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Of Wolf And Man: Hunting wolves is not the answer in the West 

In the September 24 issue of The Source, "Off Target: Conservationists' opposition to hunting wolves is wrongheaded," Mike Medberry criticizes conservationists for filing a lawsuit to protect wolves, while portraying himself as a pro-hunting conservationist. To extol the bloodshed and death involved in hunting under the guise of conservation is a popular but absurd paradox.

I have taken the time to meet face-to-face with the hunters who have the most bloodlust in this current debate, and I can tell you they have not lost an ounce of the fervor it took to quarter wolves for fun a century ago. These are the people Medberry directly or indirectly supports by saying it's time to hunt wolves.

Bottom line: The 6th mass extinction is being caused by an over-population of humans. Yet if we're not too busy ignoring it, we still find ways to defend and perpetuate the perplexing violence against other species.

Men, in their role as God, actually came up with the term "non-essential, experimental" to describe reintroduced wolves. Combine heart with an open mind and one sees wolves as more than an experiment, or a target; one sees an animal as socially bonded to its family as we are to ours. Their striking likeness to ourselves is what draws us to them. To allow sport-hunting of such an animal, particularly given our history with wolves, is indefensible, and no amount of science, biology or mathematics will ever change that. Wolves regulate themselves. Nature regulates wildlife. Nature will ultimately regulate us.

This is the crucial point that Medberry misses. Wolves don't need management. People need management. Humanity must learn to accept limits. Self-control and tolerance will make for a much better world.

Medberry claims wolves now fill nearly all of their original niches. Is he joking? Wolves once roamed from east coast to west, New York, Billings, Boise, the beach in L.A., land now farmed, grazed, buried under golf course and concrete. This is our most critical problem - we don't remember how things ought to be. The very idea that we should decide the numbers of wolves allowed to exist overlooks the depth, range and complexity of millions of years of evolution. In Yellowstone, a supposed haven for wolves, numbers are dropping because of disease and inbreeding, nature's reaction to a lack of space.

Hunting wolves is merely part of erroneous welfare subsidies for consumptive groups in control of federal policy. The recent $40,000 taxpayer dollars conceded by two Oregon counties for an executioner to be put to work killing predators is another part of this hideous system, hangover of a bygone era involving wagons.

Medberry extols the success of the reintroduction program through the typically masculine, microscopic viewpoint of numbers alone, failing to consider the suffering wolves endured during capture, the separation from family, drugging, tagging, collaring, transport, the unreported deaths beginning already in Canada, disorientation of release into unfamiliar territory, the mortalities it took to re-inhabit this land under man's new rules (like don't eat cows or sheep, nor elk or deer), the ongoing, heavy-handed management and "control," i.e. killing by federal agents who are paid salaries for what others do for sport. Success is relative. Creating corridors for natural migration would have been a far more cost-effective and humane way of allowing them back, but people need jobs.

Considering the history of wolves, their torture and persecution during their slaughter as well as their reintroduction, for Medberry to say that "WE" have paid dearly to have wolves returned to "our" land is outrageous in its blanketed arrogance reminiscent of what we did to the Indians along the way. And this is his argument for raising the price of a wolf tag? From $11.50 to $150, "or as much as" wowee $1,000! If I pay $2,000 can I shoot a hunter? Who on earth has the right to value life by numbers? Science has destroyed more in this world than spirit ever did.

We are all the victims of the prejudices of our time. During this time, it is that we have the right, the obligation, to control other species, to exercise dominion over them. With wildlife so utterly marginalized, tormented, so tragically diminished, a far wiser gesture would be to manage ourselves, to leave pockets of wilderness with predators and prey, their own codes of conduct in tact from ancient relationships that precede us by millennia. When the world screams a warning of extinction to accept limits, let us begin with wolves, a species whose history exemplifies the ignorance and arrogance of man. Let's support those aiming to protect, not kill, and let's at last call hunting by its true name: Murder. - Vanessa Schulz

Schulz has produced award-winning documentaries on the federal government's role in wolf reintroduction and predator control programs. Visit www.21paradigm.com for more information.

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