Killer Thugs Take Advantage of Wolf Deregulation

(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Eighteen months ago, when the Department of Interior began talking about removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list, and leaving control of its population to the states, eco-advocates sent out a warning: if this goes forward, wolves will be eradicated. They were sneered at, called alarmists and ignored. Six months ago, on March 28, the wolf was removed from the endangered list in the northern Rockies,

The critics judged right. Nobody who knows the history of the wolf in the United States should be surprised. The government’s decision to delist might as well have included transportation to wolf country and free ammo for a few street gangs. The operative word for what occurred: slaughter. So the feds stepped back in last week.

You don’t have to be an animal rights activist to have your blood boiled by what Julie Cart writes about that slaughter in today’s Los Angeles Times. “Sportsmen” on snowmobiles rampaged through the area. They bragged that they’d shot a wolf. Some had them stuffed:  

Delisting endangers wolves

It began near here in this high-altitude chaparral. No sooner were gray wolves delisted in March than sportsmen in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming began locking and loading. Wyoming officials declared 90% of the state a “free-fire zone.” Hunters from around the state flocked to rural Sublette County to bag a wolf.

Rancher Merrill Dana, 57, saw the results right away. Hunters aboard snowmobiles chased wolves across the early spring snow on his sprawling ranch. “The first morning it was opened up, they killed three up here,” he said. “Trespassers. We didn’t even know they were up here until we heard the snow machines.”

Dana is no friend of the wolf. Like many Western ranchers, whose ancestors on the land did a more complete job on that creature than they did on the Indians who lived there, he was opposed when the wolf was reintroduced into selected areas of the northern Rockies 13 years ago. Despite programs like the Montana Livestock Loss Reduction and Mitigation Program operated by some environmental groups to compensate ranchers whose livestock or pets are killed by wolves – as well as highly contested federal rules allowing the shooting of wolves who take livestock – the widespread attitude of many ranchers is that they and the wolves are permanently incompatible. It’s a region where signs and the occasional bumper sticker say: “The Only Good Wolf Is a Dead Wolf,” an echo of an infamous saying about indigenous people who once erected their teepees there. Many ranchers viewed the reintroduction scheme as a candy-ass surrender to environmental extremists.

After the delisting, as Cart notes, an average of a wolf a day was being killed across the region by July, with some 10% of the wolves in the northern Rockies wiped out in a few months, at least 130 of the animals. On July 18, a federal judge blocked the fall hunt in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. If the hunt had been allowed, up to 500 animals could have been taken. Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began the process to relist wolves.

Without this intervention, it’s clear that wolves would have soon been back where they were less than two decades ago, almost exterminated in the Lower 48 after a century of relentless bounty hunting that led to overpopulations of prey species like deer and overall damage to the ecosystem.

As always, it’s good not to paint with too broad a brush. At least some ranchers have a more balanced view of wolves than those who want all of them dead.

“People overreacted,” said cattle rancher John Robinette of Dubois, Wyo. “I don’t think the policy was intended as: ‘Go out and see how many wolves you can kill.’ ”

Robinette has lost cattle, horses and dogs to wolves. Even when the wolf was listed, he had a rare federal permit to shoot any wolf he saw on his 25,000 acres. But he said he was convinced that giving everyone that right would lead to needless and reckless slaughter.

“People went out all over the state shooting and bragging about it and putting pictures in the paper,” Robinette said. “This is what I dreaded this spring: that someone would go out and get a bunch of pups out of a den and get their picture in the paper. It was going to draw unwanted attention.”

Robinette is wrong about one thing. For those who had opposed the reintroduction policy from Day One, the delisting and turnover to the states was, in fact, a greenlight for going out and killing all the wolves who could be killed. Politically speaking, their gleefully bloody reaction was short-sighted, because it exposed, quite quickly, the rapacious stupidity which often accompanies deregulatory efforts, whether that is a relaxation of rules on savings and loans, investment banks or the environment.

