11 April 2012

Of Wolves and Men

This post is about an issue that I've been thinking about a lot, and I don't know how well I'm going to say what I want to try to express, but I'm giving it a go anyhow. I debated leaving out name-specifics, because while I would like to have lots of people read my blog, I don't want to inadvertently cause myself to receive hate mail from people I don't know, and I figured that leaving out one key search-term might spare me the internet-searcher-visits. I did the initial post that way, but have updated it since.

I don't know if you've seen the image, but it's out there, and with a bit of googling, say "wolf", "trap", "Idaho" and "controversy", it will turn up. The man in the photo was my boss on the National Forest in Idaho, the photo is absolutely appalling, on a variety of levels, and even after reading a wide assortment of articles last week, it continued to bother me. As in, standing under the water in the shower, staring at the wall blankly, kind of bothered me. If I was honest with myself, I could say, truly, that if it wasn't someone I knew and respected greatly in that photo, I may not have even read the story, and wouldn't have been as quick to give the benefit of the doubt. I would have been pissed, and appalled. My knee-jerk liberal self probably wouldn't have read into the situation as thoroughly, if it hadn't have been for the fact the person in the photo made it personal.

A couple of days later, in a continuing attempt to reconcile how I felt, I was talking it over with a friend of mine who has also lived in Idaho (but for 6+ years, rather than a few months), and would therefore have a mental picture platform to begin from. I ran through the basics: 1-the picture is horrible, with a wolf on three legs in a trap and a circle of blood soaked snow, Josh smiling in front. 2-Josh was legally trapping wolves in Idaho, on his own time. 3-the picture and story were put onto an anti-trapping website, and the writers received a death-threat, which is when things really hit the big-time. 4-the wolf's paw was caught perfectly in the trap, so its physical discomfort was at a minimum, though its mental state could be conjectured, by anyone with a dog, as distraught. 5-the wolf had been shot with a .22 by some kids, and left to suffer before Josh arrived. 6-I think trapping is completely out of date, in this day and time, and that wolf hunting is completely unnecessary and does not sit well with me ethically, but both are completely legal in Idaho. 7-Josh is now the unfortunate poster boy for an ethical shitstorm, and is receiving death threats himself.

When I ran through things that time out loud, it finally occurred to me, I couldn't be conflicted with what had happened in this situation. Even if I didn't know him, this hunter had legally done something in his home state, had taken an exceptionally gut-wrenching photo of himself with his prey, which was alive and suffering at the time of the photo, and had hunter-gloated about his trophy on a hunter's forum. None of these things are against the law, and I couldn't conscionably be crying for his blood in repayment (not that, in this case, I had wanted to).

Granted, knowing this hunter gave me slightly more peace: Josh loves to fish and hunt, and is utterly at home in the woods, including when they are on fire. These things make him a skilled man at what he does. I know the parts of his character that make him a strong commander: excellent leadership, strength, fight and judgement, along with insight and wisdom to make decisions that make for an iron-wood strong fire crew whose lives are in capable hands.

But blaming and accusing Idaho wolf trappers in general is, as my brother said, like hitting a wasps' nest with a stick. A bald-faced hornet's nest, if you're knowledgeable about your winged stingers. Pointing the finger at them is to rile up a pile of the knee-jerkingest gun, hunting and personal rights folks in the nation, outside of Alaska. And outside of going against another part of the population's morals, they aren't doing anything wrong. It's the laws about trapping and wolf hunting that need to be changed if anything is going to change at all. Sending death threats, whether to anti-trapping activists, or to hunters who still trap, is not generally the best, or most effective, way to evince change. Who knew?


  1. Being generally lazy when it comes to the computer, I only now got around to reading this, and investigating the photo. Agreed: heart-wrenching photo. Agreed: attacking people won't help; attacking laws with legislation will. Aside: I've always called them bald-faced, hmm. Well put, BSD. Grandpa Brower would be proud.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, KAP; and nice eye on the hornet typo. Duly corrected! In the secret "knowing your winged stingers" test, you have scored an A+, for sure.

  2. Thanks for using your brain betsy- it is always a pleasure to receive a well-thought conundrum from you, even if the answers to it are still a little cloudy. Commands and orders from those not respected no not change the ways of those being commanded. Education, critical thought, and loving husbandry may be some of the only successful tools for real, lasting change. don't get mad, get thoughtful =).