Public lands belong to all Americans and are repositories and sanctuaries for the last of our imperiled, fragmented wildlife populations. Few places left in the US, or the world for that matter, still have enough open, largely undisturbed land to support genetically, behaviorally and ecologically functional populations of an alarmingly number of native species, like wild, free-roaming bison, wild horses, sage grouse – Or those embattled, scapegoated, favorite whipping-boys of the malcontended, our magnificent wolves.
The state of Washington just disappointed the world and proved it’s not the enlightened, wildlife-conscious place we thought it was, when they sent helicopters into wildlands to gun down a mother wolf and a packmate – All because they might have preyed on some cattle that were turned loose (and left unattended) on our public lands. Turned loose to dine on our native flora, decimate our public range, compete with our native wildlife, on our dime, so the owner could make money off us. A press release from the Center for Biological Diversity describes the incident later in this post.
As is the case with the BLM roundups of our (supposedly) federally-protected wild horses, the driving force behind this sniper-attack on an intelligent, emotional, highly-social and family-oriented species was – Greed. Along with mining, drilling, logging and fracking, livestock agriculture is a huge, powerful and well-funded lobby. Without even questioning how many of the corporations running these destructive, lethal industries are based here in the US, or are foreign, the fact is that our public lands are for ALL Americans, in perpetuity, so you and I can enjoy open spaces, clean air and water, peace and communion, and an intact, fully-functioning ecosystem complete with actual wildlife like wolves and bears, prairie dogs and wild horses, rattlesnakes, tricolored blackbirds, eagles and butterflies.
Not cattle and sheep.
You can learn more about the selling-out of those government officials who are supposed to protect our wildlife, by watching both parts of this video report on the wild horse issue. (You will see that the fate of wolves and wild horses is ominously similar).
It’s bad enough that our human population and outrageous American consumerism are rapidly ruining everything in our path – Even things as lovely, simple and wholesome as back-yard horse properties and fireflies are vanishing faster than teens create new apps.
But the real problem is that we’re not just catapulting our planet into a warming cycle that will not support human life. Even without climate change, we have been responsible for already scrubbing out more than half the biodiversity on the planet. That’s a serious problem, because biodiversity is our savings account, our safe-deposit box, our pharmacy, our hedge against future disasters, as well as our artistic and spiritual well-spring.
Biodiversity means wolves, elephants, lichens, fungi, blackbirds, prairie dogs, and tuna, worms, snakes, plants, algaes, and every organic living thing on the planet.
Yet it’s all being wiped out by greed, and wholesale looting, and we’re losing species before science has even had a chance to describe, name or learn of them.
So when a state or federal government issues an appalling, unscientific and intolerant order to aerial-gun a Momma wolf and her mates to death, just to satisfy the pocket of a welfare rancher, when our decision-makers are willing to not only sacrifice but exterminate our non-human neighbors because we just can’t stand anything interfering with our wants, our reckless, frantic greed and selfishness, we should all be very concerned.
Humans are not ‘better’.
‘Animals’ are not lesser.
Just because they are ‘animals’, just because certain selfish and intolerant people keep perpetuating a distorted and dark myth about the wild brethren of our beloved house dogs, doesn’t mean it’s OK to treat them like vermin. There is no ‘tier-system’ among species. When we begin designating one, with ourselves at the top and everything else below, we leave the door wide open for deeper and deeper bias.
Remember that certain groups of humans have been (and still are) marginalized, demonized and persecuted, even exterminated, as somehow ‘lesser’. No wonder we feel justified in creating a tier-system of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ species. Then we become enablers of our unique new form of mass murder, speciescide. And so we shoot Mama wolves and their families (packs are nothing but extended families) because we want to be able to turn our helpless future hamburgers out into the wilderness, alone, to fatten for our convenience.
Once one of these incidents of wildlife management malpractice manages to slip by without a public outcry, the government collusion with big Industry just becomes emoldened, more empowered. And more dangerous.
We need to stop this, now. Before another wolf dies. Before another wild horse, or mountain lion, or pup-fish, or prairie dog is ground under the heel of human ‘entitlement’. And we need to ensure that wildlife is legally protected from other industry and/or government ‘control’ actions, like this one, ever happening again.
To be fair, not all farmers are bad guys. Some of them are cooperating in the rescue effort to save species. In fact, those tricolor blackbirds mentioned earlier? They’ve gone from ubiquitous, with flocks big enough to block the sun, to candidates for the endangered species list. They’ve lost virtually all the places they used to breed and nest to human development. The few places left in California with enough appropriate habitat to sustain the last tricolor blackbirds on Earth are – Dairy cattle farms.
It can be done.
All it takes is willingness.
Read the full, unedited press release from the Center for Biological Diversity:
Helicopter Gunners Kill Two Wolves in Northeastern Washington
PORTLAND, Ore.— The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced late today that aerial gunners have killed two adult members of the Profanity Peak wolf pack in northeast Washington, including the pack’s breeding female.
“Washington state just made things worse, not better by killing these two wolves,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Not only is it a tragedy to have these two beautiful wolves wiped out — by gunners in helicopters of all things — but there’s very strong science showing that killing a breeding animal can sometimes cause a wolf pack to split into several packs or dissolve altogether, disrupting their social order and even spurring additional conflicts with wildlife.”
The kill order was issued following investigations concluding the wolves recently killed three calves and a cow and that three other calf deaths are probable wolf kills. All of the losses occurred on public lands grazing allotments, in territory occupied by the Profanity Peak pack. The decision was made under the guidelines of a new lethal removal protocol that was agreed to this spring by the state Wolf Advisory Group, a stakeholder group convened by the Department of Fish and Wildlife that includes agency staff and representatives from the ranching, hunting and conservation community.
Despite the provisions of the Wolf Lethal Removal Protocol that was recently agreed to by the wolf advisory group, indicating that incremental lethal removal is the preferred avenue, the agency now has sharpshooters on the ground trying to kill more pack members.
“This wolf-killing operation is unfolding in a really disturbing way,” Weiss said. “If wolves are going to ever have a hope of recovering in Washington state, we need to rethink how these kinds of operations are being carried out.”
*As a fundraiser to help our wolves, the author is giving 50% or more of all proceeds of this wolf T-shirt to the Center’s Wolf Defense Fund. You can buy your T-shirt here, or donate directly to the Center for Biological Diversity.