In 2011, Congress removed wolves from the federal endangered species list in five states – Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Utah – primarily to satisfy the interests of cattle ranchers. This opened up a war on wolves. Ranchers were upset with the government for reintroducing wolves. Ranchers had expanded their use of land for grazing cows since wolves had been gone for 25 to 30 years after being hunted to near extinction. Despite the hysteria of ranchers, loss of cows due to wolf predation is quite low, 0.0003% nationwide. Where ranchers pay for fencing, their loss of cows to wolves is lower than this average, but many ranchers do not want to pay for fencing. They would rather kill innocent wolves.
I read blogs and other email alerts about the different killing strategies launched by the five states against wolves. State governments allowed hunting during spring, the time wolves are denning, putting pregnant or nursing mothers and pups at risk of being shot on sight; increased the quota of lives to be taken; permitted silencers; and allowed kill methods such as using dogs to run down wolves, aerial hunting, snaring, trapping, and using semi-automatic weapons to gun down entire packs. Hunters were permitted to use electronic devices that imitate the sound of a wolf in distress to lure wolves. The unjustness of this strategy contrasted with the just response of the wolf coming to the aid of another only to be met with a horrible death, weighed on me heavily. I read about how hunters waited for each member of the famous Cottonwood pack to step outside the protective boundaries of Yellowstone National Park (YNP), which meant their pups inside YNP were left to die. Record numbers of signatures and other forms of protest against wolf hunting were ignored.
I saw pictures of hunters and wolves, some slain, some still alive. The hunter is always grinning with pride and delight. One image stays with me: a hunter poses in the foreground, kneeling with crossed arms, leaning on his knee, and in the background is a wolf, still alive and still standing, whose leg is caught in a trap. There is a huge circle of red in the snow next to the wolf. I learned about an Alpha Male, healing after some time from losing his longtime mate, pairing-up again, only to lose her to bullets, as well.
I decided to try to express some of the emotion built up inside of me through this collage. I’ve titled it Wolf Hunt. If you have trouble making out the words, they are:
Outer loop: Montana to expand hunting of wolves sport of killing Alpha Female gunned down bombing wolf dens
Inner loop: trapping is torture dying for nothing luring wolves using dead sheep
I am interested to hear how this collage touches you.
The disregard for life is pervasive in our society and veganism is the antidote. My reverence for life expanded when I became vegan because my choices became about honoring the life of another living individual. In this way, my life became richer and more beautiful.
When making plans to visit my father to celebrate his 80th birthday, he asked me if I would eat some banana nut bread. Probably not, I said, because it will most likely have egg or cow’s milk in it. Your loss, he said. Even though he is proud and supportive of me being vegan, I do think it makes him uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel like a loss at all. Showing compassion for all sentient beings fills me in a way food never could. Doing my part so that fellow earthlings can live free from harm satiates me with great happiness and peace.