Just for the record, and because there are some very confused hominids out there, this post is not about peak oil, Doomers, the collapse of civilization, near-term climate catastrophe, the end of life as we know it (TEOLAWKI), preparing for the End Times, survival strategies involving organic horticulture, or any other mentally unbalanced bullshit certain "advanced" primates like to obsess over. This post is about Homo sapiens doing what Homo sapiens does, as almost all of my writing is. I will keep making this point until I believe it has been sufficiently understood — Dave
If there's one thing humans can not abide, at least not for very long, it's other predators roaming the landscape. Yes, there are commercial interests to protect, but that's not the whole story. That does not explain why the government proposes to lift Federal protection for gray wolves in all the states which have wolf populations, as this New York Times editorial explains.
KETCHUM, Idaho — IT has been celebrated as one of the great victories of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. After several decades of federal protection, gray wolves — once nearly wiped out in the continental United States — have reached a population of roughly 6,100 across three Great Lakes states and seven Western states.
But this success has been only partial. The centuries-old war against wolves continues to rage, particularly in states where the species has lost federal protection in recent years, as management of wolf populations was turned over to the states.
On Friday, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service put forward a proposal that would make matters even worse. It proposed stripping the remaining federal protections for the gray wolf in the rest of the United States (with the exception of the extremely rare Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New Mexico)...
Wolves are already under state rather than federal control in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, which are home to about 97 percent of the gray wolves in the lower 48 states. Wolf management in those states is often driven by politics, and wolves are being killed at alarming rates in the name of sport in all but Michigan.
For instance, most of the nearly 1,700 wolves surviving in the West lived in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming at the end of 2012. Those states now have recreational hunting and trapping seasons, and in the past two years, nearly 1,200 wolves have been killed. Nearly 400 more were killed for attacking livestock.
Hunting and livestock attacks. That's why the Feds want to lift protection for the Gray Wolf. Consider this quote from the Associated Press story on the Gray Wolf.
Hunting and agriculture groups wary of increasing wolf attacks on livestock and big game welcomed the announcement.
Jack Field, executive vice president of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association and a rancher from Yakima, said he was “ecstatic” over the agency’s announcement and believed it would make his colleagues more willing to accept the presence of wolves on the landscape.
“Folks have to understand that in order to recover wolves, we’re going to have to kill problem wolves,” Field said.
Problem wolves? Does Jack mean wolves doing what wolves do? To save the wolf, we're going to have to kill the wolf. And similarly, from the Vietnam era, it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.
Over the past several years, hunters and trappers killed some 1,600 wolves in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Thousands more have been killed over the past two decades by government wildlife agents responding to livestock attacks.
That’s been a relief for ranchers who suffer regular wolf attacks that can kill dozens of livestock in a single night.
Dozens of livestock in a single night? Uhmm... Here's a quote from the Times editorial.
Last year, wolves killed 645 of the estimated 7 million cattle and sheep in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Those wolves can be killed legally; a federal fund also compensates farmers and ranchers for their losses.
For those of you who like math, the percentage of livestock killed by wolves was 0.00092%.
But that's not the best part. No, the best part is that ranchers are compensated for livestock killed by Gray Wolves. Consider this stuff from AP story Wolf's recovery seen in livestock loss payouts (September 6, 2012).
Minnesota paid out a record $154,136 to residents whose livestock or pets were killed by wolves in the past year, part of a gradual upward trend also seen in Wisconsin and Michigan — all states where the gray wolf came off the endangered list in January...
Minnesota, which has the largest wolf population in the lower 48 states at around 3,000, plans to allow hunters and trappers to take 400 wolves in a season that begins Nov. 3.
Minnesota has paid out a gradually increasing number of claims for wolf depredation over the last several years, mostly for cattle but also for some sheep, turkeys and pet dogs, even a horse and a llama, according to the agriculture department. The $154,136 the state paid in fiscal 2012 was for 111 verified claims.
Hunters will be permitted to kill 400 wolves out of a population of 3000, which is the largest of any state with wolf populations. There were 111 verified claims, a tally which included some turkeys, pet dogs, a horse and a llama.
For those of you who like math, that's 13.3%.
I could go on and on, but I assume you get the point—livestock claims can not fully or even partially explain the overwhelming human need and intense human desire to hunt down Gray Wolves.
A commenter reminded me of this Robert Heinlein quote, which seems like a good way to finish off the week.
Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.
Have a nice weekend.