GRAY WOLVES GO UNDER THE GUN
A few years ago, when I first began to research the U.S. Fish & Wildlife restoration of the gray wolf population in Wyoming and Montana for my book, Wolf Song, there were very few of these spiritual and beautiful animals living in the United States anywhere. From the turn of the century, hunters killed them to extinction. Ranchers classed them as vermin, predators that would destroy their entire herds of cattle if left alive. Of course, this is rubbish.
The gray wolf hunts the prey that lives where it lives. Its natural target are elk, moose, small animals like rats, rabbits, and the like. I don't profess to be an expert, but I read releases from FWS over a period of about a year while writing the book. I learned that wolves live much like humans. Their packs are like tribes. The alpha male and female mate for life and are the only members of the pack that are allowed to reproduce. Young females help care for the pups. Young males grow up and go in search of others in order to form another pack.
Granted, this isn't something most of us know or care about…but we should. Imagine wildlife without predators. Wouldn't it be cute to have deer, antelope, elk and deer starving to death because of over population? Or rats and other true vermin overrunning our towns and homes. Every once in a while we see a news report about a wild animal caught in a mall or on a city street, confused and frightened. This is what happens when we remove predators from the food chain. The prey population explodes.
So, you can imagine my concern when I read a few days ago that Wyoming had taken the gray wolf off the endangered species list, and in essence placed it back on the "shoot on sight" list. An article in the Examiner explains it better than I can, and quotes experts who know much about this subject than I. Here's a link: http://www.examiner.com/article/gray-wolves-of-wyoming-losing-feder...
All I know is after educating myself on this animal, through the eyes of the Cheyenne as well as many members of FWS and conservationists, it pains me to see these animals taken off the endangered list. I am all for controlled hunting seasons for all wild animals, when there are too many of them. But let's face it, very few of us have to kill wild animals in order to put meat on our tables. Most of this killing is trophy oriented. There was a time when the ears of a wolf brought money to the possessor. Let's not let that happen again.
My book, Wolf Song, takes place at the time when this restoration program was just getting started. A Cheyenne shape shifter who is also an alpha gray wolf, appears to Olivia at a time when she desperately needs spiritual support. He has come to help her release her sister Lara to the spiritual world after an accident put her in a vegetative state. Liv's friend Ginni is engaged to a Wyoming Fish and Game officer and when the two start to blog on the side of the restoration program, they begin to receive death threats, and wolves are shot and left to be found.
Many of the situations in the book are taken directly from the releases of incidents that occurred near Yellowstone National Park during the time I was researching for my book.