Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's confirmed

The dead Phantom Hill wolf is Jewel.

Some people object to the personification of wild animals. But this wolf, Jewel, was not a faceless and interchangeable unit. She was a young wolf who helped take care of her younger siblings, who curiously explored her environment, who no doubt enjoyed her life and her family and wanted to go on living.

And now she is dead, her life sold for $11.75 and the cost of a couple of bullets.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The inevitable happens

From the Idaho Mountain Express this evening:

Phantom Hill pack wolf shot


Idaho Fish and Game Senior Conservation Officer Lee Garwood confirmed that a member of the Phantom Hill wolf pack was killed on Monday in Eagle Creek, just north of Ketchum.

This is the first wolf to have been killed in the Wood River Valley since the wolf hunt opened in the Sawtooth Zone on Oct. 1. On Monday, another wolf was reported killed in the Southern Mountain zone, which extends east across the Pioneer, White Knob, Lost River, Lemhi and Beaverhead mountain ranges to the Montana border.

Garwood said that the Phantom Hill pack wolf had a radio collar and was a female around two years old.

Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Ed Mitchell said that the other wolf was killed in hunting unit 51, which is northeast of Mackay, on the opposite side of Trail Creek pass from Sun Valley.


Maybe she was Jewel, who was collared in 2008.

Photo by Lynne K Stone, Copyright 2009

As an observer wrote-
During my recent eye-to-eye encounter with B445, I was never for a moment afraid. What I observed, was that B445 was very curious of us (my dog and self), as we were intruders into her pack's territory. I thought of B445's older sister, B326 - Judith, and how that this younger wolf, was certainly a jewel. Her beautiful silky movements, her intelligent, inquiring amber eyes -- well, the name Jewel seemed to fit her.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Requiem for the Phantoms

Near Ketchum, ID, a unique project has been taking place. The Wood River Wolf Project brought together livestock producers and environmentalists in an attempt to keep an iconic wolf pack safe.

The Phantom Hill Wolves, an all-black pack, share the landscape of the Sawtooth Hill National Recreation area and surrounding lands with thousands of sheep, most grazing on public lands. Unlike in many areas of Idaho, where the wolves are scapegoats for all that is loathsome and cruel, the Phantoms were viewed by many residents (including many in the resort town of Sun Valley) as a valued addition to the wild landscape. When the pack denned and had pups in the hills near Ketchum, they became local celebrities.

The Phantoms nearly became statistics win 2007, when they killed 9 sheep and Wildlife Services and IDFG supported killing them if depredations recurred. In a unique collaborative project, the three biggest lamb producers in the area teamed with Defenders of Wildlife to form a coalition to prevent wolf depredation on sheep. Defenders volunteers worked to help make safe night pens for the sheep, and to teach sheepherders to use methods such as fladry and sound devices to scare off wolves. In all of 2008 and most of 2009, only one sheep was lost to the Phantoms.

In August of 2009, a local rancher who was not part of the project turned loose his sheep band without notifying the volunteers who were doing sheep protection duty, and 12 sheep were killed. Unsurprisingly, IDFG immediately issued permits for the Phantoms to be killed. Never mind the project, never mind the wolf tourism this pack created- killing was the prescribed answer. Only with the protests of the rancher himself, who joined the project, was the kill order lifted- although IDFG was quick to state that they would be back with guns blazing if another sheep were to fall.

It is now October 2. Yesterday, hunting season opened throughout the state of Idaho for wolves, and the territory of the Phantoms was not exempted. Despite the pleas of those who have worked so long and diligently to create a balance between the needs of ranchers and the needs of wolves, despite the importance of continuing the study of what works to keep the wolves away from sheep, despite the residents who value wolves more as live participants in the local ecosystem than as trophies for the wall, IDFG refused to make even this tiny portion of the wolf range in Idaho a protected area.

The reports yesterday were that camo-clad hunters were streaming into the Wood River Valley, all eager to get shots at those famous black wolves whose presence is so widely known. After all, if you want to hunt a wolf, you go where the wolves are known to be...

So thus, in all likelihood, will the project end. The Phantoms will be gunned down, the IDFG will get their $11.25 blood money for the wolf license, the hunter will get the "unique" trophy of a rare black wolf pelt.

When questioned about why the entire state was open to wolf hunting, and why not even a tiny portion of the state was devoted to wolf conservation, IDFG employee Mark Gamblin stated, "The suggestion that only by closing areas to wolf hunting can the public be properly served, I believe is a narrow view that would not serve the greater Idaho public well."

