Wolves to the Slaughter

In April 2001, a U.S. government wildlife trapper named Carter Niemeyer choppered into the mountains of central Idaho to slaughter a pack of wolves whose alpha female was famed for her whiteness. He hung from the open door of the craft with a semiautomatic shotgun, the helicopter racing over the treetops. Then, in a clearing, Niemeyer caught a glimpse of her platinum fur. Among wolf lovers in Idaho, she was called Alabaster, and she was considered a marvel—most wolves are brown or black or gray. People all over the world had praised Alabaster, had written about her, had longed to see her in the flesh. Livestock ranchers in central Idaho, whose sheep and cows graze in wolf country, felt otherwise. They claimed Alabaster and her pack—known as the Whitehawks—threatened the survival of their herds, which in turn threatened the rural economy of the high country. She had to be exterminated. 

When Alabaster appeared in Niemeyer’s sights, a hundred feet below the helicopter, her ears recoiled from the noise and the rotor wash, but she was not afraid. She labored slowly along a ridge, looking, Niemeyer says, “like something out of a fairy tale.” 

Then he shot her. At the time, wolves were considered a rare species in Idaho and across the Northern Rockies, and they were protected under the Endangered Species Act. But they could be targeted for “lethal control” if they made trouble—if they threatened a human being, which almost never happened, or, more commonly, if they were implicated in attacking cattle and sheep. The Whitehawks allegedly had been enjoying a good number of cows and sheep that spring and were said to have killed at least one rancher’s guard dog. 

As a trapper for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and later as a wolf expert for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Niemeyer was trained to control predators, mostly coyotes and foxes. In 26 years working for the government, he had killed thousands of coyotes. But wolves are a different kind of kill. As predators, they are exquisite. Niemeyer had taken a liking to wolves. He respected them. 

There were four other members of the pack, scattered in the woods. The helicopter circled, flushing them out, and Niemeyer shot them as they ran. When he necropsied Alabaster at the kill site—gutting her, stripping her pelt—he found she was pregnant with nine pups that were two weeks from birth, almost fully formed. He buried each pup.

Canis lupus, the largest of the planet’s wild dogs, once numbered in the hundreds of thousands in the U.S. The creatures are powerful—the largest males, six and half feet from tooth to tail, weigh 140 pounds—and they are agile and cunning. They run in packs of seven to ten animals that consist of a father and mother—the alphas—along with pups and subordinate males and females, unrelated to the family but welcomed in their midst. The wolf is an apex predator, at the top of its food chain, keeping prey from overpopulating, which maintains a balanced ecosystem. 

With European settlement and the decimation of its native prey—buffalo, elk, mule deer—the wolf was bound for destruction. It was now killing for its meals the domesticated sheep and cattle that settlers had ranged across the grasslands and the mountains. Hated for its depredations, the wolf was hunted mercilessly—shot, trapped, poisoned with strychnine, fed glass shards stuffed in bait, its pups asphyxiated by fires set in their dens. By 1935, the gray wolf had disappeared almost entirely from the U.S. 

Decades later, during the high tide of 1970s environmentalism, conservationists began to agitate for a government-sponsored recovery. The evidence suggested that the loss of the wolves had destabilized the ecology of the Northern Rockies. Following the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service undertook the recovery of the wolf in the region. It wasn’t until 1991, however, that Congress mandated an impact study of wolf reintroduction. By 1994, funding had been approved for Fish and Wildlife biologists to remove 66 gray wolves from Canada, where the animals still numbered in the tens of thousands, and truck them south for release in central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. 

Niemeyer, now retired in Boise, was among the trappers who traveled to Canada in 1995 to capture and radio-collar the reintroduced wolves. The reintroduction, he told me, had been one of the epic wildlife-recovery stories in U.S. history; in little more than 15 years, the number of wolves in the Northern Rockies had gone from 66 to roughly 1,600. Yet concerns about the threat posed by the wolves to cow, sheep, and elk populations had led to a stark reversal. After spending upward of $40 million studying the animals—then capturing, collaring, tracking, and protecting them—the federal government last year scheduled wolves to be killed in huge numbers across the Northern Rockies. In April 2011, following a series of lawsuits and an unprecedented intervention by Congress, canis lupus was removed from the endangered species list. 

Today, as a result of the delisting, anyone can shoot a wolf—you don’t have to be a government trapper. Wolves can in some circumstances be shot on sight. Niemeyer, who is six foot six inches and giant-shouldered, shot 14 wolves in the course of his government career; the Whitehawks were his last. He maintains a taxidermy studio in his garage and says he’s “not into the warm and fuzzy thing” when it comes to wild animals. “I’m not grossed out by wolves being hunted, trapped, killed,” he says. “I’d skin one today if you brought it to me. What I’m caught up in is honesty. What you have with wolf delisting is half-truths, untruths, hysteria, and just downright craziness.” 


The ranching industry in the American West has been the historic enemy of wolves, so it was fitting that ranchers in Montana and Idaho called for hunting them almost from the moment of their reintroduction. The American Farm Bureau Federation, a nonprofit advocate for farming and ranching interests, had even sued preemptively in 1994 to stop the reintroduction, but a federal court rejected the suit. In 2008, however, Western livestock interests found a sympathetic ear in the Bush administration’s Department of the Interior, which issued what would become the first of multiple orders to remove the wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Following a lawsuit filed by 12 conservation groups that challenged the decision, the U.S. District Court in Montana found that the department had “acted arbitrarily in delisting the wolf” and reinstated the act’s protections. Judge Donald Molloy pointed to a glaring discrepancy: Biologists had determined that only with the genetic commingling of the three “distinct population segments” of wolves—in central Idaho, Yellowstone National Park, and northwestern Montana—would the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf have a chance at long-term survival. A 2009 study in BioScience magazine concluded that absent this genetic exchange, the population would be “genetically depleted, small, and ineffective in terms of ecosystem function.” The Interior Department’s own environmental impact study, conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had come to the same conclusion. Yet the department had removed the Endangered Species Act protections “without any evidence of genetic exchange,” wrote Judge Molloy, who found a “possibility of irreparable harm” if the delisting went unchallenged. 

