by Stephen Capra
As the year comes to a close, we focus not just on the year ahead, but on what has transpired. The year for conservation focused on many issues and Paris rises to the top of many peoples thinking. Yet, in my heart the focus remains the Grey and Mexican wolves of the West, they are the flesh and soul, the living, breathing wildness that we continue to lose at the hands of ignorance.
From the heart of the Lamar Valley to the ponderosa pines of the Gila, the prints are in the mud and the elk are on the move. As the snow flies the packs are working their magic, working in unison to bring balance to our natural world.
Here in New Mexico, while our Governor gets drunk and eats pizza, her hand-picked assassins on the Game Commission continue their efforts to kill the lifeblood of our forests. No matter the Western State, we see Game Commissions that continue to appeal to the lowest common denominator of our human species. With traps set across the West, we are witness to the persecution of a species that future generations will review with disgust and anger.
It was not so long ago on the Great Plains of our once self-sustaining nation that we stood by and allow a slaughter. The reasons, as we have explored, are many, but the senseless killing is something that generations hence have looked at and asked why?
Yet here we are little more than 100 years removed and we continue to kill that which we know must be part of the fabric of our wildlands. What makes this worse is that science and the evolution of biodiversity make it clear that we cannot allow this to continue, and yet it does. The sin we now witness is far worse than that of generation long ago, because today we cannot blame ignorance.
Meeting an animal in the wilderness is such a special experience. Be it a bear or a wolf, perhaps a mountain lion, that feeling of wildness is palatable; the smell can also be part of this moment. But frankly for me, it has been those seconds where time stands still, where our eyes meet. To see an animal of such beauty, such raw power so very alive in your presence is perhaps one of nature’s true gifts to humans. How then I wonder, do some choose such a moment to kill?
But the moment to kill comes from hundreds of miles of away, it comes in sterile meetings, it fills television screens, it can be found at sporting goods stores that promote the killing of predators, but it comes from the hands of man.
In the Lamar valley the snow is getting deeper, as the pack moves swiftly under the growing moon, an older bison has broken a leg and stands in the icy water preparing to meet its fate. The natural world, like the human one is not always pretty, the images are sometimes hard to witness, but the outcome in the natural world is designed to yield balance.
In our human controlled world, we have strived for generations not for balance, but for control, control of all aspects of wildness because of our innate fear of the natural world. Nowhere does that fear linger longer than with the species that has tried to teach us the concept of balance for millennium, that species is the wolf.
As we close the door on another year and prepare for 2016, it is the wolf that is telling us that balance is what we must seek. But balance in this case is to move the human world in a new and vital direction, one that allows us to relinquish control of the natural world that we continue to try and dominate. Allowing species to live free and wild and controlling humans rather than wildlife is the key to finding real balance and allowing the space for wolves to truly coexist.
Bold Visions Conservation