Zero sympathy for hunters

  Dear HCN,


If I concentrate really hard and cross my fingers behind my back, I can summon up a grain of sympathy for ranchers in Montana who lose a calf to a wolf (HCN, 5/27/02: Wolf at the door). But one group for whom my sympathy is precisely zero is hunters who go after mountain lions with dogs, particularly in wolf reintroduction areas. I grinned broadly on reading in Ray Ring's article that a "hunter" (they hardly deserve that label) in Montana lost a dog to a pack of wolves. There is no small irony in the man's visceral description of the death of his beloved blue-tick hound. At the time, he was intent on "shooting" his trapped quarry from the sporting distance of, oh, about 15 feet.


One fact that was unfortunately missing from Ray Ring's otherwise informative piece is that wolves are fiercely territorial and will attack, and possibly eviscerate, not only trespassers of their own species, but any canine, be it coyote, blue-tick hound, or toy poodle. It does not reflect viciousness, but rather an evolved ability to keep competitors at a reasonable distance. Hunting with dogs in Wolf Country is more than just barbaric and absurd - it is an excellent way to lose dogs. If wolf reintroduction eventually has the spinoff benefit of discouraging this ludicrous practice, we will have gained far more than we ever expected from the program.


Bernard Foy
Santa Fe, New Mexico





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