The matter remained at an impasse until President Barack Obama’s newly appointed interior secretary, Ken Salazar, resurrected the Bush-era delisting plan in April 2009. The decision infuriated pro-wolf conservationists, though it was not unexpected. Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, comes from a family of five generations of ranchers. A new lawsuit was filed by a coalition that included 14 environmental groups, among them the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Humane Society, and smaller outfits like the Center for Biological Diversity. While the suit was pending, Idaho and Montana opened a hunting season that resulted in the culling of more than 500 wolves—some 32 percent of the entire Northern Rockies population. A year later, in August 2010, Judge Molloy again ruled in the conservationists’ favor. He determined that the de-listing violated the letter and the spirit of the Endangered Species Act; he found no evidence of genetic exchange among wolf sub-populations. He also ruled that Fish and Wildlife had failed to properly oversee wolf management plans in Idaho and Montana. The judge ordered that year’s wolf hunts to be canceled. 

The ongoing litigation drew the ire of Republican politicians throughout the West. Denny Rehberg, Montana’s lone congressman, presented two bills during 2011 for a legislative delisting of the wolf, including one to “amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to provide that Act shall not apply to the gray wolf.” The bills went nowhere, but Rehberg, who was gearing up to challenge Democrat Jon Tester for his U.S. Senate seat in 2012, had sparked a kind of arms race of anti-wolf rhetoric. The Republican governor of Idaho, Butch Otter, announced that he was ordering his state wildlife managers to “relinquish their duty to arrest poachers,” thereby freeing up Idaho hunters to continue shooting wolves. Otter also signed an emergency law that authorized him to declare a statewide “wolf disaster.” Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah unsuccessfully attempted to amend the Endangered Species Act so that it no longer applied to “any gray wolf.” Montana Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat, weighed in with the Delisting Gray Wolves to Restore State Management Act of 2011, which died in committee. Tester floated his own wolf-delisting bill; it also went nowhere. 


“Democrats have never in the entire history of the ESA let bills like this go through,” says Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “In the past, no matter how aggressive the Republicans have been about undermining the ESA, we have been able to rely on Democrats to put up an aggressive fight, threaten to veto legislation, and wage a public campaign to defend the ESA.”

Then, almost overnight, the Democratic position changed. According to multiple sources, Salazar and Tester put together a deal to let delisting go forward in Congress. “Tester convinced the White House that his re-election campaign would be in jeopardy without the delisting,” Suckling says. “We heard this in very high-level conversations with Tester’s people and with Interior.” Salazar, according to sources, argued that he couldn’t get the wolf delisted administratively due to the lawsuits, so Congress needed to take action. (Salazar declined interview requests for this story.)

Tester joined forces with Republican Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson to settle the issue. In lieu of presenting legislation to attack the Endangered Species Act and wolf protections directly, they wrote a legislative rider into the 2011 federal budget bill. It would enact Salazar’s April 2009 delisting rule—the one that Judge Molloy had determined to be illegal under the ESA—and also bar any judicial review of the delisting, putting an end to the lawsuits. In testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, Salazar endorsed the rider, saying, “We support the language crafted and introduced by Senator Tester.” The White House signaled its acquiescence by remaining silent. On April 9, amid tense negotiations over the threat of a government shutdown, the rider—the only one in the budget bill—passed with all but three Democrats in the Senate voting in favor. On April 15, the president signed it. 

Tester declined several requests for interviews. However, a spokesperson said, “Montana’s wolves are a recovered species and must be responsibly managed like all other recovered species. Senator Tester worked hard to reach a bipartisan, science-based solution that brings wolves back under state management and works for Montana.” 

“This wasn’t even about the wolf. It was about keeping Tester in office,” says Denise Boggs, director of the Conservation Congress, a nonprofit grassroots environmental group based in Montana. “Obama and Salazar calculated that they could sacrifice the wolf—and the ESA—in order to keep Tester’s seat in Congress.” 

Never before had a species been delisted as a result of congressional fiat. The rider was barely discussed, much less debated. Only one legislator, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, raised an objection. An open letter to the Senate signed by more than 1,200 concerned biologists, urging legislators to vote against the rider, warned that the “fate of every species on the endangered species list (or any candidate for that list) would then be subject to political interference.” Suckling says that the legislative delisting of the gray wolf “never would have happened if Obama had said, ‘No, I’m not gonna sign it.’ The real surprise here is the remarkable and unprecedented betrayal of the Endangered Species Act by a Democratic president.”


Senator Tester and Congressman Simpson had been lobbied by what at first glance appeared to be a wide-ranging anti-wolf coalition. It included various sportsmen’s groups; the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which views the proliferation of wolves as a threat to elk hunting; and the National Rifle Association, which sees in the continued protection of the wolf a backhanded slap at gun culture. But ranching and livestock associations dominated the anti-wolf lobby. Out of 47 groups listed by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as “calling for Congress [to] stop the manipulating use of the Endangered Species Act to tie up wolf delisting in the courts,” 37 represented branches of the livestock industry. Not least among them was the powerful National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which represents the $44 billion cattle-production industry, and its affiliated lobby group, the Public Lands Council, whose stated mission is “preserving the natural resources and unique heritage of the West.” The association named the delisting of wolves as its No. 2 priority for 2011; its first priority was to deflect lawsuits over grazing rights on public lands. Tester has been the Senate’s top recipient of livestock lobby money during the 2012 election cycle. The Cattlemen’s Beef Association ranks fourth among contributors to Simpson over the past year. 

The livestock industry wields astonishing power over federal land-use policy in the West, and the industry’s concern over the fate of the wolf was a proxy fight over who would control the land. According to the Western Watersheds Project, an Idaho-based nonprofit that monitors the livestock industry, an estimated $2 billion to $3 billion is spent each year in state, federal, and county subsidies to support the survival of ranching on more than 250 million acres of land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. For the benefit of public-lands ranchers, the federal government clears forest, plants grass, replaces native vegetation with genetically modified exotic flora, builds roads and cattle guards and fences, dredges springs and seeps, diverts streams, blows up beaver dams, “improves” habitat by bulldozing and crop-dusting, and monitors the health of livestock. Department of Interior economist Robert Nelson, analyzing government aid to public-lands ranchers in the 1990s, referred to it as “a pocket of socialism.” 