Yet, somehow, allowing the tiny proportion of Idaho residents who bought a wolf tag to overrun the entire state serves the public. Yet, somehow, denying the most well-known pack in Idaho protection serves the public. Yet, somehow, killing the Phantoms is a sacrifice for the greater good.

I, for one, do not believe him.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The brave wolf hunters

I noticed this morning that the location of one of the four reported wolves killed in Idaho on the IDFG website was moved from the Sawtooth zone, which is open, to the McCall-Weiser zone, which is not. I reported this on Ralph Maughan's excellent Wildlife News blog, wondering if it was an illegal kill, and, later today someone posted a news story confirming that it was.

Some brave hunter hid behind his pickup, in the middle of the road, in an area where wolf hunting was closed, and blasted a five month old female pup. I just hope this gets as much publicity as the first hunter who shot a wolf in Idaho did- because this is much closer to the reality of wolf hunting.

Now let's see whether this man is actually charged with a crime and convicted- or whether he is lauded as a local hero and gets off without a penalty. I know which one I'd bet on.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cowering conservatives

Now you ask me why I'm here.
The same as you, I'm scared - it's fear.

"Hand Me Downs"
The Indigo Girls

About a year ago, there was a bit of a media uproar over a study that showed that conservatives are far more fearful than liberals. Conservatives, of course, decried the study- not by supplying any data of their own, but by their usual mud-slinging and obfuscation.

The current flurry of stories on how right-wing parents are refusing to let their school-aged children watch Obama's speech on education brings this back into focus, all too clearly.

It seems on every hot-button issue I can think of, the motivation of conservatives is fear. This impetus is only strengthened when the conservative is also an evangelical Christian and fear of Yahweh is added into the mix.

Obama? He's gonna indoctrinate your kids! He's gonna take away your guns!
Evolution? Those atheists are going to teach your kids that God doesn't exist! If evolution is true, we have no purpose and no afterlife!
Health care? They're gonna kill Gramma!
Wolves? They will eat your kids!
Gay marriage? They're gonna turn your kids into homos!

And so on, ad nauseam.

This does, however, explain one phenomenon I have noticed- the distinct slant of political urban legends towards right-wing lunacy. Fear again. I checked out the politics section of and looked at all of the stories, in most of the sections, that were found to be either true or false (rather than undetermined or a mixture of both.) I left out the sections, like Humor and Satire, that weren't meant to be spread as truths, as well as the sections like Traffic and Gasoline that cross party lines. Here is what I found:

Number of rumors: 227
Total number of untrue rumors- 159
Right-leaning untruths- 144
Left leaning untruths- 15

Total number of true rumors- 68
Right-leaning truths- 45
Left leaning truths- 23

Percentage of all rumors spread by conservatives that were untrue: 76%
centage of all rumors spread by liberals that were untrue: 60%
Percentage of untrue rumors spread by conservatives: 91%
Percentage of total rumors spread by conservatives: 83%

So- conservatives spread far more rumors overall, and far more of them are untrue. And, compared with the true rumors spread by liberals, those spread by conservatives reflect far more fear over silly things- such-and-such a store taking "Christmas" out of its ads, for example.

So there you have it. The conservative mindset is one dominated by fear- especially fear of the unknown, the new, the different.

When your vision stays clear
In the face of your fear
Then you see turning out a light switch
Is their only power

"Let It Be Me"
The Indigo Girls

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rambling in Idaho- the view from Craigslist

Want to know the thoughts of a local populace? The "Rants and Raves" section of their local Craigslist site will give you a glimpse into what the locals really think. People feel free to let loose and express their true feelings. What this reveals about wolves in Idaho is sobering. In fact, as i read these comments, I had to keep up a fa├žade of humor and sarcasm, lest I be bowled over by sickness and rage.

