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Know the West

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The ranching and sport-hunting communities in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming exhibit none of the tolerance of the wolf, much less the knowledge, shown by Native Americans (HCN, 11/10/08). It is hate, sheer hate, that drives these communities' actions and led to the deliberate extinction of wolves in the last century. If the state wolf "management" plans were left in place before the latest science- and law-based decision to return the wolves to the endangered species list, there would have been a second extinction. How ironic it is that the large majority of these ranchers get sweet subsidized deals on the use of the public lands for grazing, and yet they vilify the efforts to restore the wolf to these very same lands. They claim great economic hardship, yet Defenders of Wildlife established a reimbursement fund for livestock kills proven to be wolf-caused. The last part is key, because many more cattle and sheep die from lack of management (no more range riding and protecting the herds by modern ranchers), or disease. That part is always left out of the propaganda put out by the cattlemen's associations.

I think the final solution will be to buy out these grazing permits, and return these public lands to the wild animals that live there. The ranchers there, for the most part, can't make a living without the welfare given to them by the federal government. Most don't own enough private land to make it a viable business. Instead, they could be innovative, and agree that the only grazing on these lands be done by bison. Bison cause much less ecological damage and require less management. And they are much better at repelling wolf attacks, in addition to being a healthier red meat source.

Jim Eischeid