“It’s almost a matter of religiosity that the real costs of ranching are paid for by the public,” says Brian Ertz, media director with the Western Watersheds Project. “Democratic and Republican congresspersons alike make their way up through political environments of extreme livestock--culture-dominated political organizations. The statehouses are dominated by livestock interests, and that’s where the federal representatives cut their teeth.” Tester, Ertz points out, was a cattleman himself. 

The livestock industry’s power extends far enough that it has secured its own federally funded wolf-killing unit, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) called Wildlife Services. Largely unknown to the public, Wildlife Services began in 1931 as the Branch of Predator and Rodent Control. It changed its name to Animal Damage Control in 1974 and took its current name in the 1990s. Its chief mandate in the Rockies is the killing of predators—cougars, coyotes, wolves—through trapping, snaring, hunting, aerial gunning, and dispersing poisons across public lands. Last year, the agency spent more than $1.1 million on wolf control in five mountain states. Ranchers assert that wolves today are plundering livestock in record numbers and that the work of Wildlife Services is indispensable.


Carter Niemeyer worked for Wildlife Services for 26 years. By the end of his tenure in 2000, when he joined the Fish and Wildlife Service to oversee wolf recovery in Idaho—and occasionally shoot “problem” wolves such as the Whitehawks—he had concluded that agents considered themselves “the hired guns of the livestock industry.” The agents live among the ranchers; their children attend the same schools. It’s not surprising that they often adopt the same point of view and, Niemeyer says, regularly inflate the number of wolf depredations. 

“Most of the trappers I knew did their investigations with the tips of their boots,” Niemeyer says. “‘Yep,’ they’d say, ‘looks like a wolf did it.’ It quickly became the fashion to blame wolves for all things dead.” But Niemeyer says that when he conducted his own investigations, skinning the dead livestock, knifing through the summer-heated bloat and the maggots and the stench, looking for how death came to pass, too often he found that the rancher’s claim that a wolf did it was either a lie or a delusion. “I was amazed,” he writes in his memoir, Wolfer, “that conservative, God-fearing rural folks could conjure up such absurd ideas about how a farm animal became dead.” The ranchers whose claims he refused to certify fumed and cursed and threw their Stetsons against the wall. Everywhere the wolf appeared, he was told, livestock were not only under attack but generally declining in quality, because the wolves made the animals anxious and “run off weight.” “Wolves are supposedly costing ranchers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually running the weight off sheep and cattle,” Niemeyer says. “I don’t know where anybody has proved this but anecdotally it sure sounds convincing, don’t it? Bullshit. Document it.”

The ranchers’ assertions are reflected in the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, which relies for its data on what amounts to unverified reports from ranchers and the investigations of Wildlife Services agents. In Idaho during 2010–2011, the Statistics Service reported 2,561 cattle lost to wolf attack. When Fish and Wildlife investigated, it found that only 75 of the attacks could be verified. According to the Statistics Service, sheep killed by wolves in 2010–2011 came to 900, but Fish and Wildlife investigators could only verify 148. Even using its own apparently inflated statistics, the USDA found that in 2010, less than a quarter of a percent of U.S. cattle, or 0.23 percent, were lost to predators (the predator list included not just wolves but also coyotes, cougars, bobcats, lynx, bears, and “others”). By contrast, in 2009, Wildlife Services was responsible for killing roughly 12 percent of the total population of wolves in the Northern Rockies.

Idaho’s current management plan calls for the state’s estimated 750 wolves—about half the Northern Rockies population of 1,600—to be reduced to 150 over the course of a six-month hunting season. I asked the Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf-recovery coordinator, Edward Bangs, about the rationale for this number. “The issue has nothing to do with science,” Bangs said. “The issue of how many wolves is enough is totally about what people want and how many wolves people will tolerate.” 

Last October, a hunter named Victor Turchan hiked into a forest of pines in the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho to kill a wolf for the season. Turchan, who is long-haired and lean and craggy-faced, moved over the land as a trained hunter—slowly, listening, looking. He was a bowman by preference, but this day he carried a high-powered rifle. 

Turchan climbed on steep hills where he knew elk liked to gather; where there were elk, there would be wolves on the prowl. He waited. He queried the forest with his electronic caller, which had functions like “calf in distress” and “crow party,” a mimicking of when crows feast on carrion. Any sound that suggested death, weakness, or vulnerability, he said, would bring out the wolves.

The wolf packs in recent years had increasingly harassed the elk in the Bitterroots, thinning the herds, and the business Turchan runs during the summer and fall—a pizza restaurant and RV park near the town of North Fork—depends on the elk for survival. If the wolves kill too many elk, the elk hunters will not find easy prey in the mountains, hurting businesses like Turchan’s. 

Turchan sighted no wolves that day and got no kill. But he had been doing his best to inspire others to take up the cause. I’d initially stopped at his restaurant because the sign out front caught my attention: “Tag a Wolf,” it said, “Get a Free Pizza.” “It used to be ‘Get a free pitcher of beer’ too, but I couldn’t afford it,” Turchan said as I took a picture of the sign. When I mentioned that I was writing about wolves, he invited me into the restaurant and insisted on opening the kitchen early so I could eat. A middle-aged man and a sharp-dressed woman walked in, and we got to talking about how wolves killed their son’s three dogs—tore one of the dogs pretty much in half. “You sure came to the right place for wolf haters,” the woman told me. Her husband chimed in: “Wolves are very good at what they do, which is stalking and killing.” Turchan’s bartender, a jovial, big-chested fellow named Mike, wore a T-shirt that said “Got wolves? Shoot ’em.” On the wall was a sign that said “Smoke a pack a day,” with a bull’s-eye over a wolf silhouette. Above his head, over the bar, was a stuffed wolf mounted in mid-snarl, and next to the bull’s-eye silhouette were trophy photographs of dead wolves held high by men in camouflage. The bodies of the animals hung limp and heavy in the arms of the hunters. Their heads looked almost twice as big as a man’s.

