“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?”
In just the last couple of days I’ve received communications from both Defenders of Wildlife and the Center For Biological Diversity on what is an apparent ‘pause’ in the clearly politically-motivated effort, courtesy of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, to delist — and hence enable the mass killing — of all (reintroduced) gray wolves in the lower 48, save for the small handful of (reintroduced) Mexican Gray Wolves in E. Arizona and W. New Mexico. Here are the most recent messages; they are, at least, encouraging . . . to all but the wolf-haters:
USFWS halts peer review process for national wolf delisting proposal
Public outcry over excluded experts raises serious concerns over scientific integrity
WASHINGTON (August 12, 2013) – According to news reports today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) has put on hold the scientific peer review of its proposal to strip federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across nearly all of the lower 48 states.
The following is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife:
“While we still disagree on the merits of this premature delisting proposal, at least the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service understands the magnitude of the issue. It’s a relief that the Service has listened to the voices of wildlife supporters nationwide who have called the integrity of their peer review process into question. Cherry-picking scientists is not a good way to do business. To ensure impartiality and scientific integrity, we recommend that the Service turn the peer review over to the National Academy of Sciences instead of trying to manage the process itself. Either way, we look forward to a fair peer review of the science behind this ill-advised delisting proposal, and we hope the Service turns to the best experts in the field regardless of whether they have written letters about the use of their science in the proposal.”
Last week, several wolf experts were excluded from consideration for a peer review panel to evaluate the scientific basis for delisting gray wolves nationwide. They were excluded for signing a letter in May that criticized the Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal, saying: “Based on a careful review of the rule, we do not believe that the rule reflects the conclusions of our work or the best available science concerning the recovery of wolves, or is in accordance with the fundamental purpose of the Endangered Species Act to conserve endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.” Among those excluded were Robert Wayne of UCLA, Roland Kays of North Carolina State University and John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University.
And this, from the Center For Biological Diversity:
After protests by the Center for Biological Diversity and others, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just suspended the independent scientific review of the wolf delisting proposal in order to deal with criticisms that top wolf scientists had been excluded.
It’s an important victory but we still have a long fight ahead of us.
Now more than ever we know that politics, not science, is driving this proposal to strip Endangered Species Act protections from wolves. Last week, three scientists were cut out of the review process because they’d signed a letter raising serious questions about the delisting proposal.
It seems obvious that this latest ploy was an attempt to keep dissenting opinions out of the scientific peer review mandated by the Endangered Species Act. It failed, thankfully, after Center and other wolf supporters turned up the heat.
Below is an ‘old’ rendering that I ran across (somewhere) circa 2002, one that has been resident on my hard drive since I first scanned it way back then, more than a decade ago. Sadly, I can offer no attribution, can only offer it for admiration of its implicit message. And in the process, note that no matter the sad reality of the moment, I can still only wonder just what might be the cosmic explanation of the embedded human flaw that seems to DEMAND that we KILL wolves . . . even though our only reasons for doing so are irrational fears, hatreds, and politics.
“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings, they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.” ~Renée Askins in Shadow Mountain – A Memoir of Wolves, a Woman, and the Wild; Anchor Books, ISBN 0-385-48226-4
Stated another way (the Wingnut version of “irrational fears, hatreds, and politics”):
[The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone is] “the equivalent of detonating a nuclear bomb in the West.” ~Paul Hoffman, appointed deputy assistant secretary of the Interior in January 2002 as overseer of the National Park Service, as quoted in 1996