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The Imperiled American Wolf: When Will the Killing Stop?

Since being removed from the endangered species it's been an open season on wolves by sport hunters and trappers, some of whom openly torture the animals before killing them or letting them die. The heinous slaughter of these magnificent carnivores is ruining research and management programs and according to wolf experts it is scientifically and thoroughly unjustified. Read More

Wolves are the most controversial critters in the world!

I hope that was a typo about wolves being killed IN Yellowstone Park, which, of course, they are not. There SHOULD always be places where wolves(and other wildlife) are left undisturbed, and I'm all for MORE and LARGER such places! But, eventually, outside these natural areas, there ARE going to be conflicts with wildlife where people are going to have to be considered over the animals' welfare--that's reality, and there is no getting around that. If you do not allow people to protect their property, livestock, or themselves from animal threats or damage(even incorrectly interpreted threats to such), the resentments can cause repercussions that would have even MORE dire consequences for the animals in the long run(an example--irate ranchers poisoning any and all wolves--and anything else that comes along--out of resentment because they cannot get compensation or help with a few wolves killing their livestock). I personally CANNOT understand, nor would I ever consider shooting a wolf for "sport". However, in the video, the comment made about considering a wolf like one's own dog--what if a wolf was killing my dog? That happens a LOT to people who live where there are wolves(I have some friends that had to deal with this problem daily--to solve the problem, they never killed any wolves, they finally MOVED! But most folks aren't going to do that). I might very well kill a wolf to save my best friend, much as I would hate to. These are the conflicts people who REALLY live near wild populations of wolves have to deal with. Maybe overall, statistically speaking, livestock predation seems minimal when, say, only 200 or so domestic animals get killed by wolves in a state--but what if that 200 or so was being experienced by only one or two ranchers?(the ones closest to the wolf populations) That could destroy their livlihood, and--much as I love wolves--I can sympathize with their need to protect their own, and they SHOULD(I believe) have that right. Is there a lot of unecessary killing of wolves, extreme cruelty, political human quagmires regarding this issue? Absolutely, but at some point, somehow, somewhere, the increasing, spreading wolf population will have to be controled at times, much as I personally wish that didn't have to be so.

Hunters do not "torture" animals.

"... some of whom openly torture the animals before killing them or letting them die."

Frankly, I don't believe this entirely and suggest someone is a pathological liar. I have been a hunter for a little more than 50 and yet have never seen anything like that.

Hunters do not "torture" animals.

Missing the point

It is good to have a format that invites diverse discussion. That said the previous writers may have missed the main point. Wolves are an integral part of our biological heritage, and should be honored for that. Period. Killing is not a synonym for honor. Enough said on that front.

Marc and I have each had the pleasure of working closely with wolves, and through these we have been privileged to share in human ways the beauty of their lives. Their critical role in ecological balances is now well established. It is not helpful to throw rocks at people who understand these animals, and not humane to shoot at those creatures, we mistakenly justify as necessary kills, due to our lack of understanding.

But yes, having a forum to hear differing ideas is how we each learn. So for that I thank the previous writers. And yes, I would protect my own dog from wolves, and find ways to keep my lifestock safe....without recourse to murder. There are alternative solutions. The big solution is to move the misguided mindset that we "Deserve" to control nature at nature's expense. Nature will eventually win that argument....and that time may not be that far off. Dominion over nature may be a good Bible story, but we have learned much since those early writings. I hope.

Did not Address my Comment.

I received the following message via my e-mail address. When I noticed it failed to say anything and, particularly, to address my comment relevantly, I attempted to respond just to find there was no such comment on the site.

Furthermore, the URL address below go nowhere. This nonsense greatly upsets me.

Alvah

Hi Alvah Buckmore, Jr.,

John Fentress has commented on: "The Imperiled American Wolf: When Will the
Killing Stop?"

Subject: Missing the point
It is good to have a format that invites diverse discussion. That said the
previous writers may have missed the main point. Wolves are an integral part
of our biological heritage, and should be honored for that. Period. Killing
is not a synonym for honor. Enough said on that front.

Marc and I have each had the pleasure of working closely with wolves, and
through these we have been privileged to share in human ways the beauty of
their lives. Their critical role in ecological balances is now well
established. It is not helpful to throw rocks at people who understand these
animals, and not humane to shoot at those creatures, we mistakenly justify as
necessary kills, due to our lack of understanding.

But yes, having a forum to hear differing ideas is how we each learn. So for
that I thank the previous writers. And yes, I would protect my own dog from
wolves, and find ways to keep my lifestock safe....without recourse to
murder. There are alternative solutions. The big solution is to move the
misguided mindset that we "Deserve" to control nature at nature's expense.
Nature will eventually win that argument....and that time may not be that far
off. Dominion over nature may be a good Bible story, but we have learned much
since those early writings. I hope.

You can view the comment at the following url
http://www.psychologytoday.com/comment_redirect/341251

You can stop receiving emails when someone replies to this blog post,
by going to
http://www.psychologytoday.com/comment_notify/disable/688bd1908c980a1f5e...

