I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me when I say I get hung up on things. Right now, that thing is whether shooting a wolf is an ethical decision. After all, taking another creature’s life is a serious issue. So, I read several articles, and this, I believe, is the most balanced.
Originally printed in Montana Outdoors and republished on the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks website, it concludes that hunting wolves is ultimately in their best interest. It ensures their long term survival, because, without regulated harvest, anti-wolf anger from loss of cattle and elk would result in increased pressure from hunters and ranchers to “treat the wolves like varmint that could be shot anytime, year-round.” Turns out F,W,P just might know what they’re doing, and people should consider their decision on tag prices and season lengths as a reflection of that.
Additionally, I’ve concluded, partially on an intuitive hunch, that it’s also best for the health of the ecosystem. Another article, which is well-written though a little conspiratorial, provides compelling anecdotes from outfitters, stating that elk numbers are plummeting in major sections of the Bob Marshall Wilderness since wolf reintroduction. “It’s not good. It’s really bad…The Bob has been lost!” One shared in anguish.
I would have dismissed the claims, because, my thinking was, nature did just fine maintaining a balance pre-humans. The Bob, big as it is, would surely auto-correct and be perfectly right without us. But here’s where my intuition kicks in…We are here, and more importantly, so are our livestock. Wolves can range 10-30 miles a day in search of food and just outside the park boundaries lie cattle, sheep, llamas— whatever the heck people of Montana are keeping. So, whenever the most vulnerable, mostly young, elk are all weeded out and wolves would normally starve, they can now stalk over the boundary, live till the next season, and throw that neat equilibrium all out of whack.
The larger point I get out of all this: humans serve a pivotal role in the natural environment, at once above and apart of it. On a late night walk, we might make a perfect snack for a mountain lion, but we are also compelled to steward that which we’ve inherited…
I’m buying a wolf tag.