Check out the fine command of English displayed by this poster from Twin Falls (PostingID: 1345834732):
I thought that we or the feds didnt want non native species here in idaho they are checking boats and everything they threw these gray wolves in on top of the few timber wolvrs we had and now are imbred and yes there was wolves here before they brought these imbeds in they tell allthese tree huggers what they want to hear i am not againist the wolves being here but they need to be controledor they will kill off all the game then die off them selves because of nothing to eat the wolves are here to stay but the hunters need not be the only ones to lose in this so all you tree huggers out there just shut up and let the dam plan work

The following post (PostingID: 1341208195) from Twin Falls was accompanied by four graphic photos of bloody dead wolves. This person not only has a grammar problem, as do nearly all of the anti-wolf posters; he has a serious, serious anger problem- and homophobia to boot. Doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy to know that raving armed lunatics like this one are out there?
Did you see how many wolf tags were sold monday morning? You think a federal injunction with protect your precious wolves? Thousands of Idahoans are set on exterminating these viscous animals. Call us rednecks call us what you will but you know nothing. Say what you want about your night vision cameras, and your helicopters searching for wolf poachers. If you are so set on protecting the enviroment why are you flying around wasting fossil fuels in order to protect an animal that does nothing but kill other innocent animals? Wolves were exterminated from this country for a reason and they will be exterminated again. Oh yes I will crack open my beer and slaughter your wolves that come to my dieing rabbit call. Then I will hang that animal in Sun Valley where all you wolf loving faggots live.
The slaughter has begun, and will never stop. Beware Peta, these pics could be you next.

This Twin Falls resident (PostingID: 1340967548) needs to take a breath and find a period:
Ms or Mrs Peta are you going to pay to feed these wolves when they have killed all the wild game out there and as you know that has already start with more livestock kills 12 cows in stanley 40 sheep in the baker creek area and what about the kills in camas county the numbers keep rising across the state every year what are you going to do when they come into your yard and kill your dog or cat and they will the game is getting harder to get and they will go for the easier kills and what happens when they kill a child ask yourself why they killed them off once before and why were they lying about no wolves being out there before they brought them in they were there I sen them and there tracks so why don't you get a real job and stop living off of rich people who don't know what is going on in this state

Now on to Boise, where the wolves are apparently responsible for all of those "Missing Child" posters at your local grocery store (PostingID: 1354225746).
It was killed in Idaho, most people don't realize that the wolves the idiots relocated are hybrids. They are the size of african lions and since we have no hippos, rhinos or water buffalos in Idaho, our big game are easy pickings. Adult deer and elk don't have a chance of escaping a working pack of these devils. If they were native to Idaho, they would be a third the size of the one in the pic, then the rest of the animals would have fair chance of survival. They will start eating a elk or deer's intestines while they are still alive. They just don't kill for food, they also kill for the fun of it. If something isn't done about the wolf population soon, the only deer or elk you will see will be in the zoo. Although there are no documented case's of wolves attacking humans, how many people disappear every year, without a trace?
The young female wolf who lost her life today and is the one referred to as being "in the pic" weighed 80 pounds and was less that two years old. A fearsome monster indeed.

Many, many posters all over the Internet have stated that not only do they want wolves to die- they want them to die slowly and cruelly (PostingID: 1352320728).

I for one plan to gut shoot as many as I can before they declare the 220 has been met.
What a deal for 11.75 huh? Ahhh I love this state. I can't believe it took me so long to
get away from the Inland Empire.
Life is good:)

Boise also has its share of ranting lunatic homophobes, adding in some racism for good measure (PostingID: 1347719973):

First off the guy said it was" NEARLY" 1000 yards so what if he was off by 120 yards big fucking deal , the fact is shoot at him or me and your ass is OPEN SEASON you TREE HUGGING WOLF LOVING MEXIKALI FAGGOT. I can't wait to shoot a wolf and tack it's hide to your door, wolves should have never been brought back to the lower 48 and that's all there is to it. This is NOT the 1800's anymore the UNITED STATES has grown in population and there just isn't room for wolves here anymore , get over it and live with it. If you want to see a wolf go to the zoo or go to Alaska. It's not just about the Elk and Deer they kill but livestock, people have to eat and we need livestock for that unless your a TREE HUGGING GRANOLA EATTING WOLF LOVING MEXIKALI FAGGOT!!! If were such redneck back wood dumb fucks then go get out of here and leave us to out backwoods ways... GET!!!!! NOBODY IS STOPPING YOU LEAVE!!!....I'm so pissed now i hope to God one of you DUMBSHITS does shoot at me and see what happens . THEY ARE FUCKING KILLING MACHINES and they don't care who or what they kill or EAT!!!

And they are even proud of their ignorance (PostingID: 1346580374):
You are all morons spreading stupidity and showing how simple minded all of you are. I really like the post where you are worried about the spelling and grammar and you take the time to tell them- that's funny WHO CARE'S about spelling and grammar it CL dumb ass. One more thing that's funny is people that are more outdoorsy that anyone else. OK I'm happy for you once again WHO CARE'S. The fact remains wolves will be hunted and shot the eco-nuts will tie themselves to a wolf to help protect it and people will still show there stupidity by posting on cl. I didn't use grammar or spell check.

