Friday, March 31, 2017

Why Hate Wolves?

I'm starting a project where I'll be looking into the sources of animosity people in Western North America feel toward wolves. 

 I first got this idea when I stumbled upon the hashtag #smokeapackaday on Instagram.

As one might expect, photos with this tag show hunters with their "trophy," usually a large grey wolf. However it is the captions that intrigued me the most. Many reflect a disdain for the animal while others describe them as nothing short of vermin. Describing them as "elk killers" many feel they are doing their fellow sportsmen a service by destroying as many wolves as possible in order to keep trophy sized elk and other cervids available for human harvest. Often they describe this as necessary "predator control." However, this got me thinking, do hunters hate all larger predators or are wolves unique? Further digging seems to show that, though hunters still consider it predator control, they do not use the same derogatory descriptions when commenting on kills of bear or mountain lion. This brought me to my next question, "so why hate wolves?"

As far as I can tell this early in my investigation, there are two main reasons why wolves are despised in this region of North America. The first, and one that seems to show up most often on social media, is the impact wolves have on wild game populations. The thinking, as far as I can tell, is that killing off wolves means there will be less competition for hunters. The second reason is the impact wolves have on livestock populations. Ranches live and die by the size of their herds. Wolves are seen as a direct threat to their livelihoods and way of life.

Right now, I want to investigate if, in fact, wolves are as big a threat to these two groups as each claims. Once that is done, my next task will be to determine if these wolf packs that are expanding across the west are ,in fact, are fulfilling their ecological function.

As I conduct my research, I'll add my findings to this blog so please stay tuned.

However I would like some input. I want to get a better idea of the situation for what is happening out West with wolves. As someone who lives in the Northeast, I admit I am woefully unversed in this issue. So, if you have insight, I'd be glad for it.

However, since this is such a hot button issue, I have ground rules:

  1. I am not looking for a fight. If you are looking for one, just move along. I'm not going to engage with you.
  2. This is not a chance to fight with others either. Constructive input is fine but if a fight breaks out, I'm pulling the plug. By fight I mean using derogatory language or issuing threats to the well being of others.
  3. I want solid data. Numbers are great, as are first hand accounts (i.e. you saw wolves attacking livestock and can provide details). Please no anecdotes. Though they can be interesting, in this sort of investigation they aren't really helpful.
  4. Understand that I am looking to understand a new point of view. I am not here to bash ranchers or hunters. As I said, I have no experience with this way of life and I do not want to conduct this investigation without understanding the mindset of those on all sides of the issue. 

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