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Wolf Hunters Prefer an Imbalance of Nature

Jim Robertson
Aug 17, 2012

In a recent discussion on wildlife issues with some longtime friends, I felt a little out of place to learn they were all against the reintroduction of wolves to places like Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. No, they weren't a group of hunters selfishly seeking authority over nonhuman life; these good folks were understandably upset because the wolves are being killed in horrible ways, ever since their removal from the federal endangered species list left them at the mercy of state game department policy makers. While I share their outrage and the urge to end the suffering of wolves, I have to argue that at least the ones 'that got away' will go on to fill a gap in biodiversity.

The point of recovering endangered species should be to bring back and/or protect enough diversity to allow nature to function apart from human intervention. The presence of predators like wolves can help to restore a sense of natural order and nullify the claims by hunters that their sport is necessary to keep ungulate populations in check.

Wolves in Yellowstone have been keeping elk on the move enough to allow willows to thrive once again in places like the Lamar Valley. Newly emerging willow thickets in turn provide food and shelter for an array of species, from beavers to songbirds. The loss of each thread of biodiversity brings us one step closer to a mass extinction spasm that would wreak more destruction and animal suffering than the Earth has seen in some 50 million years.

Hunters want their cake and eat it too. Out of one side of their mouth they declare that there are too many elk and that they do the animals a favor by killing them to prevent overgrazing. Yet when wolves spread out and successfully reclaim some of their former territories, hunters resent the competition and call for every brutal tactic imaginable to drive wolves back into the shadows, thereby restoring the imbalance that hunters depend on to justify their exploits.

Now more than ever we need to counter the hunter agenda at every turn, for the sake of a functioning planet. It's high time to put an end to the notion that wildlife are 'property' of the states, to be 'managed' as they see fit. The animals of the Earth are autonomous, each having a necessary role in nature. Only human arrogance would suppose it any other way.

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