Few things irritate me as much as the belief many people hold that we humans have the right to trample roughshod over the earth, paving over open space and chopping down forests for our own comfort and killing other living things for no purpose other than the sheer "fun" of it.
One particularly egregious example showed up in the Los Angeles Times the other day:
Idaho's governor said he would support public hunts to kill all but 100 of the state's gray wolves after the U.S. government strips them of protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said he wanted hunters to kill about 550 gray wolves. The 100 surviving wolves would be the minimum before the animals could again be considered endangered.
"I'm prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself," Otter said during a rally of about 300 hunters.
I'm well aware that Idaho is home to some vicious, predatory animals. Geography has something to do with that, as does the relatively small human population. But I cannot imagine that the 450 gray wolves Otter (what a name for a hunter!) wants hunted down represent any great threat to anyone.
Yes, wolves have a long-established rep as killers. Some of the stories are, no doubt, true. But I have no doubt at all that various kinds of human stupidity are more to blame for such incidents than any desire on the wolves' part to randomly kill people.
There are times when hunting to thin down large herds of animals can be beneficial. Quick death by a bullet is preferable to slow starvation when herds grow too large for the land to support them. Somehow, I think the 550-wolf population in Idaho is in no danger of starvation.
Locally, there are crusades against much gentler animals going on all the time. Feral cats, raccoons, possums and skunks are all on the "kill list" of people whose trash cans full of uneaten food, gardens and yards have been invaded by the evil critters. One local city is considering an ordinance to ban feeding of feral cats; it has been alleged that another city (mine) has been spreading poison in some parks -- ostensibly to kill rats, which the cats do very well by themselves -- that has taken a number of animals.
I guess this is one of the attractions of Disneyland for people today: when one encounters an animal, it's really another human in costume. No fear, no poop, no overturned garbage cans, just cute things that smile at you.
I've never understood "sport" hunting or fishing. To go out into the woods and blast away to get a trophy to mount in your den seems incredibly stupid to me.
So, of course, "Butch" Otter's call to slaughter 450 gray wolves strikes me as the height of stupidity. I'm surprised he's willing to allow 100 of them to live; I doubt he would if there were no "endangered-species" laws.
Okay, so I'm biased. I've never been attacked by a wolf, have lost nothing to them, and so am perfectly happy to let them survive and thrive. The closest I've come to such animals was living in an area that was prowled by coyotes after dark. We could hear them in the canyon behind the house; we kept the household animals indoors at night, and never had a problem with them.
Shame on you, "Butch." As far as I'm concerned, the most dangerous predators in your state walk on two legs.
15 hours ago