You will notice that Part I is written more from the wolf side. In Part II I will try to explain the reason the hunters hunt wolves. I am asking that you keep an open mind while reading this. I am not writing this to defend or condemn anyone! I am writing this to try to make some sense of this wolf hunting controversy. I do not have all the answers, but I can provide some insight to the many sides of this issue. I do not pretend to know it all, nor am I any kind of expert, but when I learned to take off the blinders and keep an open mind, I learned so much more than would have otherwise been possible. I am very good at research, the journalist in me verifies every fact before it gets published. Whether you agree with my conclusions or not, you cannot deny the veracity of the facts! Opinions are another matter. The following sentence is an opinion…
I have recently come to the conclusion that if wolves had thumbs, we would be goners, or at the very least, we would not be messing with them!
What I would like the Pro hunter side to understand is that most of the people protesting as anti-hunters were taken completely by surprise with this wolf hunt. This does not mean that their horrid comments or death threats should be excused! To be fair though, most of these “city folk” grew up with wolves as the poster child for the endangered species act. They were taught that wolves were almost godlike. It’s hard to let go of a lifetime of believing this. I know I still want to believe they are mystical and magical… All of a sudden, two years ago, wolves were going to be hunted in several states. Wolf management was handed over to a few states, and that news sent a shock wave through the “city folk,” and others. People were somewhat dumbfounded and they reacted in kind. They didn’t know that Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, etc. had been dealing with these introduced invasive wolves for years, all they knew was Loki was getting shot, and no one was prepared for the hate displayed against this once endangered icon by all of those hunting pages. I’m sorry, but there is no other way to say it. All the posts about gut shots, pictures of beaten and bloodied wolves and the comments and celebratory remarks about dead wolves were enough to turn anyone’s stomach, including mine when I first stumbled upon these pages! That is not a judgement or condemnation of anyone, it is just a fact. The picture below was featured on several pages and several hunters tried very hard to make excuses for this trash (my opinion). I’m sorry, but that is how I feel! This one individual has done more harm to the image of hunter/trapper than anyone could possibly imagine! Hunters are quick to point out that what he did was thoroughly investigated and deemed legal, but was it ethical or moral? NNOO!
Love them or hate them, there is a lot to admired about these wolves. I do not think you can deny the fact that within 16 to 17 years, sixty-six wolves introduced into Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho, have come to dominate the wolf population in those areas, and have spread to Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, and we even had one in California. The wolves should not be blamed for their success! The ones who brought them here are at fault. It was they who did the research and chose to introduce the Canis Lupus Occidentalis (Mackenzie Valley Wolf) exactly for the reasons they are so hated these days. It is because they are highly adaptable, thrive in high rugged altitude and rough terrain, and know how to bring down large elk, buffalo and moose, that they were chosen.
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 this wolf an incredible bite force that is strong enough to break the bones of prey and even crack the femur of moose.
That twelve-inch skull also houses a very large brain. They are known to be extremely intelligent. Wolves are known to pass knowledge down from one generation to the next. For 16 to 17 years, these wolves lived unchallenged and were protected by the Endangered Species Act. Now I read stories about wolves being caught in a leg-hold trap, only to be rescued by the wolves of the pack (We now know that wolf packs are family units made up of Mom, Dad, their children, and the pups). There is even more incentive for them to save their family member. The wolf can exert a crushing pressure of perhaps 1,500 lbf/in2 compared to 750 lbf/in2 for a German shepherd. Not only is their bite force strong enough to crack the femur of a moose, it might also be strong enough to bite through a leg-hold trap. It might take a few wolves and a few bites, but the trap can give and the wolf will be free. No wolf in these wolf families will ever be caught in a leg-hold trap again.
There are also many stories about wolves responding to dog calls, distressed animal calls, puppy calls, etc. The one that comes to mind is the cougar hunter whose hunting dogs were killed by a wolf pack after the wolves heard their barking and wailing. Wolves will not allow any other Canid to enter or invade their territory, so they went in search of the dogs and killed them. The hunter, understandably upset, called on his friends to help get those wolves. A hunting dog call was used, and the pack responded, but they quickly realized their mistake. The hunters tried to get them all, but the best they could do was wound one wolf, they think… No sign of the injured wolf or the rest of the pack was ever found, no matter how many calls they used. That pack and its progeny will never be fooled by a call again. Hate them or not, how can you not admire their intelligence!
It is believed that the upper range of a wolf’s hearing is upwards of 80 kHz. The upper range of humans is only 20 kHz and a dog hears at approximately 40 kHz to 60 kHz. It is stated that a wolf can hear up to 6 miles away in forest and 10 miles in open areas, including some high-pitched sounds that even a human can’t hear, in the range where bats and porpoises produce sound. Even when it sleeps, a wolf’s ears stand straight up so it can catch sounds made by other animals at all times. This helps the wolf catch prey, and lets it know when danger is near. Their large, pointed ears act like big scoops to catch lots of sound. Unlike humans, wolves can easily tell what direction sound is coming from by turning their ears from side to side. The direction the ears are pointing when the sound is loudest tells the wolf which direction the sound is coming from, which, among other things, can help them locate rodents under a snow pack.
To be continued…
There are Many Reasons to Admire the Wolf, Even if You Hate Them; Part I