Guest Opinion: Stop killing Yellowstone’s wolves

By Barbara O’Grady

I just returned from the International Wolf Symposium in Duluth, Minn., where scientists, researchers, wildlife managers and wolf advocates from around the world gathered to exchange ideas and information on the many subspecies of Canis lupus that inhabit the globe.

Guest opinions reflect the views only of their authors, and do not represent an editorial position by Yellowstone Gate. Opposing viewpoints are welcome, and should be submitted to info@yellowstonegate.com.

Guest opinions reflect the views only of their authors, and do not represent an editorial position by Yellowstone Gate. Opposing viewpoints are welcome, and should be submitted to [email protected]

Not surprisingly, many of my friends and neighbors attended. I live in Gardiner, Mont., at the northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park. It was here that the gray wolf was reintroduced in 1995, and where the debate about the value of this species continues to rage on in coffee shops and bars, in the market and at the gas station, in newsprint and scholarly journals. The jury is out, but the verdict is in. According to many, wolves are recovered in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, thus we must begin to knock the numbers back.

The world perceives our Yellowstone wolves as the superstars of the reintroduction effort. From the far reaches of our planet, people know the Lamar Canyon Pack’s 832F, the Druids’ 21M and 42F and the much-loved wolf 302M. What struck me most at this conference was that our Yellowstone wolves are superstars in the scientific community as well.

The wealth of knowledge about the species that has been reaped by studying these individual wolves over the past 18 years fills tomes of scientific literature. And yet the question that I have struggled with personally over the past few years—the same one that was asked of me so many times at the conference—remains unanswered. Why is it that the state of Montana will not fully protect the Yellowstone wolves from hunting?

Last year, Montana hunters killed seven Yellowstone wolves, animals that live 95 percent of the time in the park. This year hunters can kill that many again. What is wrong with your governor, I was asked, that he allows this to happen? Why doesn’t someone do something?

You will have to ask Gov. Steve Bullock yourself. I have, both as a private citizen and as President of Gardiner’s grassroots conservation group, Bear Creek Council. He did not give me an answer. These wolves belong to you, too, and it is high time for a national constituency to ask him. I have some ideas about what’s holding him back—it’s about political capital. It’s about the ranching and hunting lobbies. It’s about that age-old power struggle between states, especially western states, and the federal government. And it’s about time to change.

Many of us locals have been trying to do something for years. We have been working diligently within the system to bring attention to the issue and to effect change. We have written letters, submitted comments and traveled many miles to testify before commissions and lawmakers. Although we have won some small concessions for which we are grateful, our frustration lies in the realization that, at this pace, we may never be able to make a significant difference. But you can. Call, write, come and see for yourselves. Be an advocate, be vocal, call your representatives. Make some noise, keep making it, and make it again and again.

Montana hunters have hundreds of wolves available to kill during the seven-month hunt. Why can’t we let a few wolves that arguably belong to all Americans just be? Please, please tell Governor Bullock to stop allowing the killing of Yellowstone wolves. Tell him now. Tell him often. Tell him until he listens. Tell him until the killing stops.

Barbara O’Grady is a geologist and owner of Wild Bear Adventures, an ecotour company. She is president of Bear Creek Council, a grassroots conservation group based in Gardiner, Mont.

14 thoughts on “Guest Opinion: Stop killing Yellowstone’s wolves

  1. Tell the wolves to stay in Yellowstone, and they won’t get killed. I don’t care if you are liberal or conservative, hunter or anti-hunter, tree hugger or oil baron–if you couldn’t see this problem coming 20 years ago, you were ignoring the obvious.

    • YOU ARE TOO IGNORANT TO EVEN WARRANT A PLEASANT RESPONSE. THESE ANIMALS LIVED ALONGSIDE THE NATIVE PEOPLE OF THIS LAND. IT IS YOU WHO NEEDS TO LEAVE AND TAKE YOUR NASTY ATTITUDE WITH YOU. WOLVES BELONG!

      • Thank you Donna for telling the above “creep” what you did, and putting it into much better words than i could have. people such as this are “creatures”, and i am wishing for their karma soon.

  2. Our wolves lived successfully for thousands of years, our country was lush in rich soil, clean water and air. My ancestors, Cherokee and multiple native nations regard the wolf sacred. Now our land is riddled by poor soil, water that struggles to flow in certain areas. The wolves were killed off. It has been 100 years to restore wolf packs and just when biologists rallied that there is proof of environmental improvement when wolves roam free, just as there numbers being a slow increase, just as tourism brings needed income in wolf states, …..
    KILL BY HUNTER’S TICKET?
    Shame on you! My country use to stand in the land of the free. Free of what, many petitions and conferences presented the people’s choice to protect end keep wolves on the endanger list and what is the states and government doing?
    Wolves blood is on you!

