HOWL Colorado

Advocates, Scientists mourn loss of 832F; Montana ends hunts at Yellowstone border

HOWLColorado received news of the death of 832F, perhaps the most famous of all of Yellowstone’s remaining wolves, last Saturday via an email from a devastated advocate. The news was both saddening, and yet inevitable.

Advocates, when Montana and Idaho first started their wolf hunts, pleaded for one concession. A buffer zone around the borders of Yellowstone National Park. Wolves, unaware of the borders within which they live, deserve some protection. The states disagreed. October 3rd, 2009 saw iconic wolf – 527 – felled by a hunter’s bullet.

This time it was the “rock star” wolf, the female designated as 832F – She had been highly popular with tourists to Yellowstone for the last 6 years. Killed during a rare excursion outside the boundries of the park. Not only was she an iconic wolf, she was also the most recent in a string of 8 wolves with tracking collars claimed by hunters during this year’s hunt.

The disgusting fact here is that hunters and ranchers claim that these hunts are to reduce wolf attacks on livestock. This widely perpetuated fallacy is built as a house of cards constructed from interlocking exaggerations and dishonest rhetoric.

The tracking collar, representing thousands of dollars of technology, around 832F’s neck proved conclussively that this wolf rarely ventured outside of the borders of Yellowstone and did so only for brief periods of time.

Wolf predation is one of the more insignificant causes of livestock death and very much avoidable through non-lethal methods and reasonable animal husbandry practices.

So this begs the question: Why are so many collared wolves, especially those around the borders of Yellowstone, being shot by hunters?

The simple answer is this. These hunters are lazy. They have picked the easiest targets. Yellowstone wolves have a lower fear of humans and are geographically less challenging to find.

This does not support the claim that hunting reduces predation – since these wolves weren’t going to be hunting livestock.

These hunts are just blood sport. America, which claims to be the greatest nation in the world, a paragon of civilization, continues to perpetuate this barbaric practice. Putting food on the table is one thing. Killing for the pure pleasure of seeing an animal die is brutal, cruel and unnecessary.

Montana should be recognized for one thing, albeit a tiny concession on the part of their FWP Commission. Montana banned hunting and trapping on a 4-to-1 vote around the town of Gardiner as a response to all the Yellowstone wolves being killed. The commission chairman Rob Ream still declined to create a permanent buffer around the borders of Yellowstone stating the issue to be “particular and unique”… so, this is one of those non-unique unique things, I suppose.

Ream did acknowledge that the decision represented a political compromise – as the Department of Fish, Parks and Wildlife and the obvious hunters and trappers lobbyists pushed to make no change. A lone dissenter voted in support of those special interests (Dan Vermillion cast that vote should you find that information interesting).

Wyoming and Idaho have not made any such concessions.

Small victories. But this battle is going poorly and wolves are currently losing the war.

Our tools are facts, education and passion. Their tools are guns, ignorance and lies.

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