People: Yes Wolves: No Part 2

People: Yes.  Wolves: No  Part two. By Peter Burrows 3/10/15

(On Tuesday night, March 10, 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 recovery program.  Public welcome, no charge.)

When I first arrived in Silver City almost ten years ago, I attended a public meeting on the wolf recovery program. I remember it was at the Unitarian Church, and I believe it was put on by Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity.  I remember the presenter was a young man of sincerity and passion.

I was there to learn about and lend my support to the wolf effort because I thought it sounded like a good thing.  Being from Wisconsin, I had a lot to learn about the Southwest.

To the best of my dimming recollection — this was ten years ago folks — the program was concerned with the difficulty of introducing the wolf to this area. The high mortality rate of the wolves was dramatized with pictures of wolves caught in traps, wolves that had escaped traps by gnawing a leg off, wolves that had been shot, wolf pups with no mother, etc. etc.

Like most of us, I associate wolves with dogs and what I saw was upsetting. Even more upsetting was the attempt to blame all this wolf carnage on the ranchers.  I voiced my opinion that the blame was on the people, including those in that room, who were trying to shoehorn the wolf back into an area where it was neither welcome nor needed.  I felt like shouting “Stop this inhumane experiment, damn you!”

Things have gotten worse since then. This past January the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expanded the Mexican Gray wolf recovery habitat four-fold to encompass the southern two-thirds of Arizona and New Mexico, and jumped the target wolf population to 300-325.  The aforementioned Michael Robinson immediately protested that the area wasn’t enough and the target number of wolves too low.

Rule One for Government Programs: THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH.

OK, how would I run a wolf recovery program in the unlikely event that I thought that would make the world a better place?  The first thing I would do is buy out all the ranchers and farmers who object to the program.. These are the folks who were here first, some going back generations, who earn a living here that will be hurt by the wolf program.  They’re also the folks who could sabotage the program if they’re not on board.

I would pay top dollar and then some. The livestock would be sold off and the lands restored to as close to original as possible.  If some wanted to keep their homes but not ranch in any way, fine. Everybody would be happy.  I know what you’re thinking: “Where you gonna get the bucks, Burro?”

Easy.  I’d tap the vast left-wing billionaire environmental club, starting with Tom Steyer, Oprah, The Google Boys, etc. etc.  Should be able to raise $50 to $100 million a year until the job is done.  It might take 20-30 years. There will be rancher holdouts who love their lifestyle, holdouts wanting more than “top dollar plus,” and some who just want to be obstinate.  It will take some time.

Why isn’t that being done now? Because that would mean that those in charge of the wolf recovery program recognize that the people who were already here have rights, feelings and traditions that should be respected instead of violated. If you believe that’s possible, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

They’d rather use government money and coercion, the ranchers be damned and to Hell with the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause.  (Laws are such petty annoyances.)  They don’t give a damn about the wolves, either.  That’s obvious.  As to cattle, sheep, horses, pets and all the wildlife the wolves will kill, that’s just the price to pay (by others) to achieve “nature’s balance.”

It’s not really about putting the wolf back in the wilderness, it’s about getting the people out of what used to be the wilderness, but is no more.  According to a couple of grizzled ranchers in Catron County, Charlie McCarty and Hugh McKeen, who wrote books about trying to ranch in New Mexico, the Federal Forestocracy is actively on the side of the environmentalists.

What’s really ironic is the fact that human beings, far from being the agents of wolf extinction, have in fact guaranteed that Canis lupus will be on earth for as long as people are.  With a breeding tweak here and there, over time the wolf has evolved into a rich array of wonderful creatures we call “dogs.”

Wolves. Wonderful animals after ten thousand years or so of human engineering.  Otherwise, leave them in the wilderness.

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