Got Wolves?

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An environmental outfit named the Center for Biological Diversity has filed a lawsuit endeavoring to prevent the national administration from removing gray wolves from the endangered species list. It goes farther. It insists that a “comprehensive recovery plan” be provided for “gray wolves nationwide.” The group notes that “wolves are still missing from more than 90 percent of their historic range in the lower 48 states, and the Endangered Species Act, and common sense[!] tell us we can't ignore that loss. We’re doing all we can to make sure Trump officials fulfill their obligation to restore wolves in key habitats across the country.”

Well. According to Wikipedia, which is not always the arbiter of truth but in this case seems likely (to apply the words of Margo Channing, used in a slightly different context) to be as trustworthy as the World Almanac, there are 50 or 60 thousand wolves in Canada, six or seven thousand in Alaska, and insignificant numbers in other parts of the United States. I think wolves are pretty cool — until you run into one — but this is no endangered species. It is one of many species that environmentalists have singled out, not for preservation, but for universalization.

The “historic range” of the gray wolf is pretty much all of non-tropical North America. The reason why it isn’t roaming free in Cincinnati is mainly that it is a predator on other animals, chiefly the animals that humans use for food. The gray wolf is anathema to farmers and stockmen, and if they find a wolf, they will kill it, law or no law.

They have more common sense than the citizens of a wealthy San Francisco suburb who kept discovering that they had a coyote problem when little kids saw the animal(s) stalking their pets. When the remains of a deer were discovered on the grade-school playground, the doting parents almost unanimously came out in favor of . . . Guess what? Protecting their kids? No. They came out in favor of letting predators continue their predations. Why? “Because the coyotes were here before we were.” A friend reports that similar comments were made when a rattlesnake was discovered in a resort near Santa Cruz, and the mother of a small child came at it with a shovel. “Don’t kill it!” the chorus shouted. “We’re on its land!”

If Ayn Rand was ever right about self-sacrifice being vicious, this is the time. More vicious, intellectually, is the idea that someone or something has a right to be “recovered” back to the place where it used to live. Buffalos do not have the right to camp out on the streets of Indianapolis. Grizzlies do not have the right to eat dead mammals on the beach at Santa Monica. Even I . . . I am Scotch-Irish (mainly), but I do not have a right to be restored to my historic range in the western isles of Europe. My current home sits squarely in the historic range of multitudes of rodents, snakes, insects, and weeds, and I am fully within my rights to keep them from recovering it.

If you think otherwise, you don’t know how to think. If you demand that other people pay for your recovery projects, you don’t know how to live.

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For other discussions of “extinction” and “endangerment” of species, see: “They Shoot Owls, Don’t They?”, “The Hoot-Out at the OK Corral,” “The Great Butterfly Diaspora,” and “Lies, damned lies, and the dodo” (p. 11–12).




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