“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer – which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.”
― Farley Mowat, Never Cry Wolf
The issue of wolves is something that one cannot write enough about. The tragic and mindless nature of so many people who make the wolf the target of their personal ignorance and frustration is something that will be a footnote on our present history.
I have thought a lot about this over the past week, as I lost an animal that I have loved and cared for the past twelve years. My dog Sam, a basset hound of irrepressible love, stubbornness and vocal accolades, who had the desire to be the alpha of my own pack of dogs. It was a place that was owned his whole life to my Joseywales, a Pyrenees-Spaniel mix. I write this because basset hounds and Sam in particular are not the type of dog that everyone can understand, tolerate or love.
Sam to begin with was special, he needed lots of attention, and he was rather grumpy and aggressive at times when other dogs were in my home. Friends often scolded me for not training him better or keeping him quiet after he expressed himself in an aggressive and fraternal manner. His life was not always easy as people felt a need to try and train him, or enforce their own sense of discipline despite my objections.
I mention all of this in the context of the wolf. For the wolf, much like my Sam, remain maligned by those who think they know better. By those that feel all animals must fit perfectly into their vision of a structured and disciplined animal norm. That of course was not going to be Sam, nor will it be wolves. What strikes me as interesting is that in truth it is the human ego that needs the adjustment, and without it, animals like wolves will remain the hunted, the crucified, likely for the basic lack of understanding that remains pervasive.
It’s funny when you consider what so many people see as orderly wildness. For them it is a place of roads, off-road vehicles in a land filled with deer and elk. Its orderly, nothing left to chance. But that is not nature; it might as well be Manhattan, with pavement and signs, lots of people and police on every corner.
Nature is unpredictable, it is wild, there are no roads, there are predators, rivers flow and bugs bite. Often you climb mountains or ridges for a view. At night as you sleep, sounds ping across the landscape filled with the voices of those who call it home. You sometimes encounter wolves, bears, and cougars, who give you a sense of wildness. It’s something that registers in your heart and defines your soul.
Animals are meant to have a sense of wildness, some are defined by wildness. In my home, the last few days, there has been an eerie silence. My boy has crossed the rainbow bridge, where one day I hope to run and laugh and play with his magnificent ears once again.
We all should want this for wolves, not to play with them, rather to allow them to be wolves; to howl, to hunt, to run in packs and be themselves, wild and unpredictable.
Perhaps a more specific goal is for people to evolve, to stop holding onto a anthropomorphic vision of how animals should behave and which ones should be allowed to live or die. All animals, even my Sam are not designed to fit into a perfect mold. They are alive, still holding onto a sense of wildness, far deeper than humans. They are a beacon of hope that continues to ask us to simply let them live, and perhaps even begin to learn from them rather than be humanized.
We are, as Farley Mowat proclaimed, the root of the evil and that evil is the reflection of our arrogance and sense of moral superiority. We are wrong.
I am blessed to have owned what some would see as a flawed animal, for I learned and loved from one of the best, and discovered what so many cannot understand, the pure love that comes from animals.
Wolves are perhaps the best reflection of wildness, their freedom to live wild and roam is essential not just to their survival, but to ours. We must open our hearts to understanding and allow the arrogance to flow away with the rivers that bisect the wild lands that are home to the nerve center of our own survival-Wilderness.
Bold Visions Conservation is creating a film to educate the public about the importance of reforming state Game and Fish Departments. These relics of the 19th century continue their assault on wildlife; supporting trapping, hound hunting, bear baying, even wolf and grizzly slaughter in some states.
Most recently, they are refusing to renew permits to release wolves in the wild here in New Mexico, endangering the existence of the Mexican gray wolf.
In the coming weeks we will interview elected officials, fellow conservation activists and sportsmen, to create a documentary that will challenge peoples thinking about the way these state agencies are funded and what their mandate really is.
We have to move away from elk and deer farms and allow true biodiversity and refuse to allow commissions to be filled with livestock, radical hunting and oil and gas interests. We need real conservationists, and real science!
We are asking for your help in raising $4500 dollars we need to research, travel the state, interview and edit this film. This is clearly a bare bones budget, but your help is needed to make this film a reality.
Please take a moment to consider a donation; your support will help to end the brutal practices state Game and Fish departments nationwide continue to wage against innocent wildlife.
Our promise is to make a film that has real impact and to begin travelling the West to make the case for ending the way this agency operates-period.
Your gift of $25, $50 or $500 can make this film a reality!
Many thanks in advance for your support!
Stephen Capra, Executive Director
By Wesley Leonard / Chairman, Bold Visions Conservation
Published in the Albuquerque Journal, Friday, August 7, 2015 at 12:02 am
New Mexico is fortunate to be the home of numerous and diverse wildlife species. The state agency tasked with protecting New Mexico’s wildlife, the N.M. Game and Fish department, is, however, focused on making sure that a few selected game species are available for hunters.
This emphasis on elk and deer is at the expense of other species, especially apex predators, such as bears, mountain lions and wolves.
This is driven in part by the department being funded through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses rather than from the state’s general fund.
Only 4 percent of New Mexicans are hunters. Accordingly, the other 96 percent have little say in department policies.
An example of this lack of input is that the department encourages children to take up trapping, which often results in animals, some domestic, suffering in steel leg traps for days.
