Monday, December 27, 2010

Canines to Love, Canines to Kill

We are house/horse/dogsitting in southern AZ.  The house has lots of reading material, which is always a plus.  I have been reading a National Georgraphic from March 2010 that I found on an end table here.
The cover story is Wolf Wars.  The problem with wolves is that the silly creatures like to eat and survive.  Can you imagine?  They kill cattle.  This makes for some very unhappy ranchers.  The ranchers want the wolves outta there.
We have been around lots of people who are over-the-top dog lovers everywhere we park our home on wheels.  Most of the same folks who feel their dogs are family, will consume animal products that are the demise of many other, just as wonderful, canines. 
If this were the rancher’s beloved dogs who were somehow in an area or situation where no human was feeding them, the dogs would kill cattle, too.  And in that scenario the ranchers would be sympathetic.  It is THEIR dogs.  The wolves belong to nobody.  They are not evil when they kill for food.  They are hungry.  They are no more evil than I am when I eat a a bowl of soup because I am hungry.

The other group that is flipping out about the reintroduction of the wolf, and any protective measures for them, are the elk and deer hunters.  

Because of what is considered the “overpopulation” of the wolves, some states are allowing wolves to be hunted up to a certain quota.  Idaho permitted the legal hunting of 220 wolves in the 2009/2010 season.  This is a photo of hunters protesting against the federal protection of wolves.  In the photo one angry man holds a sign that says “Does Anyone Care About Our Deer and Elk Herds?”.  I find the sign a bit ironic coming from the group (hunters) that are the most vocal about the elk and deer population growing out of control if they are not killed by hunters...on one hand.  And, on the other hand, they are saying that the wolves will kill too many.
One of the most popular bumper stickers that the anti-wolf groups have on their vehicles is SMOKE A PACK A DAY. 

There are lots of illogical and ironic parts to this situation.  If a rancher can prove that a wolf killed a calf on his land or while out grazing on public land, he is compensated.  The compensation ranges from $500 to $1000. 
When we were in New Mexico last month, billboards showed the horrible death of livestock killed by wolves.  What the billboards didn’t show is that those killed by wolves were spared the prolonged fear, pain and suffering that awaits those who make it to the next steps of the meat industry.  Separation from family and companions, trucking, stockyards, livestock auctions and slaughterhouses are a fate worse than being taken by a pack of wolves.  When interviewed about the horrible deaths of livestock, it comes down to dollars.  The ranchers want to make money on the cattle and they don’t want to lose any of their cash cows to wolves. 
A part of the story that is rarely told is that only a small percentage of the deaths really are caused by wolves.  Research into the loss of sheep show that wolves account for a very small percentage of the loss.
In Wyoming, Montana and Idaho only 1% of sheep loss is from wolf predation.  As a comparison, 22% is caused by sever weather and 25% is from coyote attacks. 

So, back to this love of one canine and hate of another.  I cannot find how it makes any sense.  It is right in the same category as the people who LOVE their dogs but will purchase fur, animal tested products (often tested on dogs….but not THEIR dogs), and foods that come from suffering animals.

Jacques-Henri Lartigue  1911 Photo

I watched a young fashionable woman walk through the airport last week.  She was wearing a full length fox fur coat and carrying a large handbag made out of snake skin.  In her other arm was her dog.  I assume that she could not see the irony in wearing the skin of a group of canine’s she does not care about while carrying the one who is her “baby”. 

There was a time when I would not have noticed these kinds of inconsistencies in myself or others.   There are still many in myself that I am sure I am blind to.  I would hope that those around me would point them out to me. When they do, I would hope that I would not get defensive.
But, we shy away from being that honest with the people in our lives….whether it is someone we have known for life or someone we cross paths with briefly. 

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