November 15, 2013 Wolves and Wilderness: Our Salvation
John Muir, ecologist extraordinaire and author/co-founder of the Sierra Club wrote: “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness!” Have you ever visited wilderness? If not, why not?
Recently, I’ve received a spate of emails asking how I remain so positive in the face of massive global environmental degradation? In large part it is due to visiting wilderness, regularly. Near the summit of the White Mountains of east-central California—at a couple miles above sea level—the ancient four and a half thousand-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pines are my ‘slice of heaven’ on Earth.
Further north and across the western United States, sublime wilderness areas are home to the incredible gray wolf. These splendid social animals are central to the health and well being of the last bastion of wild lands in the lower 48.
Throughout history, wolves have been portrayed as villainous critters, which could not be farther from the truth. These creatures are so important that when they eat, they allow a host of other animals to do so too including, wolverines, lynx, bobcats, mink, weasels, hares, porcupines, squirrels, mice, voles, shrews, ravens and crows.
Moreover, the role of these apex predators is vital in preventing diseases from becoming epidemics across the West. For instance, wolves prey on old and weak ungulates (creatures with hooves), keeping their populations fit.
In the late 1960s humans waged a brutal, violent war against wolves. Gray wolves were relentlessly hunted, trapped and slaughtered. The ‘ripple effect’ of their loss was felt far and wide —ungulates overgrazed vegetation, stripped streamsides of plants and caused epic erosion, which destroyed fish habitats and significantly denigrated water quality across the entire West.
In 1974, after they were nearly wiped off the face of the map, gray wolves were finally listed on the Endangered Species Act, which offered the few remaining beasts an amnesty. Almost four decades later, gray wolf populations are just beginning to stabilize within their former home ranges.
Why, then, is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service intending to delist gray wolves?
Wolves, like whales, dolphins and humans are sentient, highly social animals. Central to wolves, just like humans, are their family units, which work in concert very efficiently.
Delisting the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act will result in another massacre. This will immediately destroy their family units, and without family, the wolves will perish— quickly.
The Mexican gray wolf of the southwest is the rarest wolf in the U.S., and although the 75 or so known critters will not be delisted, they will be thrust inadvertently into the fray and sure as the day is long—”accidentally” killed.
We have until December 17, 2013 to unite and tell the Obama Administration not to delist gray wolves. Please take a moment and make a difference by signing this petition and saying no.
‘The War Against Nature’ is raging around the globe and there is no reason whatsoever to recommence it against gray wolves.
Wolves help keep our remaining forests intact and vibrant. Our forests absorb carbon dioxide and store it in wood; they give us fresh air, clean water, potent medicines, a vast array of non-timber forest products and provide exquisite wilderness.
John Muir said it best: “The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders!”
Please support Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife and Wolf Song of Alaska, and learn more about the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program and the Yellowstone National Park Wolves.
It’s clearly time to end ‘The War Against Nature.’ Wolves are the protectors of wilderness—and wilderness is our salvation!
Earth Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster and distinguished conservation biologist. His latest book with Chris Maser is Life, The Wonder of it All
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2013. All rights reserved.