CENSORED by The Source Weekly, 2/20/12

The following letter to the editor was submitted to the Source Weekly for two weeks running. The first submission was censored because it made direct reference to US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) wolf recovery leader, John Stephenson. A second amended letter was submitted, without any mention to Stephenson except one positive suggestion to protect wolves. This too was censored due to the political agenda between the Source Weekly (Eric Flowers, the editor who refers to himself as “The Gatekeeper”) and the USFWS. Where does that leave you, the public? Duped.


By Vanessa Schulz, 2/9/12

On January 24, I attended the Deschutes Land Trust presentation on wolf recovery in Oregon. Were I allowed a similar presentation, instead of talking about the myth of “chronic depredation” and “problem wolves,” I would say the following:

There is a war being waged on wolves. When Congress removed wolves in Montana and Idaho from Endangered Species protections in 2011, hunting quotas were set to give illusion of oversight. But when the quotas are not reached, the season is simply extended. When the quotas are still not reached—because wolves do not in fact exist in the numbers claimed by the loud, anti-wolf faction dominating the news—then direct killing is ordered by air and ground attacks using helicopter gunships and trappers. Get ready for the next step in the paramilitary assault: Pilotless drone aircraft—used by the CIA and the Air Force to target alleged terrorists—to kill “enemy” wolves.

Idaho’s stated goal is reducing 750 wolves to less than 150—the 15-breeding-pair threshold where the federal government could consider restoring a moratorium. In Montana, hunters will be allowed to kill 40% of the state’s estimated 550 wolves. In Wyoming, 100 to 150 wolves near Yellowstone will be spared (100,000 people visit annually specifically to see wolves, generating over $35 million per year) while in the remaining 80% of the state, wolves are considered vermin and can be killed year-round. Roughly 60% of Wyoming’s 350 wolves will be targeted. With the propaganda machine already in full swing, the same atrocities could occur in Oregon.

One of the most egregious assumptions that goes unquestioned is that trapping is an acceptable method of capture (not to mention the unquestioned assumption that wolves need to be captured/collared at all). If wolves don’t chew off their legs in a frenzied panic to escape, then it is because these traps have been modified with a rod to keep the animal’s head in place, or steel teeth to prevent the animal from sawing off it’s own leg. Dislocated limbs, compound fractures, damaged teeth, impact on non-target species, psychic trauma, accidental deaths etc. are rarely mentioned. Traps are the most inhumane devices ever invented and banned in 80 countries. But in America, wolf trapping just became legal as a “sport” citizens can enjoy, including strangling wolves with wire nooses.

Rarely mentioned are the ethics of killing an animal so closely knit as a family—mother, father, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins caring for children and grandchildren. Few people consider what it must feel like to be a wolf blown out of a grove of trees with cracker shells, chased mile after mile by a helicopter as the gunman takes aim, shot, drugged, ear-tagged; waking up covered in the stench of man, a massive weight around her neck, alone in foreign territory, coming to the realization that her family are all gone. And we don’t mention the emotion for fear of appearing maudlin!

The extraordinary benefits to the environment—from trees to beavers to birds and insects—of returning wolves as keystone predators is too often overlooked in favor of fear mongering with catch phrases like “chronic depredation” and “problem wolves.” The cost of a cow is between $1000 and $1,500. The cost of collaring and/or killing a wolf is the same price (to tax payers of course) and these animals are captured multiple times if they don’t die in the process from drug overdoses, misplaced darts, hemorrhaging etc. What is the value of a wolf’s life? Apparently much less than a sacred cow.

The depredation scare is a myth to facilitate the war. A 2010 Department of Agriculture report shows that less than one quarter of one percent (0.23%) of the American cattle inventory is lost to native carnivores. This occurs in the following order: Coyotes, dogs, cougars, bobcats, lynx, “other,” vultures, wolves, bears. The real killers of cattle are illness, extreme weather and bad animal husbandry. Welfare ranchers would do far better yelling about climate change instead of using wolves as scapegoats for subsidies and tax breaks.

Anyone with an ounce of logic should be able to see that wildlife “management” is a self-perpetuating industry of wolf control: When you break up packs through relocation and/or killing, you’re left with unstable pack structure, immature wolves who have not yet learned to hunt, lone wolves who cannot take down wild game and are forced to go for the easiest prey available (cows and sheep). Then you as a federal agent can go on another taxpayer-funded hunting spree. It’s hard to make a man understand something when his income depends on him not understanding it, but it’s high time the public comprehend this and make a stand for wolves (80% of the public voted to bring them back).

Cattle pollute, cause devastating erosion, spread disease and are the reason Wildlife “Services”—the agency to which USFWS contracts out to keep it’s name clean—kills more than four million animals every year, including birds, costing in excess of a million taxpayer dollars annually. While it has you focused on the Super Bowl, this murderous culture is killing the planet at a rate of 200 species a day, driven extinct by an almost entirely unquestioned human supremacism.

Another myth: People need to be protected from wolves. Consider the ratio of deaths: A million and a few hundred thousand dead wolves… to two people. If you see a wolf and notify USFWS, you might as well consider it a death sentence.

To Oregon’s wolf recovery leader, John Stephenson: Your indoctrination does not bode well for wolves. With all due respect, you have an extraordinary opportunity to do things differently. Show Idaho, Wyoming and Montana that a humane policy is possible and let your powerful position as a wolf recovery leader in Oregon live up to it’s title by allowing wolves to truly recover under your protection. This could be your legacy and we will stand behind you.

Vanessa Schulz

Learn more about the documentary, Cost of Freedom, directed by Vanessa Schulz


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