    • SI SI SEÑOR TE DOY TODO MI APOYO BELEN DESDE ESPAÑA EL LOBO ES UNA ANIMAL MILENARIO QUE ACOMPÀÑO AL HOMBRE TODA SU EXISTENCIA USYTEDES LOCS AMERICANOSSS MAS QUE LOCOS E IGNORANTESS FRENAR ESTO DIFUNDIR EN TV EN RADIO NO PODEIS ASESINAR DE ESTA FORMA REPETAR VENRAR AL LOBO MITICO ANIMAL BIBLICO HISTRICO FUNDADOR DE ROMA CUNA DE LA CULTURA COMO PUEDE SER
      EN ALEMANIA ESTAN REPOBLANDIO ESTA ESPECIE SI HAN HECHO YA REPOBLACIONES EN ALEMANIA EUROPA USTEDE ESTADOS UNIDOS DE AMERICA UN PAIS CON RELATIVA HISTORIA CULTO Y CON PODER ECONOMICO MAS QUE SUFIECIENTE PARA MANTENER ESTA ESPECIE LO VAN A ANIQUILAR POR QUE UN PO LITICUCHO IGNORANTE LO DA RIENDA SUELTA SU CAZAA MASIVA??? NO PERMITIR ESTO AMERICANOS LEVANTENSE DE SU SILLON COMODO LUCHEN POR ESTA ESPECIE SAGRADA MITICA Y CULTURAL ESPERO OIGAN MI VOZ DESDE ESPAÑA Y QUE OIGAN MAS VOCES DESDE EL RESTO DEL MUNDOOO

    • While my “people” are not native to this land, I understand your frustration. I am a wolf activist and have been for many years. I wish I knew the way it was so long ago. To walk the Red Road. . . To live in peace and harmony with the wild life. I agree 100% as to what you have said. But the war on wolves will end soon because of mankind’s hatred and greed. One day, all Rainbow Warriors from all the land, all the world will join together to bring peace and love back to Mother earth.

  3. I find it sad that wolves from my country were positioned in your country under the guise of repopulation, only to be later have their protection taken away, to be hunted. Shame on Montana.

  4. I have followed the progress of the Yellowstone wolves for many years now. It appears to me that the wolf is not only good for the Eco system but also good for tourism in states such as Wyoming and Montana. If killing these beautiful animals is necessary, as some people think than limit the number of wolves taken and only let hunters that have paid a high price $1,000 for their license to hunt the wolf. Collar all the Yellowstone wolves and make it illegal to hunt them. Man will never be happy unless he controls everything. So sad. We have come so far I. Reestablishing the wolf to just let them become extinct again.

  5. I live in Texas, and I was under the assumption that the wolves in Yellowstone were protected and could not be harmed.. I own an artic wolf hybrid and this hurts my heart to know that ppl are killing them

  6. To Gary W.. The wolves are being baited out of the park, which we are all sure that you are well aware of and find this quite amusing. The wolf hunt has brought out a sub-culture of animal abusers who have realized that as long as you are torturing a wild species, it is legal. And fun, they claim.

    This issue has brought out an even larger issue, the obvious, in your face in the light of day corruption in our government, and the seriousness of our lack of protections for all animals, including the wildlife. I fully agree with the auther that it is time for a change, and that it needs to happen with the people making some real noise and not giving up. I am disappointed in her comment that the hunters have hundreds of other wolves to kill, while I think the intent was meant to protect Yellowstone. They are ALL beautiful, sacred, essential and INNOCENT. They all need respect and protection from abuse. All animal abuse needs to be taken seriously.

  7. Why didn’t anyone really listen as far back as the 40s and 50s when people started buying their “meat” in butcher shops and grocery stores? People who hunted for food too their S&H Green Stamp books and headed for the stores. Most who stayed in the woods stayed because they ENJOYED KILLING. They said they ENJOYED hunting. They KILL FOR FUN. We just weren’t listening. These people thrill to the very thing that makes bile rise in our throats. “They” have gained control of our wildlife. Wildlife management has been reduced to something akin to watering and fertilizing poppy fields for heroin addicts. We don’t buy smack for heroin addicts, we don’t buy crack for crack addicts. We don’t give compulsive gamblers cash and a ride to the casino. Why are we, the taxpayers, allowing our wildlife to be little more than a cheap “fix” for these thrill-kill high addicts? They make up about 4% of the population but they are 4% of the population that “KILLS SENTIENT BEINGS FOR FUN.” We pay enormous amounts of attention to depression. We run TV shows on people who keep too much junk and we get them mental health care. If a kid doesn’t want to sit still in class, we medicate him. These people who openly profess to indulging in killing for fun – these people we’re ignoring. Why? Because Cabelas says to?

  8. I very much enjoyed all these comments except the very first one.These sort of folks are a real problem. I have to believe these wrongs committed by evil folks will be avenged and things will be right again. “I have to believe this.”

  9. A few years ago I went to Yellowstone to see the wildlife, especially the wolves. I saw every animal except the wolf. Even though I was disappointed, I was thrilled to know that the wolves were doing their job in Yellowstone by weeding out the old and sick from the elk herd. To kill these animals for sport seems senseless. The Native American people of our country, only killed for food and hides for clothing. They respected all animals and didn’t kill for sport. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from these people. As for the comment by the first individual to kill them all, well he is obviously 3 french fries short of a happy meal. I feel sorry for him.

  10. Wow. I think most all of you need to take a reading comprehension course. I never said I support killing all the wolves (I don’t). I never said I like the wolf hunting season (I don’t). What I said was the only way for a wolf not to be killed is to stay in the Park. The knee-jerk reactions posted here are exactly why we liberals get constantly ignored and put down. The environment the wolves re-entered is completely different from 100 years ago, like it or not. There are ranchers, homeowners and yes, hunters in great abundance in the entire West. Wolves outside the Park must be managed, just like all wildlife, like it or not. And, unfortunately, hunting is a very useful wildlife management tool. Reality is in your sight. Just see it.