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Know the West

Wolves in the schools

  The superintendent of Wyoming's Fremont County School District recently canceled wolf presentations at three elementary schools in Lander. Wild Sentry, a Montana-based wolf education program, has successfully taught thousands of kids in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho about the controversy and stereotypes surrounding the animal. But when area ranchers learned the program was coming to town, some complained to school board members, saying it leaned toward the fluffy side of wolves. Superintendent Wayne King figured it would be better to drop the wolf show than risk ruffling feathers. "We've got a bond issue coming up and we don't want to rile people up over this," King told the Wyoming State Journal. Sponsors of the program howled in disbelief. June Rain, of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, said, "It is outrageous that a special interest group can push around our educational system like this. But it is typical of the intimidation tactics ... that the livestock industry exerts on all public-lands issues." King, prompted by numerous parental outcries, finally decided to offer families an evening presentation on wolves, which 430 people attended. And Wild Sentry's wolf program went off without a hitch at nearby schools on the Wind River Indian Reservation.