A Bill to Ban Aerial Wolf Hunting

wolf huntingI’m fresh off the Long Trail.  Every year, my son and I head into the Vermont woods to be together and to be alone.  These are the best of times.

During my absence some good things happened.  For example, Judge Sotomayor got confirmed.  Plus, a few tentative steps were taken to halt the shooting of wolves from airplanes in Alaska.

Senator Feinstein and Congressman Miller (both CA Democrats) have introduced legislation to ban the shooting of wolves from the air by anyone other than state or federal wildlife employees during declared biological emergencies.

Aerial wolf killing–which Alaskans twice voted to ban only to have their wishes rejected by the State Legislature — is about as far from hunting as CAFOs are from farming.  Furthermore, despite Sarah Palin’s garblings, this issue does not implicate the 2nd Amendment and has nothing to do with Ashley Judd.  It is about using fixed wing aircraft to terrify and then butcher defenseless animals.

Proponents call this practice “predator control.”   Actually, that would make a good title for this bill.  Never have there been predators more in need of control.  Let us wish this bill godspeed as it runs the legislative gauntlet.

More here and here.

–David Cassuto

Wolf-delisting: The Politics of Blood

gray-wolf-gazingGeorge Bush and his peeps thought gray wolves should be delisted as endangered species in Montana and Idaho.  So does Ken Salazar and, we must assume, Barack Obama.  Bush and peeps also thought it okay to ignore allies.  So, apparently, do Ken Salazar and Barack Obama.  But never mind politics.

Wolves were hunted to near extinction in this country due in large part to their (undeserved) reputation as dangerous predators and to the caterwauling of ranchers who like to poison, shoot or trap anything that might eat their animals before people do.  Thanks to the Endangered Species Act and a well-executed reintroduction program in the Northwest (carried out over the vociferous protests of ranchers and others), there are now approximately 1600 wolves in the Northern Rockies.

That, apparently, is too many.  Since Montana and Idaho have pledged to maintain populations of 400 and 500 animals, respectively, wolf-hunting may soon commence.  Supposedly, states can be trusted to create sound management plans for the animals.  Idaho Governor Butch Otter has a plan: kill as many as possible without the wolves being relisted.  You see, wolves eat elk and that means less elk for people to shoot.  It’s a crime perpetrated on the American sportsman.  Upon hearing the news of the imminent delisting, Governor Otter howled with glee and declared, “I’m prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself.”

One wonders if Idaho and Montana will be like Alaska — where “hunters” can shoot wolves from the air.  Or maybe it will just be another classic confrontation of a heavily armed man against an unarmed animal who, when it dies, will almost certainly be attempting to flee.  You see, in the history of the United States, there has never been a fatal attack on a human by a wolf.  Never.

My son is doing a report on wolves for his class.  He has become fascinated by their language, their pack life, and their intelligence.  He is incredulous that they were extirpated from most of the United States and indignant about their undeserved reputation.  Last night, I told him of the Obama Administration’s decision.  He was heartbroken.

dnc