By the time comment-taking ended this year on an environmental impact statement about the plan, 160,264 people had put their opinions on paper. Reactions were generally strident, convincing federal officials that misunderstanding was rampant about the gray wolf and its place as a predator in the Northern Rockies. A sample of the most pointed - and inadvertently humorous - comments:
* "I strongly believe that we, as humans, need to put nature back in its place."
* "Since I don't have any facts on wolves, this is strictly opinion."
* "I've had my face kissed by wolves. They have a loving social structure."
* "Wolves don't pay taxes."
* "I think they are a beautiful animal. I shot one in British Columbia and had it mounted, and I have it in my home. I enjoy looking at it every day."
* "We have destroyed our environment. I can't believe people have overlooked this."
* "It's a little bit like allowing gays into the military, but not if they admit they're gay. Allow wolves into Yellowstone, but only if they don't behave like wolves."
* "Wolves do not kill people. Fatty beef does."
* "Fears about wolves are stereotypes, and they belong in Yellowstone."
* "Only a brain-dead son-of-a-bitch would favor reintroduction of wolves."
* "Only a fool would not agree to the placement of this beautiful and essential animal."
* "It's like, it's like inviting the AIDS virus."
* "Wolves tend to eat the most vulnerable animals, which are typically the very young, old or weekend animals."
* "Why don't we first test the wolf in the wilderness of Washington, D.C., before we put it near unarmed tourists?"
* "Our pigs got rabies and howled like wolves."
* "I don't like it because I don't think the wolves should be moved involuntarily. Right now, the wolves are comfortable where they are."
* "Wolves don't help feed and water the livestock and they don't help raise food for people to eat so what good are they?"
* "Everyone knows the Big Bad Wolf is worse than the Three Bears."
* "We see this creature as a symbol of emerging sexuality, as in Elle a vu le loup (She has seen the wolf)."
* "There are too many misconsumptions about wolves."
* "When did God and Mother Nature die and turn everything over to EIS and EPA?"
* "My forefathers suffered mercilessly at the hands of the wolf."
* "Environmentalists: They can piss a person off."
* "I lived with wolves for three years. If these Bunny Huggers think they are going to stand still while they take their pictures, they are out of their minds!!'
* "If cattle weren't so slow and stupid, maybe a wolf wouldn't see a free meal. And so ranchers' arguments in this shouldn't be addressed."
* "Will it be legal to eat wolves when we run out of cattle?"
* "Buy land out East for reintroduction of wolves. Then listen to the howling."
* "I've known timber fellers to come in before noon, because a pack of wolves was sitting in a big circle around them laughing at them, like any dog does."
* "I've killed several wolves. I'd have killed more if I got my way. I've even run over them with my truck."
* "Most endangered animals make too much money to be delisted."
* Sherry Devlin
Sherry Devlin is an environmental reporter for the Missoulian in Missoula, Montana.