From deep in the bottom of his sleeping bag, in a recessed niche of the Snake River gorge in Idaho, on a cold late fall night, a hunter, warmed by a cozy campfire, slowly melts off to a well earned deep sleep. The long futile day of hunting, still unable to bag his trophy elk, lends fodder to a dream of the big buck that continues to elude him.
Subconsciously, the events of the previous evening’s round of campfire storytelling shared by his hunting peers, spilled into his dream.
As is often the case with dreams, a round of good and believable storytelling by a bunch of guys sitting around a campfire would conjure images around in your subconscious for days! Then, taking into account the stories such as these are honed to a fevered pitch by hundreds of years of historical folklore and myths retold over and over, the story you hear today has no original truth to it!
The storyteller nonetheless swears to the authenticity of the story, as if the event just happened and testifies he witnessed the hungry, vicious, marauding wolves, and the toll these predators are taking on the elk population, “yes sir, these vermin kill for fun!” “There were carcasses half eaten, blood and gore everywhere-Why those poor elk never heard it coming, didn’t have a chance, I tell you!” And then to drive home the point, he proceeds to collaborate further saying, his friends and neighbor ranchers have seen their cattle business take such a financial hit, due to the mass murder of their beloved bovine, because of WOLVES!
So, the stories does what good myths are designed to do, and the hunter’s dream mixes reality and sleep induced delusions into his subconscious, as dreams often do- and he reasons that this surely must explain why he cannot find the elusive buck!……..
The next morning, he rises early as this is his last day of the hunting trip. Today is the day he mutters to himself, I will not let any wolf deprive him of his 5 point rack! Resolved that he would get his trophy elk, feeling irritated that the gray wolf is decimating herds and his chance at bragging rights!………
Whether dreamt, or perceived while wide awake, this is the opinion, testimony, and duty the hunter wears! Then with gusto and providence, he goes forth, spreading the lie that wolves are to blame for EVERYTHING!
I came upon an article posted by Idaho Department of Fish & Game recently. It was about the continued antics of Wildlife Services in Idaho, (division of U.S. Agriculture and Fish and Game). The picture showed a very large grey wolf, being held by its rear legs, head to the ground, a rancher smiling while holding up the dead animal. The story told of how Wildlife Services would run ads soliciting hunter’s help. The at ask them to report any action people may see in the field of wolf depredation. Telling the hunter or rancher to report any and all dead or injured animals so that Wildlife Services can bring a quick end to problem. Saying, “the wolves would be taken care of!” In other words, killed. No proof needed that the wolf had a depredation! Just report, and leave the science to us!
Once again it seems the ranchers are claiming wolf attacks in order that the wolves will be killed. We all are aware of the brutality against wolves in Idaho. My opinion is that Wildlife Services are there to kill, oh, wait…let me rephrase! “To control the the problem!”
So, if a rancher calls it depredation, then it is taken at full face value, whether or not their cow was killed by wolves or not! In this particular case, it turned out, they were justified in taking out the whole pack of wolves based on a ranch hand seeing a lone wolf near his property earlier that week, and it must have been what killed his cow! Although, it seems, no other wolves were around, the lone wolf and his family were “culled” in reparation to prevent further loss to the valuable commodity, “the cow”!
We continue to hear of the vast hatred of wolves in all areas. Wyoming continues its wolf hunt in trophy zones although the limit is nearly filled. Only 2 wolves out of 44 holding the death sentence are left for slaughter. Of course in predator zones, the killing continues. Word of mouth and bragging keep the count as it rises. We will not know until April 1, 2018 of exact number of wolf killings. They do keep a running record for predator killings, and hunter killing, but any wolf killed by a rancher or wildlife Services for Fish and Game, but no report will reveal facts until that date. And they will not release any name involved either.
But, I wonder if there isn’t something psychologically deviant to wildlife services work to control wolf populations. Clearly the message to cattlemen and hunters is that there does not need to be any proof that the wolf was to blame for a dead cow. Justification only needs to be a possibility and Wildlife Services can pad the culpability numbers to paint the picture, and the end (of wolves) justifies the means and the war on wolves rages on.
Their participation in “justified culling, or “wolf management” in what little is left of the wild world comes from a willingness to cede control. It’s easy to berate this compelling need to run things. We harness the wind. We control fire. We control wolves. We control elk and deer herds. Or at least we try. All of this seems ridiculous, to the point that the only thing that seems out of control is our attempt to domesticate the biosphere to the level that we ourselves have become domesticated.
Now here we are at the turn of another winter Solstice, an astronomical reality that does not care whether we, as individuals or as a species, continue into the future.
Man’s unbidden presence in this, the “right here and now” has depended to some degree on controlling a universe of wildness agnostic to our existence. Control is part of our animal need to persist and has served us well. But this compulsion to be constantly in command, even the illusion of it, only seems to feed the fire of species genocide, and to extinguish some piece of my animal nature!
So, tonight I’ll follow the music of the untamed wind, while being warmed and comforted at my campfire. I will not be regaled or thrilled by “folklore” stories. I will sleep soundly dreaming of the nobility of the wolf pack, somewhere in the wilderness attending to their own family’s needs of survival. The elk herd hid from the wolf AND the hunter for now.
Hearing a forlorn and long echoing howl cascading through the valley. The melodic cacaphany grows in testimony to the days events.
And I will be comforted and lulled into sleep by the awe inspiring call of the wild, the melodic tempo of distant drums that reverberate in a primordial ancient subcontinent, recessed in folds of time and memory, that I am grateful to hear and feel.
Nature speaks often, and only a few of us today are privileged to hear her voice!
Sometimes we just need to let go of controlling the majesty of nature and give thanks instead, for a job well done!
by Karen LaFountain