Wednesday, September 02, 2009

"I just wanted to beat my buddies to the punch"

The wolf hunt in Idaho continues because the judge who has the power to stop it hasn't made up his mind yet. Within hours of the official start of the season, 2 wolves were killed, a female tricked into the open with the sound of a wounded animal, and another who was said to be "harrassing" the hunter's horse.

What makes the wolf hunt so notable is that it is promoted and supported by lies.

Here's one of the lies: "The wolf population in the region has been growing by 20% to 30% every year." Let's look at that number. It's hard to find a hard number for the number of wolves in the region when they were first protected by the Endangered Species Act; some estimates go all the way down to 0. But let's take a very low number: 2. Two wolves, one breeding pair. And let's take the middle of that population growth figure: 25% per year. If that were true, there would be about 5000 wolves in the region, not the 1645 counted recently. Obviously the population has not been growing at the stated rate.

Another lie: "The wolves are wiping out the elk (and other ungulate) populations." This has been distilled into a popular bumper sticker: "Save 100 elk: Kill a wolf". But people with even the slightest knowledge of nature know that wolves do not wipe out their prey populations. They take the old and the sick. Wolves keep the elk populations strong and healthy.

Wolves also eat other animals, not just the big fancy ones that people want to kill themselves. They eat fish; they also eat mice and other rodents. Wolves keep the rodent population under control, thus wolves help farmers.

Shall I keep going? We're supposed to believe that, in Montana, two 80-pound wolves--one of them wounded by a gunshot--killed 120 200-pound rams in one night and --get this-- "piled [them] into a corner" of the pasture. That's an actual quote from the news article in The Missoulian.

But I can make all the arguments I want; the wolf hunt is based on irrationality, fear, and hatred. I don't know how to fight that. I said that yesterday and today I read in the Salt Lake City Tribune that someone with better credentials than I agrees with me:
Western Wildlife Conservancy Director Kirk Robinson called the wolf hunts "expressions of hostility" that aren't based on science.


  1. they sell over 9 thousand licenses to kill 220 wolves? so what happens when the hunters start shooting each other?

  2. Actually, it's over 11 thousand now.