“On Your Own Adventures” hosted by big game hunter and conservation historian Randy Newberg, recently produced the first documentary of a wolf hunt in the Lower 48. Soon to be featured on the Sportsman Channel, Randy and his hunting partner Matt Clyde over an 11 day period, discuss at length the history and current impact of the wolf population while tracking this illusive predator.
Being an avid outdoor sportsman whose backyard is the Idaho wilderness of the Big Lost River Valley, I see first-hand the impact that wolves can have upon both natural prey and commercial livestock.
As part of the Sun Valley community, wolf management has become a polarizing topic between conservationists and the sportsmen community. Both celebrities and average citizens have urged that wolves be left alone to enjoy their habitat without fear of being harmed by man. Pro wolf advertising has used a technique called anthropomorphism or what others may call personification of the species touting the wolf’s majestic relevance, keen intelligence and familial mentality.
Setting aside this personification strategy, Randy presents a logical defense of wolf delisting and the necessity of managing this predatory population.
As both an avid and educated hunter, I want to support actions and ethics which maximize the quality of life for society at large. Like Randy, I hold no ill will towards a creature whose predatory capabilities are highly tuned. Additionally like Randy, I believe that one species has no greater right or value to survive than another.
My purpose here is not to promote Randy’s personal message of wolf hunting anytime, anywhere with no apologies. While I concur, I think it’s important to put forth in my own voice the rationale behind my agreement and why I believe that legislated management is critical to maximizing our natural resources, which includes both the forest and the creatures contained within.
Reason 1: Let’s first remove the term “natural balance” from the discussion. There can be no “natural balance” of any species when a land mass contains 350,000,000 humans living and interacting closely with other species. Once man is part of the equation, the notion of a self-equalizing system becomes impossible.
Reason 2: If we take the idea of natural balance out of the equation, the only solution becomes a “managed balance” approach. To manage for optimum results requires that I define clearly for whose behalf the management is being performed. My core belief is that the American Sportsmen who live in these majestic areas have the right to have their interests maximized. If the will of the locals is to support management that promotes elk and deer population while minimizing wolf growth, then there is a clear guiding principle from which all decisions can be filtered thru.
Reason 3: Hunting is part of our legacy. Local decision making is part of our legacy. We are part of a country that was founded on a desire for freedom, not legislation from distant politicians who have no generational legacy or appreciation for both the sport as well as the life lessons of hunting.
Reason 4: I am a fan of rationale conservation efforts. I support initiatives to protect species that are endangered. I am also a fan of protecting economic security. Hunting, through all its many facets and fees contributes millions of dollars each year that feed families and fund research.
Ethical hunters maximize their conquest, whether it is for fur, meat or simply protecting their home. Hunting should always have a purpose that is deeper than the act of downing a target.
For those with an emotional attachment to the wolf, I won’t dissuade you from your feelings. I ask only that you consider that management requires difficult decisions and a clear identification of for whom the management is being performed.
Chris Burget- Editor Bulls and Beavers
Chris Koches – B&B Contributing Editor