By Hal Herring
I wrote about and celebrated the delisting of the gray wolf here on this blog a few weeks ago, and I spent much of the winter working on yet another story about wolves and how the delisting came about after environmental groups filed just one too many cart-tipping, camel’s-back-breaking lawsuits on behalf of their favorite predator.
Over the years, I’ve written perhaps too much about how the environmental groups made a critical mistake with their single-species (wolf) focus. The angry cynic in me saw all those photos of gamboling wolf pups juxtaposed with those warnings of impending slaughter by us hunters, and saw, not a campaign to protect wolves, but a very shrewd campaign to use emotion to gather new members and money.
For years I could not understand the blindness- could not understand how highly-respected groups like Defenders of Wildlife, or the Natural Resources Defense Council, could not read the wind, see how very moderate people were turning against them, as wolf numbers grew close to 2,000, while they still claimed loudly (and repeatedly in court) that wolf recovery was incomplete. Working as a reporter and living in wolf country, in a ranching and outfitting town, talking to hunters from all over the West, I watched as the die-hard wolf-advocates managed to convince pretty much anybody who was watching that they were indeed the anti-hunting, anti-ranching, pro-big “gubmint” radicals that their foes have forever claimed they were.
But while I’m throwing these sharp rocks, I’m very aware that many of us Western big game hunters are now living in a big glass house. The wolf issue has set the environmentalist groups back quite a bit. But the blowback has hit us hard, too. Let me explain.