Turchan directed me to an essay called “Why They Love Predators,” written by a retired Fish and Wildlife Service agent named Jim Beers. Beers had repudiated his old employer—he had worked for Fish and Wildlife for 34 years, as a wetlands biologist and then as a special agent enforcing the Endangered Species Act—and had become a hero in the anti-wolf community in Idaho, where groups like the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition have taken to denouncing wolves as “government-sponsored terrorists.” 

When I called him at his home in Minnesota, Beers told me that the wolf was not in fact endangered. “They’re all over Asia. They’re ubiquitous in Alaska and Canada. The idea that they’re endangered is bullshit.” The reintroduced wolf in the U.S., said Beers, was “an insidious thing, a genie out of the bag.” I asked him if wolves weren’t being demonized in the manner that historically has been their lot: the wolf cast as the devil’s minion, as a friend to witches, as symbol of man’s bestial nature, as the enemy of civilization itself. Beers raised his voice. “Why do you think people came to those conclusions? Was it all fable? Why did the Irish breed wolfhounds specifically to kill wolves? Why did their dogs wear spiked collars? You think all these people over all these centuries saying the same thing about wolves were all dumb superstitious ignoramuses?”


Wolf reintroduction, according to the wolf haters, was undemocratic, a top-down measure forced on the mountain states against the public interest. Yet, according to Ed Bangs, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf-recovery coordinator, the congressionally mandated environmental impact statement on wolf reintroduction drew more public attention and response than any proposed action in the history of the service. 

The anti-wolf people say the reintroduced wolves from Canada are bigger, more bloodthirsty, more dangerous, and that the wolves in the U.S. prior to extirpation in the 1930s were meek and easily dispatched. They say the “new wolves” are foreigners, an invasive species. These new wolves kill for sport, as Victor Turchan had explained to me. “Sport-killing? It’s just endless bullshit,” Carter Niemeyer says. “These are people talking through their hats. And if the wolves that were here were so gentle and sweet, less wild and smaller, why did we kill them all by the 1930s?” 

It is said that these wilder wolves have put dozens of hunting guides and outfitters and restaurateurs like Turchan out of business by decimating elk. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks reports that “elk numbers in some areas have declined, due in part to wolf predation. Yet in other areas where wolves and elk interact, elk numbers are stable or increasing.” According to the Endangered Species Coalition, total elk population in the Northern Rockies has in fact risen since wolves were restored—from 312,000 to 371,000, a 19 percent increase since 1994. 

What the elk-hunting industry wants, says Niemeyer, who shoots an elk every year for the meat, is hunting that requires no effort and little skill, a kind of vanity hunting. When wolves were reintroduced, elk adapted. The herds, once loose and relaxed, became tightly packed and watchful. They fled from open range and spent more time in the cover of the woods. Today, they’re more difficult to hunt. They are smarter—the species, in other words, has improved. 


In Yellowstone National Park, biologist William Ripple, a professor at the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, has found that when there were no wolves, elk ran amok. They overgrazed the banks of streams, and they ate away the sprouts of aspen trees, resulting in stunted aspen groves. After roughly 15 years of wolves on the move in Yellowstone, the aspens are taller and healthier, and the willows on the stream banks recovered. When the willows recovered, they shaded the water, which cooled, and in the cooling water the trout returned. The willows and aspens were food and building materials for the beaver,* which dammed the waters and built ponds. Songbirds returned to the ponds, and so did frogs. 

“Yellowstone increasingly looks like a different place, for the first time in 70 years,” Ripple says. “The signs are very encouraging.” Ripple compares this remarkable restoration in Yellowstone with four other national parks where no wolves were present. “In these parks, the loss of large predators allowed large herbivores”—cattle, sheep, elk—“to heavily impact riparian plant communities, thus leading to a loss of biodiversity.” Only in Yellowstone, with its healthy wolf population, does Ripple find “ecosystem restoration.” A study Ripple co-authored last year in Science magazine concluded that “the decline of large predators” in all regions of the world “is causing substantial changes to Earth’s terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems.” The loss of “apex consumers” from ecosystems, says the report, “may be humankind’s most pervasive influence on nature.” 

“We now have overwhelming evidence that large predators are hugely important in the function of nature, from deep oceans to high mountains, from the tropics to the Arctic,” Ripple told me. “Large predators typically keep their prey populations in check and this process provides an important ecosystem service. When we kill off predators, prey populations can erupt, causing declines in the function of ecosystems and potentially, a decrease in biodiversity.”

Ranching, by contrast, is considered one of the top causes of desertification, deforestation, and species extinction in the American West. An estimated 80 percent of the streams and riparian ecosystems in the West have been damaged by livestock grazing. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports that livestock production in the U.S. is responsible for 55 percent of all erosion and one-third of the loads of nitrogen and phosphorus in freshwater systems. The Journal of Arid Environments published a study in 1998 that found that a hundred years of livestock grazing on public lands near the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico was more damaging for the long-term development and recovery of flora than multiple nuclear-bomb blasts. In its 2006 study of the worldwide environmental damage from livestock production, the Food and Agriculture Organization concluded that “the livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity.” 


Last October, I went out into the mountains near Ketchum, Idaho, to look for a black female wolf known as B-412. Radio-collared by Fish and Wildlife in 2008, she had been targeted for killing by Wildlife Services. My guide was a wolf activist named Natalie Ertz (Brian Ertz’s sister), who was able to track B-412 on a radio she had rigged in her truck. Ertz told me that B-412 was easily recognized because she’s “a bit of a cripple.” Years ago, she had gotten her foot caught in a coyote trap, lost two toes, and developed a limp. She had also lost six of her pups in the Soldier Mountains, 40 miles west of Ketchum, where she had been an alpha in the Soldier Mountain pack. The pups had perhaps died of disease, or perhaps a poacher had killed them. After the loss of her pups, she abandoned the Soldier Mountains and headed east toward Ketchum, into the hills near the Little Wood River, near Bell Mountain, where she met a black male, a yearling. He was shot by a Wildlife Services trapper. B-412 was also targeted with the same control order, but she was able to escape, on Bell Mountain, where she ended up with a gray male. They had pups together and soon had formed the Bell Mountain pack, which Ertz had watched in the summertime among the cottonwoods and aspens on the Little Wood River. The pack liked the cool, the shade, the green light of the trees. They would get in the water and roll around and relax. 

