On Friday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced a plan to remove endangered species protection for all Gray Wolves in the lower 48 states, with a small exception for a population of seventy-five Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. After eighteen years, federal authorities will now shift all responsibility for wolf conservation on to states.
“Conservation” is a bit of a stretch here. Wolves are legally hunted in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Here in the Midwest, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan have implemented or are hatching plans to make wolves fair game for hunters. No doubt, if this plan comes to pass, other states will follow. To make matters worse and in a frightening precedent, Michigan’s Senate has OK’d a bill that prevents a statewide vote on the wolf hunting issue, which means voters can have no say on the matter, despite the fact a large percentage of Michigan’s residents oppose wolf hunting. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) says residents are “living in fear” of impending wolf attacks. I say, Mr. Casperson needs to be a little less melodramatic in pushing his special interest agenda.
As of 2012, there were an estimated 2,921 wolves in Minnesota, 782 in Wisconsin, and 687 in Michigan. (Although 25% of Minnesota’s wolf population were killed in the first hunt so that number has likely gone down.) Here in Illinois, most of the 10-plus wolves in recent history were killed by coyote hunters or cars. So it’s not exactly a wolf invasion.
A common argument used by those who support the killing of wolves is the harm they cause to livestock and pets, but let’s put that in perspective. According to a 2011 article that was referenced to support last year’s wolf hunt in Wisconsin, wolves killed 47 calves, 16 adult cows, six sheep and six farmed deer on Wisconsin farms. The estimated damage was approximately $114,000. Wolves killed 14 pet dogs and another 20 “bear hunting hounds.” The state paid around $61,000 in damages for the dogs. I think Chevy Tahoes with Wisconsin plates did more total damage than that.
My point is, this. We need to learn to share our planet rather than claim some sort of dominion over it. We’re supposed to be caretakers, not dictators. This simple credo can be applied from distant Africa to (literally) our own backyards.
Wolves serve an important role. Yes, they are carnivores. That’s what they do. By being wolves, they help keep the deer population in check. More important, they are a part of the natural order of things. It shouldn’t come down to something as base as the fact that some believe, since wolves can’t vote they merit no representation.
As a society we seem to only recognize something as rare and valuable when it’s an inanimate object that can be owned. It’s fine and good to like these things. We appreciate gemstones for their rarity. We admire the uniqueness of a hand-made object, whether it’s jewelry, furniture, or a bicycle. We support the preservation of objects, whether historical or artistic, to be enjoyed by future generations. But what’s so hard in taking that appreciation and extending it to the natural world around us? To me, the life of a wolf is a thousand times more valuable than any gem I’ve ever seen.
If you want to take action to help protect wolves, you can ask President Obama and Director Ashe of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to not remove protection for wolves in the lower 48 states by clicking here.
I know this wasn’t entirely jewelry related. That’s OK. Jewelry is what we sell. Advocacy is what we do.