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Know the West

Thank the lawyers, Part II


In Hal Herring's reconstruction, the lawsuits environmental groups filed are the prime cause of anti-wolf sentiments (HCN, 5/30/11). I'm skeptical. Herring implies that if the "hard-line" groups had gone along with the Obama administration, Old West folks would have accepted the wolf.

I count as friends many Old West farmers, ranchers and loggers. Their visceral hatred of wolves is rooted in attitudes passed down from their pioneer ancestors. It is interesting, however, that livestock-keepers in Europe, from whence Western anti-wolf attitudes sprang, now accept wolves and their occasional depredations. There are over 2,000 wolves in Spain, another 600 in Portugal, and hundreds in Italy and France. European governments provide livestock operators with guard dogs and fund additional herders.

Herring also blames environmental lawsuits for inspiring legislation to delist other critters, and even for the renewed push to amend the Endangered Species Act. Attempts to exempt critters from the act and to gut it, however, have been ongoing for 30 years. Former Oregon Sen. Mark Hatfield was particularly adept at using legislative riders to limit application of the ESA and other environmental laws. One of those riders exempted a slew of timber sales from northern spotted owl protection requirements. Back then, we forest activists were told that if we moved to list the spotted owl, it would lead to a gutting of the ESA. Threats to gut the ESA did not win then or since.

Felice Pace
Klamath, California