Ertz and I drove for two hours, listening for the sound of B-412’s signal. There was no sign of her. 

I still wanted to see a wolf in the wild, so a few days later I telephoned a 63-year-old woman named Lynne Stone, head of a nonprofit wolf-advocacy group in Ketchum, the Boulder-White Clouds Council. Stone told me to meet her by the side of the road in the Big Wood River Valley just before dusk, 20 miles north of Ketchum, and we would go howling. 

We got in her truck and clanged on a rutted dirt path along a ridge on the shanks of the Boulder Mountains. Stone had been tracking the packs in the hills for more than a decade. She had “practically lived with them.” She had watched them pair up and become alphas and have pups, had watched them play and hunt, had heard them howl and had answered. She had given them names like Mary Magdalene and Angel and Papa Wolf, who was old and gray and grumpy. Several of the alpha males and females in the area packs had been killed in recent months, and the survivors, she said, had gone into a kind of mourning. 

“I grew up as a hunter, on a wheat ranch in eastern Oregon,” Stone told me. “I grew up riding horses and wearing a cow-girl hat and going to rodeos. I raised sheep as a girl. I grazed sheep, I sheared sheep. And now I look at the people who hate wolves: They all have cowboy hats, and they’re all sitting on horses. And I ask, why do they want to kill so bad? The anti-wolf thing has brought out the most violent rhetoric I’ve ever seen, the most rabid people.” 

She told me about e-mails and phone calls from hunters who promised her they would skin and burn wolves, not merely shoot them; who sent photos of dead wolves to taunt her; who posted on the Internet photos of coyotes crucified on fence posts and coyote fetuses arranged to form numbers in the snow; who sold frozen coyote pups on the Internet; who purposely gut-shot wolves with a .22. “And that way the wolf dies a slow, horrible, painful death,” Stone said. “That way it could take a month to die.”

She scanned the valley. Dusk had come. It was the time when wolves will appear in the open and talk. Stone said nothing for a moment and prepared herself. She planted her feet square on the earth, tapped her left foot twice, seemed for a moment to do a dance, huffed like a bear, drew a great breath into her burly chest, and lowered her head as if she would fall forward. Then she faced the sky and the evening clouds, and she sang out. The howl was mellifluous and full of longing and also sad. We waited, but there was no answer. 

“It used to be I could come up on this ridge and see wolves, hear wolves, almost any time,” she said. 

When it was full dark, we gave up. A few weeks later, I got an e-mail from Stone. I had asked her to keep me apprised of the fate of B-412. The wolf, which had survived aerial gunnings and the death of her mate and the deaths of six pups and the end of her pack, was killed by a hunter in the last week of November, near the Little Wood River.

Support for this article was provided by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute and the Puffin Foundation.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that trout were food for beavers. Beavers are strictly vegetarian. 


It is very apparent to me that fear is winning out all over this "mighty" nation of ours. I lived in Montana for two years and I got to experience the prevalent attitudes and bravado many of these "wild and free country" folks are so very proud of. They are to me a prime example of contradiction. They dislike outsiders to the point of hate, but even indigenous people are not welcomed. I am an indigenous person so I would know. I left Montana in sorrow because I love the majestic beautiful Big Sky country, but its inhabitants were simply hostile to my presence there. That was more than a decade ago and in retrospect I can see now that all of us will try and run away from anything that will remind us of our failures and/or shortcomings. In the case of the wolf, these men are merely falling back to the days of old when they resolved misunderstandings, unknowns, and disputes with bullets. They're running away from failure as they execute a sort of preemptive strike against the scary bad wolf who had been extinguished from its ancestral lands, and -with much needed assistance- slowly reappearing before these "God fearing men". They will never fully comprehend the majestic beauty I was so sorry to leave behind, until they accept the highest truth this land once displayed to all of us, and which many of us choose to ignore in pursuit of artificial riches. Modern day politics drenched in fear will continue to be detrimental to true understanding of ourselves and all that we have failed to comprehend since the creation of this country. I cry when I hear those -oh so misinterpreted by too many of us- closing lyrics in the national anthem: "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

Killing Wolves Eliminates Barrier That Protects Our Food and Water

When attempting to manage wolf populations today, we must admit that the threat of prion contamination in our watersheds and food chain now poses a much greater risk to several industries, human health, and homeland security than our god-given wolves ever did. In fact, predators are one of nature’s few defense barriers against the deadly spread of prion disease.

Prions are a form of deadly protein that builds up in the cells and bodily fluids of people and animals afflicted with various forms of prion disease, including mad cow disease, chronic wasting disease, scrapie, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Prions now are such a formidable threat that the United States government enacted the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 to halt research on infectious prions in the United States in all but two laboratories. Now, infectious prions are classified as select agents that require special security clearance for lab research. The intent is to keep prions and other dangerous biological materials away from terrorists who might use them to contaminate, food, water, blood, equipment, and entire facilities.

Dr. Stanley Prusiner earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for identifying and studying deadly prions. President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the growing significance of his discovery.

We now know that various forms of prion disease are already spreading around the world. Prion disease has been found in livestock and a variety of wildlife species across the U.S. and Canada (in gray wolf habitat). Reducing wolves in these areas below natural numbers will open the door even wider to the deadly spread of prion contamination in the environment.

The prion pathogen spreads through urine, feces, saliva, blood, milk, soil, and the tissue of infected animals (not to mention soil and water). With those attributes, prions obviously can migrate through surface water runoff and settle in groundwater, lakes, oceans, and water reservoirs. There is not a known cure for prion disease and allowing sick animals to wander the wild unchecked by wolves will further contaminate entire watersheds – increasing the pathway to humans, livestock, and wildlife downstream.

