It seemed to come out of nowhere! Some states were planning to allow wolf hunting and many were also going to allow trapping and snaring. Horrified people were flooding the internet trying to find out what happened and Facebook exploded with anti-hunter and pro hunter pages. It did not take long for insults and accusations to start flying. Both sides were pushing out information, and soon there was also a lot of misinformation being written, read, believed, and then cited as fact. It is getting worse daily.
I am a wolf lover. I think I have always been a wolf lover. To me they are ancient and wise creatures that hold a magical power and a mystical beauty. There is something spiritual about them as they glide silently through the night. Then suddenly, they start to howl; a beautiful sound, much like a well-orchestrated symphony in perfect tune with each other. If you close your eyes and really listen, you will begin to recognize the individual howl of each wolf. If you are really lucky you might be able to hear another howl; this one from farther away. Your imagination takes over; is it friend or is it foe you wonder?
There are others who vehemently hate the wolf. As avid hunters, they blame the wolf for a severe decline in ungulate herds (deer, elk and moose). Most are decent hard working people just like you and me, not the cold callous killers many have accused them of being. They love their families, their homes, their pets, but, a few of them happen to live in an area where wolves were introduced. These wolves kill their livestock, their pets, their game, and frighten their children. They truly believe that the introduced wolves released in Yellowstone and Idaho are not the native grey or American Timber Wolf that used to roam the Rockies (Canis Lupus Irremontus, also known as CL Nubilus), but a different species captured from the Northwest Territories of Canada, the Mackenzie Valley Wolf (Canis Lupus Occidentallis). It turns out they are right!
No one dies knowing everything there is to know. Life is a learning experience. From the day you are born until you die, you are capable of learning new things, and I have accepted a long time ago that I do not know everything! It was time for me to lose the blinders and do some research! The hateful diatribe so prevalent in our last election had begun to rear its ugly head in this controversy. Democracy demands that we treat each other with respect, even though we don’t always agree. My mission was clear; it was time to stop the hate and open the lines of communication.
The first day I got a massive headache! Independent and impartial reports are few and far between. Each narrative was written to support the data the writer believed to be true. It was clear that there was little, if any, unbiased information from credible sources. Even the scientists seemed to have an agenda, but because these were the resources I had, I attempted to extract the facts. There are reports from U.S, Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, USDA Wild life Services, the Nez Perce Tribe, scientists, biologist, wildlife experts, livestock experts, hunting experts, wolf management experts, state government agencies, university professors, hunting outfitters and guides, self-taught experts, those who say are experts, self-interest groups, the list goes on and on and on… With persistence I was able to glean these facts.
There was previously thought to be 32 – 36 subspecies of gray wolf In North America. They were grouped by size and location, getting larger as they moved up in latitude, but in 1974, all wolves, no matter their location or size, were listed as just Canis Lupus, and were declared an Endangered Species. With their ancestral territories, size, and disposition no longer part of the equation; it was easy to dismiss the varying sizes of the sub-species.
The Mexican Grey Wolf, known as Canis Lupus Baileyi, Which inhabited Mexico and some of the southwestern United States weighed between 40 to 80 pounds.
The Red Wolf, known as Canis Lupus Rufus, inhabited Arizona and New Mexico and all the way to the east coast to North Carolina. They weighed between 60 to 80 pounds.
The Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf, the Great Lakes Wolf and the Great Plains wolf are all Canis Lupus Nubilus… These wolves weigh between 60 to 125 pounds and are our iconic Timber wolf.
The Southern Rocky Grey Wolf, Canis Lupus Youngi, weighed between 60 to 100 pounds, and is now extinct.
The Mackenzie Valley wolf (Canis Lupus Occidentallis), sometimes called the Canadian Timber wolf. It is one of the largest of the Grey Wolf species. They can weigh between 80 to 175 pounds, or as much as the feared and extinct Dire wolf, which weighed between 125-175 pounds.
The Mackenzie Valley Wolf (Canis Lupus Occidentallis) was the subspecies used in the Yellowstone and Idaho introduction effort. Mackenzie Valley Wolves typically stand about 32–34 inches at the shoulder. Its thick long limbs are proportionally built for traversing through rough terrain such as deep snow or the cliffy edges of the Rocky Mountains. Its deep chest hosts large lungs, letting it breathe more efficiently at higher altitudes, and allowing it to exert huge amounts of stamina, traveling up to 70 miles in one day. Its powerful neck is a very important adaptation (note the word adaption); it has to be strong to support the wolf’s large head and is crucial for bringing down prey. The skull is 12 inches long and is armed with an impressive array of large canines and carnassial teeth which, when coupled with huge jaw muscles give it an incredible bite force that is strong enough to break the bones of prey and even crack the femur of moose.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service picked this wolf specifically because of its ability to bring down large ungulates like Elk, Moose, and Bison, which were considered, over-populated in Yellowstone and Central Idaho, but was that the only criteria? Did they not understand that there was other scientific data that showed that any non-native introduced species was bound to become an invasive species because that was the very nature of the beast! Trapping 66 animals and stealing them from their home and families is said to have had no impact on the wolf population in Canada. No thought was given to how these wolves were affected…
It seems the hardest part in all of this to answer is the Why? When you get to the “Why?” question, you do not find the answers, just more questions.
There is more oil in the Rocky Mountains than in all of the middle east… can you say fracking?
“Follow the money…” I hear my husband whisper… “It’s always the money…”
…to be continued…