Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wolves and Sheep

Got some junk mail from the Nature Conservancy, an organization to which we have given money. Included was the postcard pictured above. On the flip side, the address for the Governor of Alaska, and an admonition to her about shooting wolves from aircraft. The NC wants me to put a stamp on it and mail it to Her Governess, and I'm inclined to do so.

If you are a hunter, and you eat what you shoot, that's one thing; if you are trying to protect your flock from attacking beasts, that's another; if you are in a small plane way the fuck out in the middle of nowhere potting creatures on the steppes who aren't bothering anybody just to watch them die, that's something else altogether, and I have little regard for you for such activities. The critters don't have much of a chance. Even the odds: Land the plane, arm yourself with a knife, and go hunt the wolves on foot, if you must.

There's a scene in The Princess Pride in which Vizzini the Sicilian is telling Fezzik the Giant that he is to finish Westley, "your way."

Fezzik: Oh, good. My way. Thank you Vezzini. Which way's my way?

Vizzini: Pick up one of those rocks, get behind the boulder. In a few minutes, the man in black will come running around the bend. The minute his head is in view, hit it with the rock!

A beat:

Fezzik: My way is not very sportsmanlike.

Neither is shooting wolves from an airplane.


Dan Moran said...

They were liberal gay wolves.

heina said...

Dan. LOL. Very funny.

[insert joke about the gay wolves getting married.]

Steve said...

The liberal, marrying, gay wolves are a threat to the very fabric of our society. Soon, all the woodland creatures will want to be gay, too. You know it's contagious.

EvMick said...

Excuse me.

My understanding is that there were too many wolves in an area in Alaska. You might argue the fact but that was the decision that was reached by the duly designated authorities.

That being the case then the idea was to kill the excess as quickly, cheaply, and humanely as possible.

Sportsmanship didn't enter into it.

Apparently I was misinformed.

Thank you for enlightening me on what REALLY happened.

Steve Perry said...

Let me restate it, Mick.

You are a fan of Sarah Palin, as you've let it be know a time or three. I'm not. You are quick to give her a pass on anything she does, I'm just as quick to hang her out to dry for any little thing.

Who the hell decided there were too many wolves in Alaska? By what criteria? Danger to livestock? Wiping out the deer or caribou or elk? Danger to hunters? Last time I looked, there weren't a lot of attacks on people by wolves, and as I understand, they weren't shooting the wolves that were prowling the garbage dumps, but those way the hell and away from what passes for towns up there.

Folks in Alaska just like to go out and kill things. Part of the frontier mentality. I don't think the wolves up there are a threat to anything, and when you are the captain, the ship goes where you tell it.

The woman turned a dead bear into her couch, and I think her attitude toward pretty much everything is vile.

My blog. I can say so so. Perfectly willing to allow opposing points of view, but you leaping to the woman's defense doesn't convince me she's worth defending, and you aren't preaching to the choir here. I think Sarah is a perfect example of all that is wrong with this country politically, morally, whatever you got, and unless you have a giant rabbit in your bag of trick, not much you can say is gonna change my mind.

You can keep trying, but unless she has to dodge a motorboat on her morning walk, I don't expect I'm gonna like her any better than I do now, which is to say not at all.

Travis said...

I'm not a Palin fan, so I'm not defending her. I don't know Mick, so I've no personal stake in defending him. I haven't even seen this in the news recently.

And yes, here comes the 'but'.

But, I remember this exact same debate along about '93 or'94. The wildlife management folks wanted to launch a little air assault on the wolves in order to keep the whole predator/prey balance thing. And people objected for similar reasons as now.

I really don't have enough wildlife management data to say yea or nay but I'm thinking their reasoning is much the same now as a decade ago. I'm skeptical of it being worthwhile; nature can take care of these things on it's own. Probably (done right) does reduce the oscillations (sp?) in the population some but also probably does not have much long term impact. On the other hand shooting a few wolves in an sportsmanlike manner isn't worse then letting them starve once they overpredate an area.

Perfect world, yeah sure, find enough sportsmen willing to knife fight with wolves.

It's not fair to make it a Palin issue though. Even if she's signing off on it it comes from the wildlife management folks and has been an ongoing debate for longer then she's been in office.
I do wonder about the idea that folks in Alaska just like to go kill things. Not sure if that's a motive here but I'm not sure it's not either.

Steve Perry said...

We see how well folks manage nature when it comes to things like, oh, say, forest fires and pollution. I'm not impressed with that.

A little fire now and then clears the underbrush. When you manage forests and stomp out the little fires, eventually you are gonna get a monster that eats a lot of acres. Finally, folks are coming to the conclusion that "Let it burn." is sometimes the best answer.

From what I can tell, there's no particular benefit to shooting wolves in a state the size of Alaska. Who benefits from knocking off three or four hundred a year in a state that supposedly has between eight ten thousand or so gray wolves running around in the bush? Trophy hunters. Most Alaskans have never seen a wolf, except where people feed them and the critters become inured to human contact.

If there are as many as ten thousand wolves, there are also almost a million caribou, probably almost that many black-tailed deer, a few thousand of moose, and assorted rabbits, squirrels, and mice too numerous to count, the last few of which provide most of a wolf's diet in the wild.

I can't imagine the wolves are making much of a dent in the big game population. Nor can anybody show that they are.
There's no science in evidence here, and that's one of Palin's bragging points -- she don't need no stinkin' science. Global warming? The jury isn't in, she says.