If prions must be regulated in a laboratory environment today, the outdoor environment should be managed accordingly. Wolves and other predators represent one of the few natural barriers to help minimize the spread of prions in the environment and within our food chain. Accelerating the killing of wolves and other predators for profit and pleasure is a foolish experiment in prion management and a reckless platform for safeguarding wildlife, watersheds, and homeland security. In fact, the National Park Service studied the issue and concluded that “as CWD distribution and wolf range overlap in the future, wolf predation may suppress disease emergence or limit prevalence.” (The Role of Predation in Disease Control: A Comparison of Selective and Nonselective Removal on Prion disease Dynamics in Deer.)

Now, more than ever, wolves are part of a healthy ecosystem and a healthy future. It’s time to develop a comprehensive prion-management strategy that maximizes safeguards for human health, food, water, and wildlife around the globe. The stakes are too high for fragmented and misguided prion policies. Just ask the Canadian cattlemen what a few prions did to their industry. Ask the U.S. cattle and dairy industries if they want to increase prion pathways in the watersheds that feed our public and private lands. My guess is that a prion in the soil or water doesn't care if it attaches to a cow, sheep, deer, elk, or human. It kills them all with the same efficiency. Dilution of this pathogen is not a solution. Ignoring this pathogen is not a solution because prions migrate, mutate and multiply. Let wolves and other predators do their job in the food chain without human interference. This is no time for people to play god.

As for ranchers' view of and impact on the West, I think Edward Abbey said it well (and remember, he wrote this before wolf re-introduction):

"The rancher strings barbed wire across the range, drills wells and bulldozes stockponds everywhere, drives off the elk and antelope and bighorn sheep, poisons coyotes and prairie dogs, shoots eagle and bear and cougar on sight, supplants the native bluestem and grama grass with tumbleweed, cow shit, cheat grass, snakeweed, anthills, poverty weed, mud and dust and flies--and then leans back and smiles broadly at the Tee Vee cameras and tells us how much he loves the West."

You're article Wolves to the Slaughter is one of the most well written pieces of propaganda on wolves that I've yet to read. One sided, misleading, in many places patently untrue, and with original sources and well told. Bravo. A kind of Fox News for intellectuals.

kon pa is so horribly, laughingly uninformed about the subject. How is it remotely possible to argue that an animal that has been part of the ecosystem for millions of years should not be there now in numbers that are at a balance with the environment. Ranchers have absolutely no business having priority over salamanders and rattlesnakes much less wolves unless one believes some garbage about man's dominion over nature, or some similar b.s.
Abbey had it completely correct and the wolf haters depicted in the article have far less of a right to exist than any other creature indigenous to the west. I suppose kon pa and those haters would like to see the wolf relegated to the same treatment that worked so well for the European conquest of the Indigenous Americans? Extirpate and isolate?
At leat kon pa admits Fox is bogus so he's half right!

I should add, look at some of the sources. Western Watersheds, a rabidly radical anti hunting group that regularly posts updates on the intimate lives of wolves they have named things like Bessy and White Fang.

The Center for Biologic Diversity, the only environmental group I've ever heard of that was convicted in court of lying and paid hundreds of thousands in damages, upheld on appeal. (but Kieren Suckling won't discuss as he said his silence is part of the settlement)

And the sources on the other side? Some guy with a pizza parlor. No quotes from the US Fish and Wildlife Service such as the recent letter from the Director stating what an unmitigated success state management of wolves has been. http://billingsgazette.com/news/opinion/guest/guest-opinion-northern-rockies-wolves-thriving-after-delisting/article_4ee9b122-b46e-5912-8974-d630d5568092.html Nothing from the many eminent wildlife biologists who have asked for delisting a decade ago. Nothing from the Yellowstone National Park.

Today the 9th circuit court of appeals tossed the most recent silly court action of the wolf kissers in the trash can. The US government in their latest 5 year plan on wolves stated their wish to delist across the entire lower 48. When will radical environmental groups call it quits? You know it's always possible for congress to decide they want the wolf eradicated again in the lower 48.

Ed Abbey was a drunk who could write, good example of the outer fringe of environmentalists. There is no balance of nature and that clap trap is no longer taught to University level ecology majors, (for 30 years)


Use Troll bait and you catch a Troll!

1. Dan Ashe (pro se, or because of his boss) is a tool of the welfare ranchers of the region, and he twists the facts into a balloon animal. For example, his claim that the three subpopulations of NRM wolves have exceeded recovery goals for 10 years is a shifting of the goal posts; the original (extremely low-balled) goal was "10 breeding pairs sustained for three consecutive years in a state..." The northwestern Montana subpopulation did not reach this goal until 2007. There's an awful lot of hope, assumptions, and suspension of disbelief in his cheery optimism about sensible management by the states.
2. Ed Bangs was, until recently, the NRM gray wolf recovery team leader for USFWS. He has supported delisting for many years, and he wrote the delisting proposals. He now sees that the states are not managing as wisely as he had hoped they would. You must have missed his quote in the article.
3. As an ecology professor for nearly the 30 year period you reference, "balance of nature" has not been a key buzzword for far longer than that. However, "top-down control" and "trophic cascades" are very much a hot topic of current research, and evidence is mounting that apex predators do indeed exert a profound influence (balance, if you will) on ecosystem structure and function (see Science, 15 July 2011, p. 301-).

In trying to figure out how to diminish the imperial reach of the Cattlemen in the West it is important to keep in mind they do not have grazing "rights" on public lands. They graze by permit and always have been. Public land grazing does so much harm to the land that it is likely there will be no more in the next 30 years. Permittees will have decide if they would rather be bought out sooner for permit retirements or shut down later.

Maybe it's different in other parts of the western US, but the ranchers here in Montana lease sections of public land. The leases are transferable, both within the family across generations and to anyone buying the ranch. They're treated virtually the same as the sections of private land making up the ranch, with the ranchers paying taxes on the value of all the land, and people paying for both the leased land and private land when purchasing a ranch.

