That howl you hear has been coming from the Northwestern part of the nation. In the past month, both Idaho and Montana have opened up a wolf-hunting season. I personally opened up a mountain lion season at my house after more than 20 goats have been killed. Near Baker, Ore., two wolves were killed by federal hunters. The utterly amazing thing is that the wolf has nearly as large of a cheering section in the battle as does the human. All I can say is I wish every one of those individuals rooting for the predator could have been with me the other night, on foot in the middle of my pasture at 10:30 p.m. knowing that a predator was lurking. For the inquiring minds, we did spotlight him 200 feet in front of us and let me just close by saying that I am no Davy Crockett and he is still terrorizing someone else.
We can talk a lot about the loss of property through livestock deaths but, for me, it unfolds a couple of other ways. It is truly an invasion to know that this creature is lurking out there, at most times simply observing your every move. That is a feeling every do-gooder needs to experience, as well. The other and more important issue is that I take great pride in providing my three daughters the opportunity to grow up in the country where you don't have to worry about where they go and what they might encounter. All of that changes when you have a predator in the area and you are forced to keep your youngest daughters confined to the front yard of the house.
How much do people love the predator? Well, I am not going to name the first person who shot and killed a legal wolf in the state of Idaho, because I do not in any way want to contribute to his harassment. But the guy has been bombarded with hate mail and was even sent death threats at home because he killed a wolf. In the 1990s, federal officials reintroduced wolves to the Northern Rockies and, let me tell you, it worked. Idaho has authorized killing 220 and Montana 75 in the first season.
Some people are up in arms about the killing of the wolf, but who is crying for the 27 sheep, a goat and a calf that were killed on two ranches since April 10, in Oregon, that led the federal hunters to kill? Let me assure you that the predators do not follow the policies of the rest of this nation when an animal's life is taken. They do not follow any humane animal handling guidelines. They don't even care if the animal is rendered fully unconscious before they begin eating it. Yet, the very same people who do not want us to respectfully harvest cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep and goats are the first to cheer on the wolf to kill, in the violent manner that they do--explain that to me.
One scientist explained that is it important for the ecosystem to have the wolves preying on big game, otherwise the deer and elk would gather around watering holes like livestock. Okay, so if we agree on that point, wouldn't it also be logical that the wolf needs a predator, as well?
Actually, when you boil down all of these attacks on hunters, they are really nothing other than people who are trying to apologize for being human. I do not apologize for being at the top of the food chain. I do not apologize for being more intelligent than other species. In fact, I believe that since the beginning of time, it was designed that way. But the truth of the matter is that most Americans have it far too cushy; so, the best thing they can spend their time doing is worrying about a killing machine (wolf, lion or bear) that in no way shape or form affects their day-to-day life.
What if it were your pet that was being hunted, like my goat kids are stalked every day? What if your kids couldn't play at the playground because mountain lions or wolves were waiting in the woods on the edge of the playground? What if your very source of pride, as well as income, your business (in our case, our livestock that we proudly produce to feed the nation's hungry) suddenly was dismembered bit by bit and forced you into dire financial straits? Would you look at these wild, ferocious beasts in a different light? Perhaps if one were staring in your glass patio doors, eyeing your toddler on the floor, you might just lose that soft spot in your heart for some of the most vicious killers in our country.
Editor's note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or e-mail Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.