Please read and share Patricia’s new column here:
“The wolf hunt is an ‘ego-testical’ hunt. We all know the history of ‘science’ trumping ethics. There is too much testosterone in the North American wildlife model.” — Paul Paquet, internationally renowned Canadian wolf biologist
Wisconsin’s killing spree targeting 251 wolves (a third of our wolves) was the shame of the International Wolf Symposium, “Wolves and Humans at the Crossroads,” held in Duluth, Minn., Oct. 10-13. Killing wolves at random was described as analogous to “shooting into a crowd hoping to hit a criminal.”
A trip to the International Wolf Center and the Bear Education Center in Ely, Minn., energized symposium participants who viewed the live wolf and live bear enclosures to soak up the beauty of these exceptional mammals. The myth of the big bad wolf was dispelled and it was obvious that these power animals had won over the “old white guys” who had worked with them for 40 to 50 years. Biologists who had reintroduced wolves in Yellowstone documented the richness of healthy ecosystems and balance brought to habitats stripped of diversity by the man-imposed destruction of wolves, now thriving again. They were angered by wolves being slaughtered rather than being respected as honored members of our community.
Scores of biologists representing 39 countries gave presentations nearly nonstop throughout the three days. These scientists have worked directly with wolves, radio-collaring, documenting what they described as their very challenging and dangerous lives.
Most wolf mortality is caused by man. But they also die from mange, parvo, lyme disease, starvation, fights with other wolves and carnivores, kicks from deer or elk, and car collisions. Seventy percent of pups die within the first year.
Richard Thiel experienced Wisconsin wolves for 30 years before he retired. He has found a home on the board of directors of the Wolf Center. He is the retired Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources biologist who told Joy Cardin on public radio that in all the years he worked with wolves, pushing them off deer carcasses and having them walk right up to him, he never felt the need to carry a firearm and he never did.
He recently sought out wolf biologists to write down their favorite wolf stories. Within 10 months, he had stories from 23 wolf scientists and compiled them into “Wild Wolves We Have Known: Stories of Wolf Biologists’ Favorite Wolves,” available here. All proceeds support wolf educational efforts.
Within the book, biologists break from the outdated policy of dealing with wild animals as just “populations.” The traditional self-serving hunter “science” has dealt with all wildlife through the pronounced bias that maintaining hunt-able populations is all that matters. The book celebrates the value of the INDIVIDUAL wolf as a sentient being who suffers and deserves moral consideration.
Biologist John Vucetich, writing the book’s introduction, considers the life of a wolf from the wolf’s perspective, urging empathy. He explains how wolves have sensory consciousness, memories, dreams, intentionality, emotions and personality, concluding that these similarities humans share with wolves are significant. He says, “Wolves are certainly not human … but it is an entirely separate concern to ask, is a wolf a person?” He concludes that given the traits mentioned above, “All mammals experience life. Each has a story to tell and a life with which to empathize. … It is perfectly right to treat our dogs as people. Native Americans were certain wolves and many other creatures were people.”
This book will educate and change the human people who read it.
One of the most exciting forums was a debate on trapping and hunting wolves. On the wolves’ side was Howard Goldman of the Minnesota Humane Society and Paul Paquet, Canadian wolf biologist. On the pro-hunting/trapping side were Jim Hammill, a Michigan DNR biologist and an avid hunter with Safari International, and Gary Leistico, a lifelong trapper and lawyer representing numerous trapping associations.
Paquet’s defense of wolves exposed the sham of the good ol’ boy system: “There is a lot of testosterone driving the North American wildlife model. It is not a ‘gold standard’ but a ‘lead standard,’ narrowly directed to using wolves as targets to kill. It is human-centered domination by man for his own use — killing competition for deer, trophy killing for pleasure. There is no doubt that we are inflicting physical and psychological harm to wolves and causing them intense suffering. Serving our own interests, sanctifying switching off conscience. It is unethical.”
Paquet continued, “Individuals are important and you are failing to consider individual suffering. The harm is more serious when it is intentional with no worthwhile purpose. It has long been recognized that wanting to cause pain is wrong, especially when we have the cognitive ability to know it. Bottom line: Stop killing wolves.”
Hammill, in an intense voice, said he resented reference to the “recreational” killing of wolves. He said, “Hunting is not baseball. This is something deep within us.”
Hammill gave a final swipe at Paquet: “Then killing deer and ducks is immoral — disrespecting those species.”
Without intending to do so, Hammill spoke a deep truth.
Please comment against delisting gray wolves across the entire 48 states, and support recovery efforts for the extremely endangered Mexican wolf here.
Please contact your state representatives and senators to oppose LRB 3191, which would give $500,000 of public tax money, every two years, to recruit more wildlife killing on our public land. Contact them to support SB 93, Sen. Fred Risser’s bill banning the use of dogs against wolves.