Letter: In defense of wolves
Myths and realities once again surround the gray wolf. Kathy Helcher of the Eagle County Historical Society described the conflict between cattlemen and wolves in Eagle County from the 1890s through the 1920s in a June 8 article written for the Vail Daily.
She cited Andrew Gulliford, historian and author of the “Last Stand of the Pack” whose facts also graphically describe how the wolves were trapped and poisoned, and how wolf pups were baited and killed with food attached to barbed wire and explosives.
When faced with this tale of two images, how should one react?
If one is sympathetic to the rancher, one might want to keep Colorado wolf – free. But not all ranchers feel that way. Some would say that vastly more livestock are lost to weather, respiratory illnesses, accidents, poaching, and coyotes than to predation by wolves.
If one is more sympathetic to the gray wolf, one would view the wolf as an apex species; fiercely loyal to family and pack, taking prey which are sick and elderly, and essential to healthy landscapes. They thrive in winter when prey is weakened and more vulnerable.
Wolves are very shy of humans, prefer wild prey to livestock, and live life on the edge. Most of their hunts are unsuccessful and dangerous as evidenced by broken ribs, teeth and bones. More pups perish than reach adulthood.
The best wolf habitat resides in the human heart. Leave a little space for them to live. The mountains will stand a little taller. Our lands will embrace more wildlife from animals to songbirds.
We have doomed this icon by portraying him as a savage and ruthless killer. Let’s set the record straight so that our children and grandchildren may hear the “call of the wild.”