Connelly: A Different Opinion On Protecting Wolves
Commentary: I’m writing in response to the latest, "oh poor wolf” commentary. Usually you publish verbatim a comment by the Center for Biological Diversity. This commentary, by David Forjan, I suppose is meant to elicit sympathy from city dwelling animal lovers, but it would be nice if they had some facts straight.
First, the poor wolf who lost its mate when it was recaptured was not allowed to choose— it got the mate the well meaning scientists chose for it, probably genetically important but completely missing the point that while a male wolf will opportunistically mate with a she wolf in estrus, that does not a family make. The gov’s own monthly reports often list packs that have split up or been abandoned by one adult. God’s families apparently like to choose their own mates. If your commentators are going to continue anthromorphizing wolves, let’s let them date and mate as humans and actual wild animals do.
The blatant disregard for any life but the glorious wolf is what has produced the lack of success this program is plagued with. The original poor wolf story in this series had a comment about wolves killing “the occasional cow” and blaming this on ranchers unwilling to try new techniques to protect their herds. Well, let’s see. The much vaunted red electric fencing tape costs $8,000/mile and has the wallop of a tickle to a child’s hand. A friend’s neighbor’s tot loved to play with it. Then there are range riders, who unfortunately can’t ride at night, when most of the attacks happen. The newest claim by the pro wolf livestock experts is that because only 2% of cow deaths are from wolves that it’s not a problem. Try telling that “occasional cow” story to the NM rancher who lost 13 cows in one year to wolves. It’s this bending of facts, using a national statistic that includes cows in stockyards and all over wolfless cattle country as though it applies here, that delegitimizes the program. How much of that rancher’s time will be spent trying to verify wolf kills and getting reimbursed, replacing cows used to the country with ones who aren’t? What happens to his/her bottom line when the calves all have low birth weights due to stress from the mothers being stalked, if not attacked?
Ranchers, besides providing water and salt to wildlife, are used to predators. If this program had begun with a realistic way for cattle losses to be covered and seen ranchers as allies instead of continually villifying them and becoming the pawns of the “rewilding” anti rural people/community zealots, it might have had a chance.
Anyone who thinks ridding the forest of cows is a victory for the land hasn’t really thought through the entire process. Usually, a rancher with a grazing permit who loses it or has to quit ranching because of livestock losses to wolves then ends up selling his private land ranch, and usually the only people who can afford it are land developers. So a ranch with one or two houses, one or two wells and a few roads becomes a subdivision with 10-20+ houses with their own wells, roads and fences, but that’s better for the environment??
It’s always surprised me that the news organization for a land grant university with a such a strong agricultural college publishes this one sided nonsense. God loves cow families too. Where is the concern for the cattle attacked and eaten alive, and their pain? Nope, it’s only the poor wolf. If you actually wrote articles providing both sides of this issue, now that would truly be a service.