Don’t Act Stupid
Well, the wolves are ours now. We never wanted them, but found them shoved down our throats in a legal and political sense. That’s all history and today we find the task of wolf management staring us in the face. It’s a good time to be careful with the rifles and refrain from doing anything that would provide the pro-wolf groups with ammunition, so to speak, to use against us.
It’s one thing if wolves are raising Cain around the calving or lambing grounds, a scenario that warrants a response. I also know a number of Wyoming citizens want to be able to shoot, and in some cases have a taxidermist mount, a wolf before a judge overturns current management. I don’t blame them. It’s been frustrating, a helpless feeling, to watch as the wolf population has grown. With the growing wolf population have come increasing impacts on our livestock and wildlife.
I’ve not had wolves in my area, but it certainly doesn’t temper my feelings about them. I have heard numerous personal stories from those whose livelihoods have been threatened by the wolf. Many of us have also heard the stories passed down from older family members. Wyoming has been given the task of managing a killing machine, there’s just no other way to put it.
I was in Jackson last week attending an Ag in the Classroom Western Regional meeting. Early one morning I toured the elk refuge with a wildlife biologist who had some very good thoughts and was not biased against livestock. When we first arrived at the back of the refuge at dawn, my thoughts were “this is really something to see.” There were three large herds of wildlife bedded down. One was a herd of older bull elk, another was the elk cows and the rest were bison. There were around 8,400 elk and around 450 bison. All looked well-fed and waiting for spring to appear. From the back came six wolves trotting through the refuge. I figured things were about to erupt, but much to my amazement nothing happened except a bison or two got up and switched their tails. I was kind of disappointed, but I figured with all of the elk and bison around there had to be a few die each night. Why should the wolves hunt the live ones?
From one corner, out came a large tractor on treads pulling a large feed trailer. Just like home, all the animals stood up when they heard the tractor and rushed to the feed lines. I learned they feed around 50 tons of alfalfa pellets a day. For me, it was by no means a typical wildlife experience.
I can see where wolves have a purpose in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, but I find them much less appealing in other parts of Wyoming. They are here, however, and they have become our responsibility. It’s been a hard-fought battle to get to this point and it’s important that we proceed with caution and smarts. This is no time for actions, by ranchers or by sportsmen, that strengthen the arguments and appeals of pro-wolf groups. The whole nation has its eyes on Wyoming as the transition of wolf management takes place. Let’s not do anything that jeopardizes the new management opportunities that have just recently been put in place.