As for shutting that system down and taking those leases away, I think you'll find a huge number of the local environmentalists will tell you that's an absolutely horrible idea. Not just from a moral/political standpoint, but because of what happens afterwards.

You have to understand that ranches are often wholly dependent on that leased land to be profitable. When they stop being profitable, when they shut down, you're left with just the private land. And what does that private land look like? Long strips of land, located along rivers/streams for water right claims, now bordering federal/state/BLM land. It's basically prime housing/recreation real estate, with zero agricultural viability.

And so what happens after the ranches are shut down and you're left with all that prime real estate? It gets sold off, and you end up with what you see in places like Paradise Valley and Jackson. The land is subdivided up, locked away behind gates, fenced off into 2 and 20 and 40 acre tracts, then covered in McMansions and riding stables for folks like Cheney and Rumsfeld to buy and vacation at.

However damaging public grazing is, the alternative is worse. And again, local environmentalists understand this and are constantly frustrated at the national organizations inability to grasp it.

To include ranching in the management schemes for the western lands may be politically necessary and practical and that may mean we must cooperate with them. However they, to a large degree, do not cooperate with concepts like compensation for valid losses from predation, alternative herd management to protect from predation, acceptance that predators have an equal "right" to exist on the land,etc. Here in New Mexico the loathing from ranchers and the ranching lobby to the presence of 55 wolves in the entire states of Arizona and New Mexico is profound and hatred is not too strong of a word for it. The wolves are poached and if not then the pressures from the lobby cause the FWS to take out the wolves, almost always lethally. The program is a disaster because of the ranchers and their lobby as our state Department of Game and Fish is too timid to stand up for the greater good while the hate-baiting has gotten us a Tea Party Governor beholden to the ranching lobby and other .
The idea that a "way of life" can take precedent over an environment must be reconsidered and changed. We must have large tracts of land that are not influenced by human activity as much as possible. This isn't just so that we can have wolves and give them cute names but because we are also dependent on fully functioning ecosystems in ways that we have not yet fathomed. Call if self interest or call it conservation for its own sake but the ranching strangle hold on Western Lands policy must be broken. People or groups must be allowed to bid on and purchase grazing or mineral leases and let them be fallow if that is their choice.
The op-ed referred to is by and large a big line of crap and has virtually no credibility when it states things like the wolf having incredible resiliency to withstand the individual states' management programs. It turns my stomach to even give the states the credit of having such programs, as short sighted and not based in science as they are.
Also, I agree that the term, "balance of nature" is passe but nature does balance itself by and large and the presence of top predators is critical. Just look at the riparian areas in Yellowstone that have benefited from the presence of wolves that keep the elk from browsing every new seedling that pops up, thus creating more diverse habitat. that is the "balance" of which I speak.

@Gideon Jones - Public lands ranchers have been able to leverage their leases of public land grazing allotments using escrow waivers to take out loans on associated value of said public land leases. This is not a property right, but it is quite the scam that has made a lot of bankers (and the folk on Wall Street who wrap those loans into crooked investment instruments) happy. I wish I could take out a loan on a public asset - that's quite the economic advantage. Unfortunately, these loans are largely what keep many of the smaller ranchers stuck (and economically pressured to stock the land with greater numbers of sheep or cattle than the land could ever support) in order to make their payments or lose their private holdings too. It's a scam.

Ranchers do not pay taxes on their public land leases - in fact, historically this very fact has been a significant factor in why efforts to privatize public lands have failed. Livestock industry groups (and their lobbyists) often sing about the virtues of privatization, but withhold political effort (and resist such efforts) at the 11th hour recognizing that they can graze public lands far cheaper when they are in public hands because the property tax burden would be more of an economic burden than the pittance they pay in grazing fees and the costs of the administration/management of their grazing use covered by the tax-payer. Welfare ranchers do pay a nominal fee for use of the public land ($1.35/Animal Unit Month - dry-weight forage) which is ridiculously below market value (market is at anywhere between $8-22/AUM depending on where you're at) that ranchers pay for lease of comparable private lands and which fails to even cover the tax-payers' cost of administering the grazing program (around $7-8/AUM according to the GAO in 2005) - which is to say nothing of the externality costs administered via other programs (but to the almost exclusive benefit of public land ranchers) as mentioned in the article. The public pays to develop water for cattle, blade roads for access, weed abatement, predator eradication, etc. etc. etc. Why would anyone want to be responsible for that when the tax-payer is covering those costs as it stands ?

That said, "local" environmentalists who shill the 'Cows vs. Condos' argument are misguided. The argument is ridiculous in ecological, economic, and political terms and is often a consequence of "local" environmentalists' interest and involvement in Gang Green real estate laundering schemes - usually under the auspice of the lucrative practice of slinging bogus private land conservation easements. These real estate (and water-right) schemes have become quite the industry, especially when done under the 'green' banner. The Nature Conservancy is among the best known for this and has been publicly scrutinized. Lesser know and "localized" land trusts represent localized specialties in the scams.

First, ecologically the damage that livestock do to the landscape is incomparably greater than real estate development and usually easements are slung whether there exists any real development pressure. Any public lands at issue are never going to be developed for real estate (but they ARE developed for livestock production via well drilling, water infrastructure including piping & tanks, fencing, etc. etc. etc.), and the associated private lands at issue are already degraded - habitats removed - by agricultural development - to facilitate those livestock. It is an outright LIE to suggest that "open landscapes" or whatever the nonsensical phraseology "local" green groups shill is anywhere near providing for the real conservation benefit on those private lands that could exist on public lands should livestock impact be removed. A monoculture of wheat, corn, or alfalfa in the arid west is not contributing to the ecological integrity or biological diversity of the landscape - it's degrading it both by removing indigenous complex habitats that a myriad of species once relied upon as well as by removing and polluting a HUGE amount of water (that stuff all life is dependent upon in the desert) at a vastly greater magnitude than real estate development ever would or could. Public lands have the potential to harbor those complex habitats - unfortunately, those habitats are being degraded and simplified by livestock on a huge scale. Also, it takes and wastes A LOT of water to cultivate cattle food in the desert. A vast majority of species in the arid west depend upon that water and associated riparian habitats for survival.