Beautiful but unrealistic views....

No, I have not missed the point! Just pointing out how unrealistic(if noble and admirable) your ideas are in the real world. I, too, have worked closely with wolves, and successfully kept a pack of rescued wolfdogs and gave them long, happy lives(and I could not have had better, more faithful friends!), as well as working as a student on the wolf recovery program in Montana many years ago(part of the program included interviewing ranchers that actually dealt with wolf predation to get their viewpoints)--incidently, the video link included a quick shot of a letter to the chairman of Montana Fish And Game department, who is Robert Ream, who was my professor on the wolf recovery course out of the University Of Montana! Small world! And NO ONE has been more instrumental and desirous of successful wolf recovery in that state than Bob Ream! But he sensibly understands that sometimes there has to be control of wolves, and it is NOT wise to alienate the human communities that have to seriously deal with depredations(since they VOTE, and wolves don't have that privelege yet), or else you can turn the tide COMPLETELY AGAINST reintroduction--back to TOTAL eradication, rather than just hunting quotas and elimination of problem animals. If YOU have better solutions, I, and everyone involved would LOVE to hear them! Catch the problem wolves and relocate them? What if all suitable wolf habitat is already occupied by wolves? The interloper wolves would then likely be killed by the resident packs--wolves themselves certainly have no qualms about killing other wolves competeting with them! A zoo? Zoos and sanctuaries are crammed to the gills with captive wolves. Maybe YOU would put up the money, effort, and enormous expense to provide a place for some rescued wolves? Except as soon as you do(and thank you for that) MORE problem wolves are going to show up in short order in the same places! I, too, WISH there were better solutions, but next to turning back the clock and eliminating modern civilization(which would be fine by me, by the way), sadly some wolf control(i. e. killing) will be necessary. Trying to wish it away won't work, because if it did, I already would have fixed the issue(in favor of the wolves!). Go interview some ranchers who have had, not only their sheep and cattle killed, but their horses and dogs, too, that THEY had deep emotional attachments to! But let's DO have SOME places, at least, where SOME wolves can live wild, free, and undisturbed by man. And regarding saving your dog if attacked by wolves--have you ever seen a wolf/wolves attack a dog? You have just a FEW SECONDS to intervene. You MIGHT be able to scare them off without killing any--good luck on that.....

Creating More Readable Posts

Lane, please take the time to write in complete -- and shorter -- sentences using paragraphs at the proper and logical intervals.

To be perfectly honest, after reading -- and re-reading -- this article and its rebuttals, it is hard for me to believe I am actually reading material from three highly educated people with two or more college degrees. One man supposedly has a doctorate.

Everyone writes like second or third grade high school students and one is a pathological liar. He is pretending to have more experience and knowledge than he does. Perhaps he ought to seek out psychiatric treatment!

All of this greatly offends me and coming from Psychology Today disturbs me. I would think the editorial staff will have required a peer review of the original manuscript.

Sorry, butt my editor is on vacation....

Ha! ha! Alvah, I must apologize, but I am EXTREMELY computer challenged, only having been dragged, kicking and screaming, into this bizarre phenomenon a few years ago--forced to by work requirements. I DO NOT keep one of these contraptions of my own, so have very limited access only at work(on breaks, lunches, and in competition with other, much more modern competitor co-workers.) Paragraphs? Ain't figgered that one out yet--besides, I can cram MUCH more into a smaller space--these computer critters can be VERY picky about space--so I have adapted. Also, ain't no "typin'" goin' on here--all these messages are laboriously hunted-and-pecked. And rather than try to be anally grammatically correct(only one very narrowly viewed way of expressing oneself--I rather revel in cultural differences and don't feel one way of expressing ones'self should have a monopoly over all others)I prefer to write(peck) in a more conversational manner, as if this discussion were taking place in person, rather than attempting to win some kind of literary award. I DO tend to ramble on when I write, I admit, but then I tend to ramble on foot even more(which wolves certainly can relate to)--but I learned long ago from a very wise old Cherokee fellow that telling stories was THE BEST way to teach in such a way that people actually REMEMBER what you said--so there is method in the madness, colloquial as it can be! You are correct in assuming I have a college education. In fact, I have TWICT the college education of most folks, because I had to take all a' them classes AT LEAST twict! I'm sorry, Alvah, that you don't like my style, but I gave up trying to please everyone long ago, and find that just being myself is always the best policy. I AM curious, however, JUST WHO you think has "more experience and knowledge than he does"--I was under the impression that the other participants were very well versed in particular aspects of this subject---wolves. And wolves ARE all the noble, positive things they stated. But they are also the things I mentioned, which only a little actual hands-on research/experience will reveal--something perhaps they haven't gotten around to yet, but hopefully will someday, and perhaps my comments will help them consider that. I LOVE wolves, but I love them for what(and despite) what they REALLY are, not some romantic, unrealistic human vision of them. Now just think, Alvah, how ridiculously much space all this rambling would have taken up(it's bad enough!) if I had "properly" used paragraph format?

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Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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