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Keeping the Howl Alive

Stephen Capra, Bold Visions Conservation

As we move into summer, the wolves and their young are exploring and traveling across the public lands that allow them to thrive. It is a time of joy and even play. Yet outside the boundaries of Yellowstone, the steps they take are far from protected.

Many people ask, what does it take to stop this madness? The answers remain complex but obvious. We need people in positions of authority, like Interior Secretary Haaland, to stop playing politics with wolves. She has had more than enough time to come to the only logical decision she could make-Wolves in the Northern Rockies must be re-listed.

Martha Williams, Director of US Fish and Wildlife, should recuse herself from any discussion on wolves or grizzly bears based on her past support for killing both species while running Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The agency has an obligation to not allow grizzly hunting, and they should be questioning the science used to count wolves-the IPom, which has been shown to not be effective in counting wolves, which I will explain in detail in future articles.

What continues to be lacking when we deal with wildlife agencies is the constant push to allow sportsmen to kill; what is missing is the feelings of these intelligent and vibrant species. What I mean by that is can anyone look into the face of an animal and come away with the notion that they do not display several distinct feelings or emotions such as interest, joy, surprise, anger, grief, or even shyness, for example? They make statements like "Wolves can put up with a 40 percent harvest because they reproduce quickly-Really? What does a pack feel when they lose a member? And it is definitely time to review the science of what actually does happen to the pack when they lose a member, especially an alpha male. What happens when they see a mate suffering in a trap? Is it fair or sporty to use calling devices or place bait at the edge of Yellowstone? Why are so-called sportsmen not being called out for their sick actions?

The reasoning is simple: agencies cover for unethical hunters and trappers tracks and allow the slaughter to continue. At the federal level, it is a disgrace that Democrats allow such brutality to wildlife. Why emulate that which Republican lawmakers have perfected?

Having just spent more than two months lobbying at the state legislature, it is obvious that lawmakers see wildlife much like a corn crop; thus, terms like harvesting are used when in reality, these are living, breathing animals that feel pain and have emotion. Something lawmakers have ridiculed me for even voicing.

We also must push people used to an old-school mentality and understand that wildlife has feelings. Trappers tell me that wildlife cannot feel pain. For many, that is accepted. When I asked one of them if he ever stepped on his dog's foot, he said yes. I asked whether they yelped, but he had no response other than to say, "Dogs are not wildlife."

We must force wildlife agencies and those that hunt and profit from wildlife to accept that some species should never be hunted; wolves and grizzlies come to mind. They are self-regulating and do not need the interference that man forces in their lives. Only then can we stop the destruction elected officials and agencies allow while ignoring the reality that we are now in the 21st century: a time where we must fight for and protect, not execute them, our most valuable and beautiful species.

To win, we must think outside the box; I know we will continue to think with a view of how we change this in our lifetime. Doing all of the above could take generations. But we must continue to make our voices heard and fight like hell.

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