Death of a Wolf

This afternoon, while driving into town from my new abode, a peaceful respite away from Internet and cell phone reception, Marc and Lorenza Cooke informed me that the alpha female (06) of the Lamar Canyon pack had been killed in Wyoming.

Wolf 06

Wolf 06

Another wolf dead. Eleven Yellowstone wolves within the last month. And over 800 killed since the delisting. Hundreds, perhaps thousands more wolves will die before the system protects them once again. If it ever does.

My thoughts when I heard the news were complicated, still are. But my emotions were simple. Grief, over what is to most of us is a tragic and needless loss of sentient life.

There is rarely reason to kill wolves, certainly none at all with these Yellowstone wolves. Kim Bean lives in Montana and spends every moment she can at the park. She knows these wolves as individuals, their packs as families. She’s watched them play, rest, secure food, and travel the park lands in that steady trot that is distinctly wolf.  Kim tells me that out of the 9 packs in the park, 5 have suffered recent losses from hunters. She says that the son of 06 was killed in the same area three weeks ago. These are wolves that previously did not leave the park. And these are not stupid animals.

Calling wolves with electronic devices that broadcast distress calls of crying puppies, injured elk and other sounds enticing to wolves, is legal in Wyoming. Imagine, if you will, purchasing such device, setting it up, and standing with your weapon behind a tree to wait for a wolf to appear. If you’ve read my blog you will agree that I avoid labeling or blaming. I feel most of us are doing the best we can in life. Yet I’m drawing the line here. Anyone who would do this is someone who has no respect for the sanctity of life. They are bitter and detached from any sense of kindness or compassion. Perhaps they have been dealt a bad hand in life, been hurt deeply by others. But there is no excuse, none, for this cruelty.

The folks behind the Wolf Project at Yellowstone must be hurting as well. Consider all the work they have done since the reintroduction, collaring wolves, studying them year after year, logging details of behavior, prey, social structure, and other facts. This is important research. And now 11 of the 88 park wolves are dead. How will this affect their work? How will they handle the damage done to them and their wolves by a handful of desperate individuals and a prejudiced political system that condones the slaughter of wolves? I’d be discouraged, at best. I hope they persevere. I hope we all do.

17 thoughts on “Death of a Wolf

  1. Beckie, my dear friend. Thank you for these thoughts on the senseless, tragic and certainly unnecessary death of 06. I am simply stunned and seem to go from an incredible emptiness and a sense of just being completely numb, and then the tears begin. Again. I remember saying, more than once when we were in Yellowstone in October, that my only real disappointment what that we were not able to see 06. She is truly a legend, and my only comfort is to know that she will live in the hearts of wolf advocates worldwide. And that the very real fact that her death will just inspire the campaign, which has been taken up by thousands, to get this bloodbath STOPPED. Hugs to you. Rhonda

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  2. Rhonda I so appreciate your words. Our trip to Yellowstone was just before all this broke loose, before it became clear that wolves are simply not safe anywhere. I’m looking for answers, we all are, a way to force some justice and compassion into the horror of these wolf wars. So many of us are appalled, we just need to align our voices so we are heard. Sounds like Wolves of the Rockies has some hopeful efforts in the works. Thanks for all you guys are doing and hugs back to you!

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  3. So much of what you wrote echoes the thoughts that raced through my mind while driving through Lamar Valley today. There are times when it is difficult to avoid labeling or blaming and the thought of someone taking an animal that has done them no harm, is one of those times.

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  4. I remember Beckie when we spoke about at least these wolves are safe, acknowledging, for now. For they did not know there was a line they dare not cross. That they would be some of the chosen ones targeted by angry wolf hunters that seek revenge and disturbing notoriety among those that chose to perpetuate their egocentric ignorant twisted agenda. That proclaimed ethical and responsible wolf management would abolish principles of fair chase and allow electronic calls and bait. Truly no wolf is safe and yet they are the ones some people fear. They are the ones some accuse of killing for fun, of killing more than they eat….wanton waste. It is the wolf hunter and trapper I fear for they have no personal vendetta against that wolf they destroy. They are not out to target a particular wolf or pack that has wrecked havoc on their livestock or just killed their dog. They want to trap to get a certain color wolf, kill a collared wolf to send a message or shoot to get a certain size. They have waged a war on these creatures that occur in such small numbers, especially relative to prey, and have done nothing but claimed their rightful place in the environment. Shameful and to some it’s all a game. The wolf always loses.

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  5. Thank you for taking this story and your heartfelt words and putting them to paper. So many emotions wrapped up in this particular wolf, for so many people and for so many reasons. She was a true Alpha in every sense, a fabulous provider, teacher, defender and mother to her pups. My hope is that her family will be able to move on successfully as a pack without her strength to carry them through.
    Thank you my friend
    Kim

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  6. Reading KC’s comment, I was reminded of the writing of Matthew Scully,who said in Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy:

    “Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankind’s capacity for empathy and for decent, honorable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they don’t; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us.”

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  7. Thank you so much for writing this article. It put into words what i can not say and how i am feeling. I am going to pass this article on to as many people as i can that feel the way i do about nature and wolves. Thanks again.
    Melissa

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  8. The more I am involved with humans that show no mercy or love for anything other than their opportunity to take life, I find myself withdrawing more from that part of human society as a whole. I honestly do not believe, I will ever understand what motivates a human to enjoy killing another sentient being for nothing more than the pleasue they obtain by watching it die. Call it sport, call it conservation, give it what ever disguised name you so choose, it still remains a dispicable,heartless practice and fills my heart with dread of what our society has evolved into and what the future holds for life as a whole upon this planet. There is no sense of ethics, values or honor in this kind of behavior. ~ Wulf

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  9. Nice story, Beckie. It will be interesting to see how this incident plays with the rest of the nation – who do not have an interest in hunting wolves.

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  10. I am so grateful for your intelligent and heartfelt comments. When I read those words of those who respond to my blog, at least the comments I’m willing to approve, I realize how fortunate I am to be in such company. As are the wolves. There are people who understand the value of all life and who are willing to act selflessly to protect it. Perhaps I’m idealistic but I firmly believe that at some point in time our voices gain the power we need to enforce change.

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  11. You have wrote something that I have yet to be able to do because I’m so filled with hatred and anger at the moment. Thank you. Wolves have changed my life dramatically the past 4 years, without them I’m not so sure I’d be where I am. I have watched this young lady and her family for awhile now and losing them is devastating and so unnecessary. I don’t believe they would have left the park unless called out…………………. I want this hunt to end now. We have to find away to get them relisted and the hunting stopped.

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  12. My brother and his wife have been involved with the Yellowstone wolf project and more recently the Isle Royale project in MN. My family has been so fortunate to be in the path between Yellowstone and their home as we get a visit. One of my fondest memories is watching them share the stories and show the pictures of the Druid pack and now the Lamar pack with my children. My son is especially intrigued by the wolves, his Auntie, and Uncle and will share with anyone who will listen. I am devastated for all of those who have put so much of themselves into the wolves. I know my life is richer because of the wolves. I simply do not understand this kind of lack of character.

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  13. Thank you for writing and bringing this to others attention. So sad and so senseless… the treatment of most wolves only highlights the stupidity of most humans.

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  14. Beckie, you so eloquently put into words my own feelings of sadness, frustration, anger and outrage over the senseless killings of wolves. I cannot understand how a minority(hunters) can dictate policy. Wolf hunting is nothing more than trophy killing and it needs to be stopped. I will continue to write letters to relist the wolves to the EDA.

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