August 26, 2009

Inside the minds of the wolf warriors

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For fascinating insight into the psyche of the wolf hunt, read Ralph Bartholdt’s profile of three wolf warriors – the hunter, the wolf advocate and the regulator in NewWest. Both Idaho and Montana have approved wolf hunts to begin in September, and environmentalists have sued to stop the hunts. A judge will hear arguments in federal court next Monday.

As hunter John Walters sees it, the gray wolf was dumped into Idaho by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1995, leaving elk herds at the mercy of a super predator. The wolves are the reason for the decimation of the elk herds in at least two of the state’s wildlife management units, he says.

For the past two winters he has shot photos of the dead elk he’s found with the nose and hindquarters eaten, a telltale sign, he says, of a wolf kill.

Not so, says wolf advocate Stephen Alexander.

“There are almost no other animals that have been persecuted to the extent that wolves have,” he says. “All this discussion has to do with us as human beings,” he continues. “It’s about us and what is our relationship to the natural world.  

“We are the super predators. We don’t tolerate competition very well. This is more of a self examination about us as a species and where we are going.”

Now hear the voice of Idaho Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Tony McDermott:

“This is the most contentious social, political, emotional, irrational subject that I have ever been involved with. The irrationality on both sides of this astounds me.”

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