The jury came in, rendered its verdict, went home, and stared stockpiling ice cubes a long time ago.

No, wolves take a sheep or beef now and then, and that's what drives getting rid of them. Same thing in this state and the others in the Lower Forty Eight that still have lupis.

Most Alaskans I have known have a fondness for guns and shooting thereof, and that's not a sin. Taking fish or game to put food on the table? That's okay. Even the Dalai Lama says if all you have is meat, then you eat meat.

Killing something, chopping off its head and sticking that up on your wall? Not quite the same. You have the gun, supposedly the brain, technology out the wazoo, there aren't many animals out there in any jungle that have much of a chance against you. Not very sportsmanlike ...

EvMick said...

Apparently we'll continue to disagree on Sarah Palin. I think that she has many fine and admirable characteristics. You don't agree.

I think she is being treated unfairly, You don't agree.

I'd like the opportunity to vote for her one day in a Presidential election, and not necessarily on a Republican ticket either. I doubt you agree.

I have no problem with trophy hunting. I'm no hunter but it would only seem reasonable that the whole animal be utilized. Use the head for a wall trophy, use the hide for whatever, eat the meat.

Actually I don't even own a gun. I'd like to. Maybe one day.

I'm amazed at your knowledge of Alaska,wildlife management, forest management and such like. Being from the high plains of Texas I'm no judge myself.

Steve Perry said...

I'm no expert on Alaska; however, I have friends and a sometime- collaborator who live there, and Idid a fair amount of research, with them and others, for a book set there.

We know a couple who live in a park so big and so far away there is not only no phone service, but no zip code, and no real way to get there save by air. They don't leave the house without major artillery because of the brown bears.

Anything I have to say about it is easy enough to check -- get online and look it up. If my numbers of critters are off, I'll happily sit corrected. If my theories of wildlife management are wrong, I'm not alone in holding them.

I live in Oregon, wherein wolves have in the last few years have re-introduced themselves -- they came over the river from Idaho, somehow. The Pacific Northwest has the same issues about predators as Alaska, albeit our bears are smaller, and we have more cougars.
It's in the news, and people debate the issue, so I try to keep up.

When humans move into an area, they become top predator, and they don't like competition, from animals, or other people. The more advanced civilization tends to step on the lesser, as witness what happened to indigenous folk pretty much anywhere on the planet when the great nations of Europe came to call.

Shoot it, trap it, cut it down, raze it flat, like in Bambi -- when man comes into the forest, bad shit happens to the locals.

I know ranchers who would happily see every big cat, wolf, and bear in the country go extinct tomorrow if it would save one sheep or head of beef. From where they sit, you can understand why, but like so much of what people do, it's short-sighted. Where there's nobody left but us, it's going to be a much lesser world.

Travis said...

"Apparently we'll continue to disagree on Sarah Palin. I think that she has many fine and admirable characteristics"

Uhmm... what are they?

"I'd like the opportunity to vote for her one day in a Presidential election"

I've got the perfect running mate for her

Dan Gambiera said...

The only justification for this is that a lot of people like killing things because killing things is fun.

Consider the actual facts here for a second.

Over the last century and a half the United States government has spent tens of billions of dollars killing off any predator larger than a weasel. Gray wolves, lobo wolves, coyotes, black bears, brown bears, cougars, the Florida Panther, you name it. As such things are, it turns out to have been purely a welfare program for the rich - Big Cattle and Big Ag in this case.

Some time back we decided that killing absolutely everything wild with four legs was a bad idea. Wolves were re-introduced into Yellowstone and we stopped killing them wholesale in Alaska.

The screams from the Right were heartrending. They would steal babies out of their cradles, walk the streets of Main Street, USA in rabid packs and destroy Big Cattle. They would breed with dogs and create an unkillable Super-Race of wolf-dog hybrids. So there had to be provisions allowing the government to kill the dangerous ones.

Of course, none of the dire predictions came true. As of a year or so ago there were still only three or four cases of non-rabid wolves attacking humans in all of recorded post-Columbian North American history. They have continued their traditional diet of mice, voles, the occasional snowshoe hare and the rare deer augmented by garbage when they can get it.

But, against all scientific evidence the Bushies declared that wolves were no longer endangered. And with their usual disregard for anything as pedestrian as the Law they turned a blind eye to "controlled" wolf hunts which quickly turned into for-profit helicopter hunts which had dick-all to do with controlling anything except the tour operators' bottom line.

Mike said...

As a guy that used to raise cattle (and hunt, for that matter) I can distinctly recall that the biggest hazard to our stock was the good old domestic canine. Sometimes solo, sometimes in packs of a half dozen or so; we'd loose a few animals every year to them, mostly young calves. These dogs may or may not have had owners, but I don't remember seeing collars or tags on many of them. A few wolves would have been tolerable: they would have kept the dogs away, but it's been a long time since there were wolves in west central Indiana. "Stray" dogs are still a problem, though, and while I can't say if they're liberal/gay stray dogs, shooting them is still the best option as far as I'm concerned. But then I wouldn't mind shooting a few politicians, too.

Travis said...

yeah, most people don't get the fact that wolves have a pretty deep instinctual fear of humans or that stray, or abused, dogs, without that instinctual fear are far more dangerous.

i'm not actually pro wolf hunting, i just thought the argument was being poorly framed. Not a criticism of anyone, just an opportunity to jump into the discussion.