Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

Two wolves were killed in Utah this week. Both were considered "legal" kills by ranchers after the wolves harrassed or killed livestock.

Aren't wolves endangered? Should we be allowed to kill an animal when it is doing what it is genetically engineered to do and not threatening humans? Should we really protect a single industry over a species?

These are the first reports of wolves killed in Utah since 1930 (the implication is that there were very few wolves in Utah in the past 80 years because there certainly weren't a lack of cattle or sheep). The justification was to protect the sheep, a $17 million dollar industry annually in Utah. That is a lot of money to me but as far as industries go it seems very small.

The rancher's advocate (I don't know what organization he was from) said "if we want to see a wolf, go to Montana". That approach is short sighted and dismissive of a natural balance and all to prevelent in the west.

This weekend I rode through farm country along my trip to Capitol Reef National Park. The valleys are lush with green crops in a desert because of the water drawn from local streams and rivers. The irrigation pumps were going full blast during the hottest time of the day. Lots of water wasted.

I also saw the coal mines in the central Utah mountains. This industry takes the coal out of the mountain without regard to human safety and environmental effect. This is not entirely true but it is more true than not.

When are we going to start seeing the impact we are having on our environment and doing something about it. We need to eat and be warm and illuminated but there is a better way.

We need to see these resources as finite and not for profit of just a few. We need to see ourselves as custodians and use best practices to get the most out of our resources. In my opinion this goes for logging and mineral extraction as well.

This brings me back to the wolf. In the west they are seen as menaces because they kill a few head of cattle or sheep a year. This should be a cost of doing business, not a reason to shoot them. We should see them as a necessary part of the environment and use best practices to allow them to co-exist with the ranchers and farmers.

I think I'll put on my hemp sandals, take a cup of herb tea and walk to the fair trade farmer's market.

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