a dog, horse or calf left to die after being mangled by a wolf.  And, if a human being is killed by a wolf, well, that‘s just too rare to be of any concern.  (Maybe becoming not so rare. A teacher in Alaska was recently killed by wolves while jogging.)

This problem of advocates not bearing the costs of their advocacy is seen throughout our society. The higher costs of renewable energy are of little concern to the elitist environmentalist. Those who advocate higher minimum wages rarely have any employees. Similarly, the popularity of wolf recovery programs is big in metropolitan areas with people who will never see a ranch, never mind own or work on one.

What especially distresses me are those wildlife lovers who claim reintroducing the wolf will bring “balance to nature.”  What these people fail to appreciate is that the wolf has been gone from this area for almost a hundred years.  People have moved in, and people have established a new balance of nature.  This new balance has introduced cattle, sheep and horses to the environment, and has also resulted in larger elk and deer populations, to the benefit of both hunters and wildlife programs supported by hunters and hunting license fees.

To a degree, people have replaced wolves in the “balance of nature.”  Reintroducing wolves will upset this balance and, at the very least, will result in a drastically reduced population of elk and deer. In Yellowstone Park, wolves began being introduced in 1995 and the once vast herds of elk have been reduced by up to 80 percent, with an attendant near destruction of a once thriving hunting industry.

Now, I am not a hunter.  I do not wish to kill elk, antelope, cougar, etc. for sport, trophy or meat. However, I do not feel morally superior to those who do hunt, and I have enjoyed my brother-in-law’s antelope stew on more than one occasion.  I rationalize this with the fact that hunters are needed to control the antelope and deer  populations.

Better hunters with rifles than packs of wolves.  I’d rather have wild game die more or less instantly than over a long period from a ripped-open intestine.  Wolves are vicious killers.  How a professed wildlife lover would want to turn packs of wolves loose where they will destroy deer and antelope herds is beyond me.  In addition, there are the domestic cattle, horses, sheep and pets that will also inevitably suffer terrible deaths due to wolves.

All this thanks to people who think it is their right to impose their version of cosmic justice on the rest of us. My question to them: Who made you God?

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