Fantasies of killing become increasingly bizarre
Lynne Stone, longtime wolf advocate and executive director of central Idaho’s Boulder White Clouds Council in Ketchum, couldn’t help but laugh. For the last two years she has routinely petitioned the Idaho Dept of Fish and Game for every single “ Big Game Mortality Report” filed on wolves killed by hunters —several hundred of them since the animals lost Endangered Species Act protection. Hunters and trappers are required to send in the report along with the skull and pelt for examination. In mid-January Stone ran across a November 2012 report that stated, “DNA came back as a domestic dog,” a light-skinned one.
Photo Flickr/CC BY 2.0
“Buy a wolf tag, shoot a dog, claim it was a wolf, get bragging rights and a dog-skin rug,” she chuckled “Life is wonderful in 3rd world Idaho. Is anyone missing a light colored mutt? Maybe it’s time folks put orange vests and hats on their dogs.”
Gallows humor is all wolf supporters have left. In February 2011, Congress removed gray wolves in the northern Rockies from protection by the Endangered Species Act, the first time a species has ever been delisted for political reasons. Before that, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s reintroduction of wolves to the northern Rockies in the mid-1990s appeared to be one of the greatest conservation successes in decades. Wolves had been killed off in the West in the late ninetheenth and early centuries centuries. But while tourists from all over the country came to Yellowstone in hopes of seeing “Cinderella” or “Limpy” — many of the wolves became named — in the Rockies a reactionary political movement developed against the animals.
By the late 1990s, the northern Rockies had become a redoubt for America’s far-right wing extremist groups: paramilitary culture advocates who saw themselves as armed warriors facing federal tyranny, ranchers angry that they did not own the lands they leased from the federal government to graze cows, hunters who saw the region’s deer and elk as their private property, and those who hated all forms of environmental regulation. These groups created a common mythology, both resurrecting old forms of wolf demonization — wolves as evil, related to the devi l— and inventing new ones: wolves as foreign invaders from Canada, wolves as icons of the federal …more