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Wolf lit 101

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Bryce Andrews not only misrepresented Aldo Leopold in his "Living precariously with wolves and cattle" (HCN, 8/20/07), but he also failed to acknowledge the other side of the public-lands grazing issue: Many of us would rather have wolves and healthy rangelands than cattle.

Leopold's famous essay "Thinking Like A Mountain" from A Sand County Almanac adroitly identifies the issue of how much the loss of the wolf has cost us. Andrews paraphrases the line "fierce green fire in a wolf's eye" completely out of context and incorrectly. Perhaps he should join my AP Literature course back in high school for a refresher. I teach that essay as one of the most compelling and persuasive pieces ever written in defense of the wolf - cow kills and all. When Leopold watches the wolf's light expire, he realizes with belated epiphany that " ... there was something new to me in those eyes - something known only to her and to the mountain."

And so that leaves us with the issue of public lands. Are not these everyone's lands as well as the rancher's? When a rancher kills a wolf, he is killing part of our inalienable rights. He is killing a vital check and balance we are trying to re-establish before it's too late for land and wildlife health. And oh yes, I forgot to ask: How much money did we, the government, reimburse this rancher for all of his slaughtered cattle?

I am reminded of the mentality portrayed in Nicholas Evans' The Loop. The problem is, this isn't fiction. This type of wolf killing is not responsible, nor is the writing. Hopefully, Bryce Andrews will have time to reread Leopold when he begins his grad school program in environmental studies; maybe the second time around he'll truly understand it.

Mark Doherty
Salt Lake City, Utah

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