Of Man, Of Wolf
As mountain throws its livid purple haze –
As waning sunlight strays across the skies
And skims a craggy ridge, Man’s towers rise
From valley’s darkened floor as if ablaze
In ego – soaring – bluster unconstrained
By reason – or by feigned humilities.
Beyond the morrow’s sunrise where the trees
Stand tall, the lone wolf’s paw print, water-stained,
Impales his visage on a sandy trail.
Instinctive stealth, the weapon of his choice,
And fearsome howl – man’s bête noir in voice –
Expound on reasons men, themselves, must fail:
“My birthright is to live! Run wild! Run free
Of shackled chains! . . . No wonder YOU
fear hate ME!”
Man’s completely irrational fear and hatred of wolves is obviously boundless, as evidenced in a most disheartening letter I received a few days ago from Defenders of Wildlife. It read, in part:
We’ve reached a heartbreaking milestone:
The 1,000th wolf has died from hunting and trapping in the Northern Rockies since Congress stripped gray wolves of their Endangered Species Act protection in 2011.
Mothers, pups and packs have fallen to hunters’ bullets and traps – 1,001 at last count in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. It’s a tragic, unsustainable toll, and it cannot be allowed to go on.
Among the most recent victims of this reckless killing was OR16, an Oregon-born male wearing a radio collar. He was shot on January 19th in Idaho.
OR16 was a remarkable wolf. His wanderings took him through three states and he even swam the Snake River. Yet, after his astonishing journey, he made the tragic mistake of crossing into Idaho. He lasted only 33 days there, and was the second Oregon wolf to be killed in Idaho.
Now we’re looking at the loss of over 1,000 wolves in just two years. This accelerated killing is an example of how states like Wyoming are managing wolves as vermin to be eliminated, not as wildlife to be managed responsibly. There is no basis for allowing this many wolves to be killed this quickly. It’s 100% politics that is driving state management.
The restoration of wolves in the Lower 48 is one of the greatest success stories of the Endangered Species Act. It’s tragic that in this day and age we are still fighting myths, misconceptions and old hatreds toward these magnificent animals.
Let me be frank: I am an environmentalist. A RADICAL environmentalist, at least in the perception of a great many of the intellectually unwashed who see no virtue in any concept that might somehow define the realm which lies just beyond the narrowness of their own existence. I’ve been called a tree hugger, an eagle freak, a wolfer, a greenie, a screwball, nutcase, communist, socialist . . . you get the drift. Oddly enough, in said context all those epithets might well be reasonably accurate. Sort of, more-or-less, generally speaking, etc.
In any case, because my sympathies generally lie within the wild and natural world and NOT within that realm imposed upon this planet by my own species, I pay attention to and am a member of various ‘environmentalist’ organizations. included are Defenders of Wildlife, the Wilderness Society, the Center for Biological Diversity, plus a variety of other organizations which dedicate their efforts to preserving (and restoring) that which is natural, that which we humans have diminished or destroyed for no good reason other than our all-too-common notion that we are . . . ummm . . . created in the image of some sort of ‘god’ who granted us “dominion” over . . . well, over everything. The old “It is written” ploy.
But other things, too, have been “written,” and in words which make far more sense to me, the Radical Environmentalist, than virtually any that pretend to bless the presence of humans here on this speck of galactic dust we like to call “Earth.” So I shall, for the moment, defer to some of those others who have proven far more able than I to pen the words that most accurately describe and enhance recognition of environmental realities and concerns. Following are a few quotes selected from the sizable handful I’ve accumulated over the years, specific source(s) attributed when available.
First, the Idiot shouts:
“It’s the funnest thing I’ve done in years!”
So spoke a gleeful Montana TV ‘Reality Show’ host after shooting and killing a wolf with a high-powered rifle (his idiotic comment was forwarded to the world by the Center for Biological Diversity on August 21, 2012)
Next, Intelligence adds its soft-spoken but ever-varied voice:
“One of the problems that comes with trying to take a wider view of animals is that most of us have cut ourselves off from them conceptually. We do not think of ourselves as part of the animal kingdom. Indians did . . . not because [they] did not perceive the differences but because they were preoccupied with the similarities.” ~Barry Holstun Lopez, in Of Wolves and Men, 1978
[To the Lakota] “The animals had rights — the right of man’s protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man’s indebtedness — and in recognition of these rights the Lakota never enslaved an animal, and spared all life that was not needed for food and clothing. This concept of life and its relations was humanizing, and gave to the Lakota an abiding love . . . The Lakota could despise no creature, for all were of one blood.” ~Lakota Tribal Chief Luther Standing Bear
“What monstrous folly, think you, ever led Nature to create her one great enemy — man . . . And how instinctively she taught the fear of him to the rest of her children!” ~John C. Van Dyke, in The Desert, 1903
[When European colonists first arrived in America] “The whole continent was one continued dismal wilderness, the haunt of wolves and bears and more savage men. Now the forests are removed, the land covered with fields of corn, orchards bending with fruit and the magnificent habitations of rational and civilized people.” ~John Adams, 1756 (as quoted by Barry Holstun Lopez, in Of Wolves and Men, 1978)
“[Man] was born and equipped as an excellent animal, but he sold his birthright for a mess of pottage called culture and took on fear and a whimper as a part of the bargain.” ~John C. Van Dyke, in The Desert, 1903
“Wilderness . . . the love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need — if only we had the eyes to see. Original sin, the true original sin, is the blind destruction for the sake of greed of this natural paradise which lies all around us.” ~Edward Abbey, in Desert Solitaire, A Season in the Wilderness, 1968
“The precise origins of man’s unusual fear of the wolf are obscure. The wolf is human’s most feared animal, even though there has never been a verified account of a healthy wild wolf attacking and killing a human in North America. There have been many maulings caused by bears, and many a diver has experienced a shark attack, but never a wild wolf attack. So why are wolves so feared and hated?” ~Jill Missal, in Wolves, Humans, and the Myth
“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes — something known only to her and the mountain. I was young then and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, then no wolves would mean a hunter’s paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” ~Aldo Leopold, in A Sand County Almanac, 1949
“Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.” ~Aldo Leopold, in A Sand County Almanac, 1949
And finally, one of Universal Truth’s most abject pinnacles:
“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be: the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless killer — which is, in reality, no more than the reflected image of ourself.”
~Farley Mowat, in Never Cry Wolf, 1963
Indeed. The essence of “We the people” was most ably summed — some fifty years ago — by Canadian environmentalist and wildlife biologist Farley Mowat. Consider, if you dare, only today’s murderous iceberg tips, the ones in view right now as we speak: in the United States, within just the last two years, more than 1000 wolves have been slaughtered in the northern Rockies, most by gunfire, and not a single one of them for any good reason; less than two months ago twenty children, ages 5 and 6, plus six educators were murdered — by gunfire — in Newtown, Connecticut; and nationwide, assuming gruesome averages continue to hold true, at least 1000 people will die every month in the United States. From gunfire . . . gunfire which can no longer even be heard over the screams(!) of anguish emanating from those for whom gun possession is the only ‘sacred’ adherence.
We are a nation with a shriveled soul. We are a nation OF shriveled souls. I realize it’s far too late to overturn the Second Amendment, to confiscate and destroy all guns in the land and thereby save tens upon hundreds of thousands of human lives and millions more in the wild kingdom, but perhaps we could at least rewrite the Second Amendment to make it a bit more accurate, more palatable? How about this:
A non regulated Militia, being unnecessary to the security of a free State, the right of Shriveled Souls to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Wolf Pups, photo credit ©ODFW (from Defenders of Wildlife)
This is today’s open thread; go for it!