Man vs. wolf

In a recent ruling, Rocky Mountain grey wolves were granted federal protection. There will be no wolf hunts this year.  Some wolf advocates fear that the ruling may prove to be a double-edged sword, though; it mandates that the laws regarding a species cannot vary state to state. Meaning that, if the ruling is overturned, it could lead to the overturning of wolf protection laws in three states.

Wolves are a top natural predator, and are frequently misunderstood. They are quite intelligent; they speak their own language, a language of howls and gestures, a language we cannot understand, a language we are not meant to understand. They mate for life, and have a clearly defined social system. Their only natural enemy is us.

 The wolf, in various mythologies, is frequently described as being of demonic descent. In Nordic lore, the wolf Fenrir was pivotal in destroying the world. In tale after tale, the wolf is the danger lurking in the wood, the deceiver. There was the Big Bad Wolf that ate poor Red Riding Hood’s Grandma, and the werewolves that linger in folklore, movies and literature.

I’ve personally always been drawn to wolves. I don’t know what it is; their beauty, perhaps, or the way they fit so perfectly into their habitats. I can’t look at a photo of a wild wolf in a forest without thinking how clearly that animal belongs there. They deserve better than being gunned down from helicopters.  

Montana officials, ranchers, and hunters are already moving to block the ruling, intending to form a congressional panel with the hopes of removing the grey wolf from the endangered species list. Farmers and cattle ranchers are angry at the ruling, understandably concerned and angered by the loss of cattle and of cattle weight. Apparently cows that are nervous don’t eat as much, and wolves make cows nervous. Studies have shown that often simply having a man on horseback protecting the herd will keep wolves at bay, and that shooting a single wolf will often deter an entire pack from a hunting a certain area. One would think that cattle barons, with the profits they stand to gain, can afford to pay a cowboy or two to ensure the safety of their herds.  

The wolf is a symbol of the wild world, the world we seem to constantly seek to dominate, to tame, to reshape as our own. Our own nature is no less predatory, that we hunt the wild cousins of our own “best friends.”

I’m watching to see how this will pan out. Perhaps if I were a Montana cattle rancher, I wouldn’t be so firmly on the wolves’ side, but there are risks involved in any industry. The answer, long term, relies on balance.

It’s good to see steps being taken to protect wildlife. It’s good to see progress being made to retain -or, in some cases, reintroduce- balance into the world. Even Prince Charles, unlikely eco-hero that he is, is alarmed at how “man has lost the once innate understanding of how to live in harmony with the natural world and within its limits.”

 The plight of the wolf is just one facet of a struggle that is taking place in every country, every society in the world; the natural world versus the modern world. We have sacrificed a once symbiotic relationship with the Earth and turned it into a parasitic one. Too many species are struggling to survive; the whales, the bees, even the bats are now dying off. The struggle of man vs. wolf  is to me also a struggle of man vs. earth, and that’s a war we can never win. We are stewards of this planet, and I hope that, going forward, we as a species can regain some of the harmony we’ve lost with our Mother.

“We humans fear the beast within the wolf because we do not understand the beast within ourselves.” ~ Gerald Hausman

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