In the past 17 years of bringing back the gray wolf, it has improved the ecosystem and the hearts of those who cherish our wildlife. It has grown in abundance complementing and influencing our way of life and teaching us to understand a part of our society that we once lost. We need these animals for our future genera-tions for they are the reason so many travel to Yellow-stone and to the Northwest. They make us feel alive and passionate about life.
Seeing a wolf in the wild makes our hearts race—it gives us hope. Watching them in the background run-ning and playing among the trees and the snow is what makes us appreciate what we have and could lose in the future. The thrill you get when you watch them is so surreal. They are the backdrop of the beauty we see in places only many dream of going to. The wilderness would be empty without our wolves.
Wolves are a major part of our ecosystem. Trees and plants have flourished; sick animals have been dis-posed by the wolves, preventing diseases from being spread to other animals and wildlife. They are respon-sible for making the wilderness come alive once again.
We must find another solution to the problems be-tween ranchers and wolves. We cannot afford to take them off the Endangered Species List. Once they are no longer protected, they will soon cease to exist. Wolves will become extinct with no hope of ever returning. We cannot let this happen. We need to unify the anti-wolf coalition, which has already stated they want every single wolf gone. There is more to this problem than just wolves against the ranchers.
Wolves are not the only wild animal that kills live-stock. Bears, coyotes and others, including domesti-cated dogs, are also responsible. Yet wolves are the focal point of hatred. Wolves hunt to survive as all animals do. Isn't this their nature? If livestock die of natural causes and are left behind and not cleaned up by the rancher, then who is left with the blame?
Wolves are very intelligent animals. But it is not likely they can know the difference between an elk, moose, cow or sheep. If wolves could tell the difference and know what they are eating and could even eat like humans then we would have some pretty intelligent wolves. Don't you agree? So we are to blame. If we would have in the beginning started a control program the population would be stable and under control. We knew when we started this program the packs would grow and move onto other locations. Yet we just stood back and let it happen. Now it has caused great turmoil in the lives of both ranchers and wolves. But who is going to pay the ultimate price? It won't be the ranch-ers.
Why have we done this to such a beautiful animal and where is the respect and the compassion that they so deserve? We, the ignorant ones, have made a mess of things, not the wolves. They are innocent bystanders who have been pushed around, moved, chased, and killed by us because we didn't take control in the be-ginning. Why would we give life back to our forest just to take it away? Wolves provide the necessities of life. They give sufficient quality. They prevent privation. Having such beauty in our country is a privilege for us as humans.
We must work together to save the lives of these animals. I urge you to seriously consider and think about the things I have mentioned. I believe we at least owe it to them to try and come to an informed decision in making this work by being consistent in our actions and our intentions.
Cynthia Minde is a wolf advocate who lives in
Apache Junction, Ariz.