Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Manage people, not wolves

Killing half of Idaho's current wolf population as is being discussed by the state of Idaho because they kill a few calves or sheep or have changed the distribution patterns of elk or deer is not about wildlife man-agement. It is about control and the antiquated beliefs of a small minority of Idahoans. It is an immoral violent act that has no practical benefit for the major-ity of Idaho's population. It is a reflection of an old and out-dated mentality that has no place in a community that val-ues wild animals, their habitat or healthy environments.

It is inevitable that human beings must kill animals for their benefit, but killing wild animals in an already dimin-ished environment for the benefit of a few livestock pro-ducers or outfitters ignores a much larger benefit conferred on the great majority of us who neither derive our livelihoods from ranching or organized hunting. Ignoring the proven scientific value of wolves to the ecological health of game popu-lations and habitat is short-sighted at best. The same can be said for the economic value of a few calves and sheep ver-sus the potential value of wild-life habitat and the animals that live there.

Tradition is important but it is not immutable. Cultures and communities change as cir-cumstances change. We do not live in a commodity-driven economy, and contrary to tra-ditional belief we do not rely anymore on small livestock producers for our food. We do, on the other hand, rely heavily on a working population who live here in part because they value the public lands, both wilderness and non-wilderness, and the wildlife they support.

Wolves and the animals they hunt are part of this. They will self regulate according to the principles of ecology without our help. If in certain circum-stances wildlife biologists be-lieve this process needs to be massaged here and there, then they should do so, but the pro-posed extermination of wolves by the state of Idaho has very little to do with this.

Indigenous people world-wide once understood that in-tentionally killing any creature established a reciprocal rela-tionship between them and that being. It was a holy act to kill even for food. While this may seem quaint to many now it is evidence of a fundamental un-derstanding as true now as then that human beings are tied to the rest of nature. We have strayed so far from that understanding in the produc-tion of our food as to be almost unrecoverable, but we can still live this value in our treatment of those animals still living free and wild.

Kelley Weston


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