The department also does not oppose animal killing contests, but does oppose the reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf. Numerous polls have shown overwhelming support by New Mexicans for wolf reintroduction and against trapping.
The department is overseen by a seven-member politically appointed commission with no expertise in scientific wildlife management. All members are hunters, and most have ties to ranching, and oil and gas corporations, as well as extreme right wing organizations.
The previous chairman, rancher Scott Bidegain, was charged with illegal hunting and forced to resign. He and other commissioners have also been involved in animal killing contests.
All this points to a commission and department that are completely out of touch with the values of most New Mexicans!
So what can be done to bring wildlife management into the 21st century? First, the manner in which the department is funded must change. Revenue from the sale of licenses should go into the general fund and department funding should become a part of the regular budget process.
To increase revenue, an outdoor recreation fee on the sale of outdoor gear and equipment should be established by the Legislature. This would help put the interests of the 96 percent of New Mexicans who do not hunt on par with the 4 percent who do.
Next, the makeup of the commission must be changed to reflect the values of all New Mexicans.
By law, the commission should be required to have members that represent conservation, non-game species, scientific wildlife management and the environment, as well as hunting and fishing.
Politics has no place in wildlife management.
Making these changes will not be easy. Nevertheless, now is the time to start the conversation on how best to bring wildlife management into the 21st century.
The past week has once again shown the true savagery of man. While we focus on a mass-murderer from Minnesota who killed Cecil the Lion, men and woman like him seem to feel they are part of a very select circle, entitled to kill the most beautiful and important species of all to fulfill their twisted self-images.
The time has long since come to stop the killing of wildlife. If one pays $30, $ 40, or $350,000 dollars to hunt, they will get to kill. Outfitters, that other lowbred group of people make sure their client is happy, drunk, well fed and pumped up to kill! This is little more than giving a 16 year old the keys to a porche, we know the outcome.
The animal dies, the animals dies.
Like serial killers, I am afraid that all this publicity over this recent killing gives a certain group of people a lust to kill a lion. This in many ways represents how some cannot understand an emotional connection to animals. They see them not as equals, but as lesser beings. Such ego driven and emotionally devoid thinking is what has been a driving force of species extinction for generations.
Equally disturbing is those that kill for a trophy. This ghoulish pastime and the rooms they create represent pain and suffering beyond measure, yet for them it is a room of pride for their twisted minds.
In another 200 years people ask: How? Why?
There is a pattern, though it is not conclusive. Many work in the oil industry or other extractive fields that destroy the earth without question while others come from wealthy families, many republican. Most are men. Naturally that is changing, as we see more and more woman standing next to a giraffe that a moment earlier was eating from a tree. Now with fresh makeup she stands beaming over its lifeless body, destroyed for what?
We see the same acted out every hunting season in America, with every wolf that writhes in pain in a trap. The smiling photo of a deranged human posing over that innocent animal, who so richly deserves life--not a cruel death--at the hands of a monster.
Several groups are demanding that the Dentist be sent back to Zimbabwe to be charged; he certainly should and may jail await him. But that will not bring back Cecil. We must stop these human killers, because their killing of precious wildlife goes beyond just the act. It permeates their thinking, their judgement, and their relationships. Murder is murder. We are impacted by the killing of rhinos, whales, bears and wolves! They are representative of the world we all love and want to be a part of. Allowing a select group of people to kill is little more than the off-gassing of the putrid, and should not be part of our modern society.
In the weeks and months ahead look for groups like the Safari Club and other hunting groups to rally and speak of their environmental credentials in helping species. They will push to keep all hunting, even of rare species alive. Culture will be a clear part of the messaging. Part of their sick society is the frat club mentality that one must pursue the next kill, to collect a rarer species to be part of their club.
The real question is when we will understand that this is not “OUR” planet. We are merely custodians, with a clear responsibility, from the Bible to science to share this planet and respect all life.
Rather than making heroes of those that kill wildlife, they should be jailed, shunned and financially bankrupted, for it matches their moral and emotional bankruptcy.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Lions and tigers and bears...
Why are we allowing them to die and for what? We as a society are being warned: Failure to act is no longer acceptable. We are losing not just the species, but their habitat. Before long, the trophy rooms their murders create will be the only reminder of their time on earth, unless we act boldly.
Today we hear some complain that “too much attention is focused on an animal, not enough on human needs. Let me remind everyone that 99% of all charitable giving goes to human needs; once again that number skews the reality of need on this planet.
The real question is: Have we finally reached a tipping point on allowing such indiscriminant killing? There are four white rhinos left, how many black, elephants are being slaughtered, and lions are being canned and crushed. What more can we allow with the shadow of the bison and the heartbeat of the wolf staring our humanity down.
Wildlife is our partner on this earth. They are the joy and beauty that defines our lands, skies and oceans. We are heading towards an intensely lonely existence if we allow ignorance and false bravado to prevail. All lives matter, especially those who cannot speak for themselves.
Last night the Empire State Building cast the images of endangered species from its façade. It was powerful, and yet reflected the irony of our sense of reverence for species that are clinging to survival.
What we need are the images of those who kill broadcast world-wide and jails and prisons to await those who refuse to share the life that makes our planet whole. Let those human killers rot.
Stop the killing, Stop it now!
Bold Visions Conservation