I never intended to use this blog as a political forum. However, in light of the recent government approved cull of wolves in British Columbia, I strongly feel the need to express my absolute disgust at this decision.
For those who know me (and, quite frankly, even those that don’t will likely make the correct assumption) know that I am an avid dog lover – dare I say, I am slightly obsessed with all things canine. Dogs have been part of my world since the moment I was born and my own dog has enriched my life in more ways than I can ever properly express. While Canis lupus is leaps and bounds different to its subspecies, Canis lupus familiaris, to me wolves still embody the spirit and character of the domestic dog and in turn maintain a very special place in my heart. Just last night I read the heartfelt account of a man’s life altering relationship with a wolf. He details lessons taught about life, death, and happiness through watching and interacting with a domesticated wolf. What is fundamentally critical to remember about both wolves and dogs is that each is a highly social animal – dogs towards humans, wolves towards other wolves. When a wolf pack member is lost, all the wolves in that pack will react, for they recognize that they have lost one of their own. Wolf enthusiasts/scientists who have long studied the species know that wolves embrace each other as important and essential members of the greater Canis lupus community. When one suffers, all will suffer.
The proven personalities and empathies generated from wolves only cement further the pain and anguish these poor creatures of British Columbia must be experiencing as they are shot dead or fatally wounded from helicopters flying over head.
When I heard that B.C. wolves are being killed because of dwindling caribou populations, my immediate thought went to the well-known Canadian author, Farley Mowat. ‘He must be turning in his grave’ was my instant reaction. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading his novel, Never Cry Wolf, you aren’t likely to appreciate the fact that “blaming the wolf for the dying caribou” concept is not a new one. In the late 1940’s, Farley Mowat was sent as a biologist into the wilds of northern Canada (at government expense) to PROVE that the wolf was single handedly responsible for the dwindling caribou population. After several long hard months living in the wilds alone with the wolves, Mr. Mowat was unable to find any evidence to support the claim that the wolves were responsible for mass killings of caribou. When the wolves did hunt caribou, they methodically chose the weaker members of the herd – chasing them away from the others and taking them down in a collective effort of shared teamwork. In place of caribou, even when many were available to hunt, Mowat watched wolves intently feed, somewhat surprisingly, on mice, hare, and other small creatures of the forest. Only rarely did they go for live caribou and, when they did, it was usually out of necessity to feed growing cubs.
While I appreciate that this is one very minute and isolated example of why the B.C. wolf cull should seriously be reconsidered, I can’t help but notice great similarities from Mowat’s discovery decades ago when compared to the reasoning behind the “needed” killing of today. I highly doubt that wolves have changed their hunting patterns so much in that they have methodically switched gears and started to eradicate the caribou population entirely of their own volition. Intuitively, I suspect that mass caribou killings by game enthusiasts are partly to blame for the declining caribou population – just as it was during Mowat’s northern excursion decades ago. Mowat witnessed firsthand a helicopter descending on a large herd of caribou where hundreds proceeded to be shot in an unthinkable bloodbath so that some wealthy game hunters got their pick at the most prized specimens. (Just thinking about this makes my stomach churn). I think that before we start pointing blame at the wolves we should first take a hard look at our involvement in the decline of the caribou population. Nature knows how to regulate itself – it did so long before we came onto the scene and will continue for as long as we, as human beings, allow it. If wolves are responsible for an increased killing of caribou, then there is a finite reason for it, and we, as human beings, should not be intervening – let nature balance itself just as we should learn to balance with nature.
This quote from Never Cry Wolf, I feel, sums up this issue best:
“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be: the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless killer—which is, in reality, not more than the reflected image of ourselves. We have made it the scapewolf for our own sins.” ~ Farley Mowat
Again, I do appreciate that this blog was not intended for such a rant nor do the above words provide suggestion and solace in reclaiming a more simple life. That being said, however, a simple life to me is one where we all live in harmony – both human and animal. While I don’t necessarily think of myself as an agent of change, I do perceive myself as an agent of awareness and, in conjunction with such a school of thought, recognize that we must take a hard look at our relationship with our natural surroundings. Simply put, if we continue to destroy our environment, in the end, our environment will destroy us. While the B.C. wolf cull is no doubt one of many senseless ways we are devastating our world, it is one that really hits a nerve with me. If you too are disgusted by this practice, I strongly encourage you to allow your voice to be heard. Sign an online petition (see the link below) or spread the word through a channel of your choice. Even if this cause doesn’t strike up a strong desire to make your voice heard – whatever injustice is important to you – do something, anything, to let the powers that be know you are not okay with it. The first step to change is awareness – once you become aware, the harder it is to ignore – no matter the unfairness presented.
Thank you for allowing me this important rant.
Yes, I am still pursuing a simpler life, and in that life, wolves are friends, not enemies.