The gray wolf is a beautiful animal — no question. Wolf puppies are as cute as those of our family pets. As the ancestral species of those beloved pets, wolves are seen as attractive and worth protecting if in danger. People who identify as crusaders for wildlife issues see the wolf as the perfect “poster child” for their crusades.
This, of course, makes the gray wolf also a highly profitable animal — profitable for the environmental and wildlife advocacy groups.
In particular, Defenders of Wildlife, the Biodiversity Legal Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation, the Humane Society of the U.S., and more than two dozen others have made a literal business of filing lawsuits over every aspect of the wolf issue, regardless of the effect on the wolf species.
It’s a scam, folks, proven highly effective at raising money from people who believe they are supporting worthwhile wildlife programs. In fact, they are supporting the opposite. More than likely, their contributions are supporting activities that will do more damage than good to the species the contributors believe they are helping to “save.” Many of these organizations are spin-offs from Earth First!, another advocacy organization that pioneered this type of emotional fundraising tactic.
These organizations have become expert at using the Endangered Species Act and the Equal Access to Justice Act as tools for raising money in ways these acts were never intended by Congress to encourage. Despite this, Congress has proven cowardly and apparently unable to resist letting these acts be used in this way, or to change either of these acts to prevent this abuse. The reason, of course, is that these groups implicitly and explicitly threaten members of Congress with political defeat if Congress is so arrogant as to believe it has the right to interfere with their fundraising machines.
Subscribed members of these environmental organizations are familiar with the routine plea in their mailbox, usually worded about as follows: “... (enter some government agency here) is hunting the American Gray Wolf to extinction.” The mailing always contains a self-addressed envelope, and of course, the inevitable plea, “Please donate now to save our wolves,” or similar wording to extract money based on supporters’ emotions.
As documented clearly in the fine book, “The Real Wolf” (available online), the truth is that the gray wolf exists in North America in the tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands. Wolf packs are decimating many herds of elk and moose by outbreeding their natural prey, and are now commonly attacking domestic livestock instead of that wild prey. In addition, by breeding with coyotes and domestic dogs, the gray wolf is unintentionally turning its own breed into essentially feral dogs, which by definition will not be protected by the Endangered Species Act.
The donations are used to file more lawsuits against any agency trying to deal with the wolf issue and/or send mass mailings to elected office-holders. And, of course, they finance ever more fundraising activities. This also funds the continued employment of the administrators of these groups, which is, of course, the real reason for them to exist at all.
Never do these groups use the solicited money to actually study and deal with wolf-management issues and come to scientific consensus-based policies that will benefit the wolf and its supposedly threatened wild status.
These groups do not examine the wolf issue critically to bring the population into what they say they believe is the right natural state. If any game commission is so bold as to suggest managing the wolf in the same way as other game species are managed, those people are immediately attacked as not doing their job. What they mean is protecting the species well beyond the numbers scientists have determined appropriate to achieve the natural balance.
As former Idaho Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter notes in his foreword to “The Real Wolf”:
“... The real goal is raising money and disrupting or shutting down such traditional multiple uses of public lands as grazing, logging, mining and especially hunting.
“It’s a problem created by wolf advocates who repeatedly move recovery targets, forum-shop for sympathetic judges, collect millions of taxpayer dollars to pay their lawyers, and look for any opportunity to abandon their commitment to pay for losses to ranchers and sportsmen.
“In some ways, the painful process of wolf introduction has been the canary in the smoldering coal mine that is the Endangered Species Act. Transplanting wolves to Idaho was precursor to myriad other ESA dustups throughout the Northern Rockies.”
Rogers of Clarkston is a retired manager at CCI-Speer (now Vista Outdoor). His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.