By now you're seeing the news reports about delisting the grey wolf as an endangered species in the lower 48 states. Some 10,000 grey wolves live in Alaska, where they thrive and enjoy no protection.
Like all of these kinds of initiatives, battle lines exist in classic positions. Radical environmental (I refuse to simply use the word environmentalist, because I consider myself an environmentalist) groups of course oppose taking off the designation while others applaud the move. I'm struggling to know what to call the "others." Since the Department of the Interior is pushing the change, President Trump, capitalists, Republicans, right wing--they're all lumped together and painted with a red A--anti-environmentalists.
Of course, all farmers and ranchers who applaud the change are branded anti-environmentalists. What else can you call them when the other side proudly wears the environmentalist designation? What's the opposite of an environmentalist? An anti-environmentalist, you see. The discussion allows for no other alternative.
This whole debate reminds me of an encounter I had with a fellow a couple of days ago who wants to bring the bison back to Virginia. I don't mean captive bison like farmers raise. I mean wild bison. Roaming the highways, rubbing against your basketball goal by the garage, running through your hoop house and tearing the mirrors off your parked vehicles at night.
I'm all about diversity, but too much diversity, or inappropriate diversity, is not a good thing. I like trees and I like ponds, but you don't see trees growing in ponds. Grease is great to lubricate bearings in my car, but it's not the best for lubricating my joints. What's okay in one place is not necessarily okay in another.
If we really want to go back to the way it was, all of us European descendants need to head back to Europe. Let's vacate the country. And for sure we'd better not have banks, Starbuck's, or basketball games. That we have replaced kicking around a bison bladder with putting a leather ball through a hoop is horrible; who do we think we are, we modern people, who don't appreciate kicking around a bison bladder?
Isn't it interesting that often the folks most vocal about bringing back the predators are the ones most interested in grass-finished beef and pastured chickens that are far more vulnerable to these predators than factory farmed and feedlotted counterparts? This is the great hypocrisy. Native Americans routinely killed eagles, creating a check on their population. Humans as predators exercised a role on the wild animal predator that had no checks and balances.
The Endangered Species Act causes untold suffering on the farms and ranches of our populated country. Why do wolves thrive in Alaska without protection? Because nobody lives there. Why is that so hard to understand? Just because something fits in one place does not mean it fits somewhere else. You can diversify to the point of chaos.
Making me a criminal for protecting my pastured chickens or baby calves because we as a culture have decided to worship an eagle or a wolf does not begin to address stewardship issues in context. It's a one-sided thoughtless response, like a temper tantrum. A forest fire is extremely natural. In fact, fighting a forest fire with helicopters and Hot Shot crews is completely unnatural. Not too far from civility is reason. I'm glad we have a healthy and thriving wolf population in Alaska, and if I want to see one, I'm glad to go there to observe.
But thrusting the wolf on populated areas of domestic livestock production, especially those of us trying to re-wild as much as possible our animals on pasture, is a direct assault on the viability of our land stewardship. That said, I do not believe extermination is necessary. Guardian animals, mobbing, multi-speciation, movement--all of these deter predation. But sometimes a rogue develops that needs control. To refuse to appreciate the difference between a rogue and a peacefula co-exister is profoundly unreasonable. The Endangered Species Act makes no allowance for reason or differentiation; therein lies the problem.
Have you ever seen a wolf? Have you ever seen a wolf kill a calf? How about kill Bambi?