The rejection of the ruling was not limited to predator hunters or those living "up north." Everyone with knowledge rooted in place found the ruling nonsensical.
The historical ship has sailed. Living in the present, the wolf is best protected if we discourage it from becoming established in all of its previous range. We best protect the wolf by managing its numbers where it does maintain breeding populations so that the people who live there continue to believe the wolf is worth protecting under the law instead of dispatching under the three S's: shoot, shovel, shut up.
By now we expect absurdity and fantasy in our wolf-management programs, but last week’s federal court ruling that returned Great Lakes wolves to the Endangered Species List is likely the silliest decision yet.
In effect, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., declared that although gray wolves aren’t biologically endangered in the Western Great Lakes, they remain legally endangered. In other words, she found reality illegal.
Is nothing easy with wolves? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first removed the Western Great Lakes’ wolf population from the ESL in 2007, but court rulings have since forced the F&WS to restore federal protection four times.
In this most recent dismissal of science, Judge Howell held the F&WS to its original 1978 decision to protect the gray wolf “species” in the entire Lower 48. Therefore, she found that most of the area specified as Western Great Lakes wolf range didn’t offer wolves enough protection.
Specifically, Howell cited Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, North and South Dakota, and two-thirds of Minnesota as unsafe for wolves. No matter that those states and most of Minnesota lie outside the region’s best wolf habitat – northeastern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – which wolves recolonized the past 30 years.
Basically, Judge Howell said it’s not enough that Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan have healthy wolf populations in their Northern forests. By her interpretation, the states still haven’t done enough to meet the Endangered Species Act’s legal requirements. She noted that wolves sometimes wander far from their birth range, and state laws do little to protect them.
She also said Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are “deficient” in addressing the possibility that disease and illegal kills could interact with each other and threaten the species.Are we really supposed to write laws to protect individual animals or entire species from every eventuality? We can’t even do that for ourselves, judging by recent protests from Ferguson to Milwaukee to New York.There are people and organizations whose moral universe is informed by a Manichean view of the human interaction with the natural order. Humanity, outside its original role of subsistence hunter/gatherer, is unnatural and evil. The rest of nature is pure and good. We have met Mordor, and he is us.
This is the same kind of thinking that brings you anti-GMO nonsense, when it is not their children who will starve. This is the same kind of thinking that brings you the anti-vaccine message, they do not believe it is their children who will suffer and die.
They want the wolf to range the same space it did prior to the Columbian contact, and they do not feel bound to make arguments to their fellow citizens. They will use law-fare believing they can force their moral order on the rest of us.
They confuse law and culture. From speed limits to bedroom games, people do what they think is right, and do not obey the guidelines of some far away lawgiver. Using one ideologically driven view of the law to restrain culture without making an argument to the culture just cheapens the law.
The quickest way to undo the gains the wolf has made is to turn the residents of the northern states against the policies designed to protect the wolf. A few will go to Madison to plead their case. Those who stay home will be much more effective.
A group of leading wolf scientists are urging the western Great Lakes population of gray wolves be removed from protections of the Endangered Species Act.
The 26 scientists, including Dave Mech of the University of Minnesota and Adrian Wydeven of the Timber Wolf Alliance, argue the species has successfully recovered in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and should be delisted.
"It is in the best interests of gray wolf conservation and for the integrity of the Endangered Species Act for wolves to be delisted in the western Great Lakes states where biological recovery has occurred and where adequate regulatory mechanisms are in place to manage the species," wrote the scientists in a letter delivered Wednesday to Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Department of Interior, and Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The scientists' position supports past decisions by government agencies, which has moved three times to delist the wolf in the region, only to be overturned by lawsuits or legal challenges.
The men and women who live with wolves have abidded by the good sense legislation that has protected the wolf and allowed its return. If that regulation becomes foolishnes, however, people will protect themselves, their livestock, and their pets with the resources they have on hand.
When we do not feel protected by the law, we begin to protect ourselves, and the wolf will lose when women and men who live with the wolf learn to disregard the protections we have extended to the wolf.