So there you have it. This is the mentality of the wolf hunters.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dire Wolf

The wolf came in, I got my cards
We sat down for a game
I cut my deck to the Queen of Spades
but the cards were all the same
Don't murder me
I beg of you don't murder me
Please don't murder me

Dire Wolf
The Grateful Dead

Today is a pivotal day for the wolves of the Northern Rockies. As I write this, a court hearing in Missoula to determine whether or not the wolf hunts scheduled to begin tomorrow in Idaho and Sept. 15 in Montana can go on has just finished, and Judge Donald Molloy did not issue an immediate ruling. Thus, barring a last-minute opinion from him, tomorrow it's open season on the wolves of Idaho.

Over 9000 tags have been sold to shoot 220 wolves. Reports are that the summer woods, usually the province of hikers on a last calm, peaceful stroll before returning to school or enjoying the last days of the summer, are instead filled with hunters scouting for wolves, gleefully anticipating the chance to kill.

Standing in the pouring rain

All alone in a world that's changed

Running scared, now forced to hide

In a land where he once stood with pride

Will The Wolf Survive
Los Lobos

The rhetoric over the pending slaughter has been painful, frightening, and immensely frustrating. Those who seek to kill wolves are not driven by a desire to put food on the table, a need to commune with nature, or any of the other rationalizations that are often used to justify hunting. Instead, the statements point to an atavistic, bloodthirsty, revenge-filled lust, a murderous impulse driven by fear, loathing, hate and retribution.
In Idaho, the elk herds in a number of regions have already been pulled down by nearly 30-percent - thanks entirely to wolf depredation. And sickened by the carnage of wildlife populations that took so long to rebuild, some sportsmen have tired of all the governmental foot dragging...and they've taken the matter back into their own hands. Dead wolves are beginning to show up with some regularity.
LOBO WATCH salutes those of you with the passion for our outdoors and the drive to maintain healthy deer and elk numbers to actually take charge of this situation, and who have the ability to...Shoot...Shovel...And Shut Up!
From "Lobo Watch," an anti-wolf website

[T]he wilds of Idaho are being "patrolled" by one of the largest and meanest wolf sub species in the world. Additional photos and live video support claims that these huge predators are not food chain balancers as some contend but vicious, pathological killers.
Article in the Idaho Observer

Sorry, folks- it isn't the wolves who are the vicious, pathological killers.

As I write this now, the clock inches towards midnight. Tomorrow, many wolves will die, and many people whose ethics and rationality have been subsumed by blood lust will celebrate their deaths.

And it will all be in vain. Wolf hunting won't prevent livestock depredation; it may well increase it. Remove a territorial pair that haven't touched sheep and the newcomers may not be so conservative. Kill the breeding female and her starving pups may turn to lambs. Canids also have a built-in response to control- they have more pups. And more pups to feed means more likelihood of livestock depredation.

And then, of course, we have the incredibly hypocritical argument:
Questioner: Why do deer and elk need to be hunted?
Hunter: Because if we don't control their populations, there will be too many of them.
Questioner: And why do you want to kill wolves?
Hunter: Because they reduce deer and elk populations!

How dare the wolves kill deer and elk to survive! They should be the sole property of hunters! That is certainly what the hunters seem to think...

Get off this damned "Political Correctness" and start taking care of our herds. I guess I would like to think that the "new" wolf hunting season is a start to eradicating wolves completely, but I have NO confidence in IDF&G of that happening. Wouldn't want to piss anybody off. You've seen the bumper stickers that read "Save 100 Elk Kill a Wolf". Well the new bumper stickers are going to read "Gut Shoot A Wolf".

Get rid of these sport-killing vicious killers.
Save Elk

In the mountains and forests of Idaho, families are gathering tonight, under the nearly-full moon, in joyous celebrations with their half-grown children, truly in touch with the land around them. After decade upon decade of persecution by poison, trap, dog and gun, they enjoyed, for a while, a modicum of solitude and peace.

Tomorrow, the war begins again. Tomorrow, we show, as a species, that we have yet to learn tolerance or acceptance. Tomorrow, wolves will die.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes - something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.
"Thinking like a Mountain"
Aldo Leopold