Nothing essential separates the predatory response of the wolf-killers of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana from the economy-wreckers of Wall Street. They all cite American values in their arguments about independence and freedom to act without government interference, and they all prove, sooner or later, that they can’t be trusted when they aren’t watched.

The wolf population will probably recover now. It did marvelously well after reintroduction. The same can hopefully be said of the economy, although we’re seeing nothing in the currently proposed corrective that deals with structural problems that go well beyond deregulating of merchant banks. But when or whether the economy recovers and wolf population recovers, the devastating damage that has been already done ought to be remembered the next time somebody starts talking trash about how government meddling and unfair regulations are strangling our country. For wolves as well as rank-and-file Americans already struggling to get by in a nation where the gap between rich and poor continues to grow, where two Americas is not a slogan but reality, the consequences of yielding to such demands for deregulation is obvious to anyone willing to look.

Nonetheless, in a few years, you can bet these snake-oil merchants will be back again, whether it’s an environmental matter or some new financial deregulation, pitching their solution. And the bribed and the buyers will queue up. After all, many people shouted “never again” after the deregulation-fueled Savings & Loan debacle that directly cost taxpayers $125 billion and rippled throughout the economy for years. A mere decade after rescue legislation was passed in that crisis, banks were deregulated. Our short memories aren’t just bad for wolves.  


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  1. …lately except to read and Rec’d the occasional Diary. Busy times.  

    • Valtin on September 29, 2008 at 01:32

    Another issue that boils my blood, and you know me 😉

    I was shocked to talk to a “liberal” hunter friend of mine, and to hear his anger against the limitations on hunting wolves. Something about wolves brings out a primal hatred in certain people, or I don’t know how to explain it the blood-lust evinced by those who would exterminate these beautiful, powerful creatures.

  2. That’s a paraphrase of an old blues from Memphis Slim.  He was singing about rabbits.

  3. one thing that illustrates how corrupt our ESA system is.

    The government’s decision to delist might as well have included transportation to wolf country and free ammo for a few street gangs. The operative word for what occurred: slaughter. So the feds stepped back in last week.

    This is what happened (if my memory serves me well). The feds and state discussed delisting proposal one year before it was proposed. The feds conferred with the state on its “management” program, knowing the wolves would be killed as soon as they were off the ESA list.

    After delisting, 106 wolves were killed. This is hoppy, the first wolf killed, who was loved by many.

    The feds backed off because they lost. Eco groups got an injunction to stop the fall hunts that would have killed 500 more, but eco and FWS were still negotiating over the fed’s compliance with recovery law.

    In short, the government blinked. I wonder if this case is related to the political corruption cases in ESA.  

  4. What is it? Do humans have a gene dedicated to nothing but taking more than is necessary, a gene of greed, a gene of wanton plunder? This is only half snark, might it be an intelligence gene of some sort? Or rather a lack of said gene?

    After being on snowshoes , in an Alaskan winterscape, hundreds of miles from a city or village of more than a couple hundred people, and watching a wolf pack play and romp, my heart bled for them after Alaska started the aerial hunting, excuse me, slaughter of these magnificent animals.

    I am so glad that the wolves in the lower 48 states, or the outside as it is called in Alaska have regained their protection. Now if only Alaska could see the light….if only. Their hunts are nominally to rectify an “overpopulation” of the wolves. In reality, it was sponsered, promoted (screamed for really), and passed, to appease moose and cariboo hunters, primarily from Anchorage and Fairbanks, who wanted “their” game animals protected.

    A little known fact is that the Alaskan RR kills up to twice as many moose every winter on their tracks than do wolves. The moose use the tracks as an easy trail in the winter, along comes the train and the “cow catcher” on the front of the locomotive slams the moose aside to die in the snow on the side of the tracks. No attempt to slow down, or salvage the meat is made.

    At times it is hard not to be ashamed to be a human.

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