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Wolves Are Symbol of Cultural Division


Here's lookin' at you, kid.

Picture the kind of person who joins groups that want to see more wolves in the rural West. Maybe a kindly old couple in suburban Boston? Got that in mind? Then think of someone who opposes this cause: say, a rancher in Idaho or Eastern Washington.

More generally think of how those two kinds of people view culture and politics in general.

One can make the case that how people stand on the issue of re-introduction of wolves to the environment is an accurate indication of their overall world-view. This weekend the Spokane Spokesman-Review ran a thorough and fair-minded report on the topic--one that deserves wide circulation. (Hat tip to Lillian Ashworth.) The article is both fascinating and frustrating.

It's fascinating because it really is about finding a proper balance between people and nature. Wolves inspire a kind of awe. But they are not nice people.

There haven't been many wolves wandering into New England or the rest of the Atlantic Seaboard since the Puritans put a bounty on them in the early 17th century. A wolf that found its way to Amherst, MA in 2007 was shot after it killed 12 of the farmer's sheep. Presumably the farmer was less romantic on the subject than, say, the faculty at nearby Williams College.

I wish it were possible for everyone who writes checks to groups that promote wild predators in areas where human beings reside to own and maintain a chicken coop. Make it a very environmentally correct chicken cook. One that attracts, say, wolves (or coyotes, or even raccoons).

The experience of losing livestock to wolves or, even worse, finding one's family in danger, might lead one to more sober reflection.

Regardless, the article is frustrating, not because of the reporting, but because of many of the comments. There are some not-nice people blogging on the subject. Road-rage-style comments display the worst side of people's personalities and demean the topics they write about.

It's almost enough to make you suspect that people do have a kinship with wolves.

You can email brucechapman@discovery.org

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