120 years of killing is enough

This article, written on Earth Day, is a tribute to the intrinsic value and interconnectedness of all life.

John Wayne, the most iconic cowboy of our time, once said, “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life ... It hopes that we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

When it comes to wolves, the ranchers of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho apparently believe the wisdom of yesterday is best gained as if yesterday was 1904, not 2024.

 In 2020, the management of wolves was assigned to states, handing states the “responsibility for management and protection of the delisted wolves.” In 2022, legal protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) were restored to all states, except Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

It is shameful and dangerous what the leaders of these three states have allowed since gray wolves were taken off the ESA. Shameful for blocking the way forward for ecological balance and diversity that is supported by science, and the 30-year experiment of Yellowstone. Dangerous for setting the stage for treating animals in barbaric ways. Ghandi taught that “the greatness of a nation can be judged by how its animals are treated.”

 Practices used in these states include the unethical use of spotlights at night to blind wolves, luring animals with bait, night vision scopes, neck snares, helicopter hunting, killing pups in their dens, and most recently, running wolves down with snowmobiles. 

Cody Roberts, a resident of Wyoming, legally ran down a young wolf, captured the injured wolf, placed red tape around her muzzle, show-cased her in a bar as she lay suffering for hours, bragged about it online with pictures, took her outside and shot her to death, watching as a fierce green fire died in her eyes. This was with impunity. These are not “responsible management or protection” measures.

Deb Haaland, the Secretary of the Interior, who manages our natural resources and endangered species has the power and responsibility to end these barbaric practices to avoid repeating the extirpation of these most majestic, yet most maligned animals. Haaland, who is Native American, should have compassion for the wolf who is being denied rights to its native habitat just as Indigenous tribes were years ago.

 You can be proud to live in Colorado. Acts of animal cruelty are illegal in Colorado. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has worked tirelessly to find an equitable plan for ranchers and wolves to coexist, honoring the needs of both.

 As a teacher, I have spent my career trying to dispel the myth of “the big bad wolf” and teaching that all life is intrinsically valuable and deserves to be treated with respect. In her wisdom, Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” In 2024, let’s do better for wolves, ranchers and Mother Earth.

– Katherine Webster, Littleton, via e-mail