Outdoors

Wolf issues conjure up hysteria on both extremes

This picture provided by Robert Millage shows his rifle with reportedly the first wolf killed in Idaho on  Sept. 1,  the opening day of the state’s season.  Millage said he shot the wolf from 25 yards near a ridge along the Lochsa River in north-central Idaho.   (Associated Press)
This picture provided by Robert Millage shows his rifle with reportedly the first wolf killed in Idaho on Sept. 1, the opening day of the state’s season. Millage said he shot the wolf from 25 yards near a ridge along the Lochsa River in north-central Idaho. (Associated Press)

PREDATORS — Hunters and trappers can be their own worst enemies.

The World Wide Web saw red this weekend as animal rights groups took great pleasure in spreading photos of hunters and trappers posing in bloody scenes with their wolves.

The most offensive features a man keeling and smiling. In the background, in a circle of snow tinted with blood, is a wolf, its tongue hanging out, its foot clamped in a leg-hold trap. Men posing with dead wolves is sufferable. In this case, the guy is mugging for the camera while the wolf suffers in the background.

Then the idiot posted the photo on the Internet.

Here's a Reuters story on the outrage, which of course is being spread by animal rights group giddy with the opportunity.

Read on for a few terse thoughts about the extremes in the wolf issue.

In the world of the Internet, we can close out the rest of the world and forget that half of the people in the country have a different opinion on just about everything.

Also in the world of the Internet, when you do something really stupid and inflammatory, the message can spread like lightning.

Hunters have a right and even a calling to be active in managing wolves.

But it’s a curse on all hunters that some guys live in havens where they can find support for  bragging about cruel behavior to wildlife. Any wildlfie. I know it’s rampant in Idaho, but last time I looked, that’s just one of 50 states.

The tough guy talk is ramping up  in Eastern Washington, too. Great. Washington hunters will get what we deserve if that continues, and a black eye isn’t out of the question.

Killing animals is serious business. A hunter or trapper who wasn’t taught as a kid to take an animal’s life as quickly and cleanly as possible needs to go back to Hunting 101 with the grade school kids.

But while I don't like the wolf-hater hero photos or the wolf-hating stories moving on the Internet, I also don't like how anti-hunters are rallying this into a campaign to stall wolf management. (Although I can’t blame them for taking a public relations gift on a platter and running with it.)

Idaho likely would hot have gone to wolf trapping if environmental groups had not gone to court two years ago to stop the second hunting seasons in Montana and Idaho.

That was counterproductive, socially and to the elk herds. 

I wrote a story at that time quoting five wolf experts from around the world — all of whom said the social aspects of wolf recovery were as important or more important than the biological aspects.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service experts were saying wolves were recovered and wolf management could begin three years ago.

But some environmental groups pressed on, using wolves as a fundraiser.

This year, for the first time in many decades, Idaho Panhandle hunters will not have an either-sex elk hunting season in units once flush with elk.

This issue isn’t just about cropping the size of prized game herds. It’s also about messing with the fiber of the culture in those small towns — and I'm talking about places where I've been burned in effigy, so don't think I'm out there looking for the love.

When Ed Bangs, the former federal wolf recovery director, said wolves had recovered faster and more thoroughly that biologists could have dreamed, some environmental groups wouldn't listen. 

The result is hunters and trappers thinking they have a retaliatory right to act like bloodthirsty thugs.

I don't like it or condone it, but I can't be surprised by it nor can I stop it.

Let’s see where the pendulum swings this time. 




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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