There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from a variety of conservation organizations over the recent decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announcing the delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to remove gray wolves from protection by the Endangered Species Act was applauded by Safari Club International (SCI), U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, as well as ranchers throughout the Rockies.
In a press release announcing the move, SCI President Merle Shepard hailed the announcement, saying "This decision is the right one and we commend Secretary Salazar for reaching it so quickly. Delisting the gray wolf came about as a result of years of effort involving the states, tribes, landowners, academic researchers, sportsmen and other conservation groups, the Canadian government and many other partners. All of these stakeholders can breathe a sigh of relief today that our years of effort have not gone down the drain."
The decision to remove gray wolves from the list of threatened and endangered species in the western Great Lakes and the northern Rocky Mountain states of Idaho and Montana and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah was based on a extensive review of the best available science.
However, wolves in the state of Wyoming will remain under protection of the Act as the delisting decision now faces intense lobbying and threats of lawsuits by leading anti-hunting groups including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
The late Paul Perzoldt, founder of the National Outdoor Leadership School and the first Outward Bound program in the US, grew up a cowboy on a ranch in Lander, Wyoming. Paul, recognized as one of the foremost outdoor educators in the nation, also developed the Wilderness Education Association which now has programs at Paul Smiths College and North Country Community College.
Paul once told a story about the complex problems surrounding wolves, ranchers and "the anti's," as he referred to them. He claimed that their arguments were often driven by emotion instead of science and that critical wildland issues should be decided by experts with their boots on the ground rather than by activists with their butts on a chair.
The faults of such processes became most evident at a Congressional hearing hosted at a high school auditorium in Lander back in the late 1970's. Any parallels to controversial issues currently being bandied about in New York state are purely coincidental.
After hearing numerous ranchers and wildlife experts explain the various methods used to control the burgeoning Rocky Mountain wolf population from preying on livestock, one particularly well dressed lady stood up to addressed the Assembly.
In a posh, Manhattan accent, she explained, "We shouldn't attempt to control these poor creatures by shooting, trapping or poisoning them." She implored the crowd, "The most humane method would be to live trap the male wolves and give them all a vasectomy. When released back into the wild, they will still attempt to mate, but nothing will happen. Eventually, the wolf population will stabilize itself and there will no longer be a need for such cruel methods of control."
Paul explained that a buzz went through the audience as many pondered the idea. Cheers rang out from the activists. Finally it seemed, a humane solution for controlling the wolf population was at hand. Even the Congressmen were impressed with her logic.
Finally, in the back of the room, a grizzled, old sheep rancher stood up and cleared his throat. "Well now," he said to the panel of politicos, "That lady right there has a mighty fine idea. And I know, if you release them 'snipped off' wolves back onto the range they may not produce any young-uns."
"But lady," he said turning to her. "You've got to understand, we aren't really too concerned about them wolves making love to our sheep; it's the eatin' 'em that we're worried about!"
The previous buzz of approval was rapidly replaced by roars of laughter as common sense was restored to the equation as a rancher from the range trumped the urban activist.
In his recent announcement, Secretary Salazar reviewed the numbers behind the decision. "When it was listed as endangered in 1974", Salazar said, "the wolf had almost disappeared from the continental United States. Today, we have more than 5,500 wolves, including more than 1,600 in the Rockies."
I applaud restoration efforts that successfully restore iconic species to their historic range. However, I also recognize that for Wyoming's ranchers, and others earning a living with boots to the ground, there will always be one too many wolves in sheep's clothing.
The Drake Fly Fishing Film
Tour comes to Lake Placid
Although there is barely a month left before trout season opens on April 1; anglers can catch an early fix on March 21 when the Tri Lakes Chapter of Trout Unlimited hosts The Drake Fly Fishing Film Tour.
On March 21, fundraising event will be held at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the show will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door, children under twelve $5.
The collection of highlights and short films will take the audience on a journey of pure fly fishing adventure. The Tour is one of the most exciting fly fishing events of the year. It is certain to appeal to anyone who has an interest in or love for trout and the beautiful places they live.
To find out more about the Drake Fly Fishing Film Tour, call Jones Outfitters at 523-3468 or visit www.flyfishingfilmtour.com.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org