Nation! (Part Deux)
The anti-wolf crowd gives us another laugh.
Oregon Wild is not against hunting. In fact, Oregon Wild traces its origins back almost 35 years ago to the day when 3 elk hunters gathered around a campfire and decided that something needed to be done to protect the places they loved.
I grew up fishing in the upper Midwest. It’s a place where Cheeseheads, Yoopers, and Minnesotans have serious discussions over which state is really the home of Paul Bunyan. That is of course after we finish our discussion on the real home of another ancient legend – Brett Favre. But I digress. The point I am trying to make is that I am no stranger to tall tales.
Even so, a few weeks ago, I was so impressed by a tall tale that I was compelled to write about it on our blog and dubbed it a story “we’d be more likely to believe if we had heard it on Comedy Central”.
The NRA joined a lawsuit against us based on a tale taller than any tree Paul Bunyan or George Bush ever cut down. Here’s the Cliffsnotes version:
A few years ago, NRA member Vincent Pirozzi III found himself surrounded by one of the largest wolf packs in the history of the world. These ravenous wolves were intent on killing an entire herd of elk. At great peril to himself, armed with nothing more than snowballs, and bogged down in waist-deep snow, he was able to drive off 30 wolves and save a poor elk calf and its mother so he could hunt them the next day. Theses wolves so ruined Mr. Pirozzi, III's hunting experience that on his behalf, the NRA was compelled to join a lawsuit to allow wolves to be hunted in Montana and Idaho.
Late last week we came across another equally ridiculous story from a “successful” wolf hunter in Montana. This time, the hunter was honest - painfully honest. The story is entitled Hunters, Researcher, Challenged by Wolf Hunt. Challenged indeed…below are the highlights:
"He eventually singled out a black-haired male, After stalking him for eight miles in the snowy foothills of the Beartooth Mountains..."
Tracking an apex predator for eight miles through mountainous backcountry on foot is pretty hardcore. But here’s a bit more description:
“Shortly after sunrise, Big Timber’s Kyle S.…began stalking the Baker Mountain wolf pack on his four-wheeler”
That’s right. This tough guy “stalked” his quarry on a four-wheeler - not exactly fair chase in my book. But, according to Kyle, it was still a tough hunt.
"There was nothing easy about it...It took a lot of shells for me to even get one of them’…he took four shots at the animal, missing each time. After getting closer, he placed a lethal shot in the wolf's rear."
Well, apparently Kyle isn’t a great shot…or an anatomy expert. But he did feel that he deserved a trophy for his effort. Unfortunately, those meanies at Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks wouldn’t let him have his trophy of choice – the wolf’s radio-tracking collar.
"Stenberg was disappointed FWP took the collar that was on the large wolf he killed. He planned to hang it on his wall”
But, he still has the wolf
“I’m going to get it stuffed, stick it out at the ranch,’ he said. ‘I know a couple other guys who got wolves. This is bigger than any of theirs.”
All joking aside, this is a sad story. The premature wolf-hunt in Idaho and Montana has come at great cost both to scientific research and to the wolves themselves. Already, the hunting unit just to the north of Yellowstone had to be closed when hunters killed more wolves than the allowable quota.
That death toll included all the collared wolves in the Cottonwood Pack. That pack was recently described in Science Magazine as being “one of the very few unexploited wolf populations in North America, where packs had lived and died naturally…we can no linger make that claim.”
Though the Montana hunt was justified in part because it would “increase people’s tolerance towards wolves”, we continue to hear more and more stories of wolf poaching including 3 in NW Montana just last week. The “hunter” who was found guilty of the poaching was fined a whopping $1,135.
When we read comments like this on message boards, it seems the hunt has enabled more wolf-hatred, not increased tolerance:
“We need to get the word out to the hunters this fall, always aim for the guts untill you see the one you want on the wall then go for the vitals on the last one and tag it. The rest will simply run off and become food for the other critters. Together we can ruduce there numbers in a hurry.”
“read the regs. they say you cant kill a wolf doesent say anything about shooting'em”
Since western wolves lost their protections as a federally listed endangered species, wolf management has fallen to individual states. That’s bad news for wolves in Idaho, and Montana. It’s not as bad for wolves in Oregon. We do have a reasonable, but imperfect plan that gives the state plenty of tools to appease anti-wolf interests.
To the north, Washington is currently putting together its plan, and they’re asking for public comment. Just like in Oregon, anti-wolf folks represent a minority of Washingtonians. However, they’re a vocal minority. If you live in Washington, or know folks who do, check out this list of public hearings on the wolf plan. If you live here in Oregon, click here to keep up to date.
Then we can get back to arguing about where Paul Bunyan really lives.