Additionally, economically

If you're really concerned with real estate, then the place to do something about it is at the county level on Planning and Zoning - not by jamming more and more and more subsidies into the pockets of Barrick Gold and Simplot Inc. whose rape of the western public landscape is ubiquitous.

I'm not looking for "more and more subsidies", I think the system is fine as it stands. And the alternative you're putting forward is just not workable. There is no possible way you're going to get rural western counties, completely dominated by right wingers to adopt zoning regulations that prevent the development of subdivisions and recreational properties in ranchland that's been rendered worthless. Especially when the development of those properties means massive financial windfalls for both local government and local officials.

Also, talking about "monocultures of wheat, corn, and alfalfa", the "arid" West, and pipelines and stocktanks is a pretty good indication that you don't understand the conditions in the Greater Yellowstone area where the wolf reintroduction was centered, and where this discussion is primarily taking place. That's simply not what ranching looks like here.

This is exactly my point about the 'Cows vs Condos' myth, county commissions won't zone away real estate development given the potential economic windfalls, how on earth would keeping ranchers' operations 'viable' (which is a bastardization of that word when you consider the extreme subsidies necessary) prevent that same economic incentive from taking effect on purchasing property ? It hasn't, it doesn't, it won't. This is even more poignantly true when you consider whether or not the grandkids really want to deal with ranching when they inherit the spread. It's a bogus argument.

As to your point about the Yellowstone area, where the conversation is alleged to be primarily taking place. I'm not sure what you mean by 'Yellowstone', but Northern Rockies wolf country extends a great deal beyond the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Even so, the development of Livestock infrastructure as I characterized it begins as soon as you step outside of Yellowstone National Park. The Gallatin National Forest hosts stock tanks, pipe, fence, roads (including culverts which cut the hell out of streams depositing fish killing sediment, altering channels, lowering water tables etc.) and a myriad of other Livestock infrastructure that would not be present in the absence of public lands ranching. That all costs the taxpayer to build and maintain. But more importantly it fundamentally alters and denudes the habitat and wildlife potential that exists in this miraculous place. The same is true for other Forests and BLM districts surrounding Yellowstone NP and extending all the way to the Cascades, the Huachucas and Chiricahuas of SE Arizona, and stretching for 250 million acres and beyond across the western landscape.

Don't understand the landscape ? Point me to an allotment in the GYE that doesn't harbor these infrastructure that I speak of. Even on the Cache-Eldridge, Wapiti, Willow Creek and a variety of other allotments retired from livestock grazing by buyout for wildlife conflicts on the Gallatin & Bridger-Teton Forests the associated infrastructure remains.

Whether you're talking high alpine, sage steppe, or Mojave & Sonoran desert, Livestock and it's associated infrastructure have fundamentally denuded the character of the landscape and diminished the biological communities that once called these public lands home. There is no greater human impact in the West.

p.s. vegetation manipulations to benifit Livestock are widespread on GYE public landscapes as well, one example would be the Antelope Basin/Elk Lake area of Madison Valley where over 50 square miles of open, mountain sagebrush grassland habitat had been subject to aggressive habitat manipulation - herbicide eradication of sagebrush and forbs, multiple prescribed burnings, etc. All to provide more forage for livestock.

This story is ubiquitous across the western landscape, GYE and beyond.

"There is no balance of nature and that clap trap is no longer taught to University level ecology majors, (for 30 years) ahoooo!"
kon pa: your overall comments do support this last one here. So I suppose if something isn't taught in school it doesn't exist? There is no balance of nature according to folks like you, and evolution does not exist because you yourself cannot evolve as far as I am concerned. But wait, I do believe in evolving into something better, wiser, and greater than I am now. The fact that you want to remove yourself from the natural cycle of this earth by asserting your selfish impulses, tells me that you are still part of nature but refuse to evolve. History has taught us that folks like you end up over doing their "mighty right" to "control" nature, and have to move on eventually or perish. But you will not perish will you? You will just move on to the next patch of land to take what is "yours", damn whoever or whatever gets in your way. You deny nature's balance, but a virus is still part of nature and so are you. Nature deals with all that is thrown at her one way or another. Here's hoping your descendants learn from someone else and evolve.

Christopher Ketcham article, is another one sided Manhatten view of reality. I remember when my son was 7 and his teacher made the whole class write, letters complaining to the Gov. of Alaska, about wolf hunting, after she had read an an article in a magazine. I wonder if Christopher Ketcham was in the class too, learning a different kind of bias. Clearly in his "objective" article, he sides with Stone and doesn't even consider the emotionalism he projects into the article. Thanks for clearifing the issue Chris. Now go have a latte. Feel good , buddy.
By the way, she doesn't hear the wolves any more, because they moved to where the food is.

Regarding the cows vs. condos argument, I'm not entirely convinced that a suburb is worse wildlife habitat than a ranch. I used to live in Montana, and only saw prairie dogs in an isolated park area, where shooting them wasn't allowed. Here in the Denver suburb where I currently live, we have prairie dog towns in practically all the vacant lots. Why? Well, probably because we don't have ranchers around here to shoot and poison them. Just a few days ago, I met a coyote (another favorite target of ranchers) crossing the street. A month or so ago, there was a deer grazing behind my church, and some friends saw a fox run through their back yard. Wildlife can deal with houses, businesses, golf courses, and parks. Is it a challenge for them? Maybe, but I doubt it's more of a challenge than dealing with a ranching community that views them as pests and wants their blood. That's not to say that large tracts of undeveloped land aren't important, but I don't like seeing this rationale used as an excuse to keep ranchers in business.

There are some 55 billion livestock being readied to be deadstock on this planet. We have been warned by the larger scientific community repeatedly over the past three decades that human overpopulation and its horrific cruel habits are destroying life on earth, mercilessly farming both farm and wildlife for killing to the maximum, killing and acidifying the oceans, draining our aquifers, and destroying the climate to the point that human and all life may not be sustainable by the end of the century - or sustained in a completely changed climate of biosystem catastrophe including billions of misplaced people, fighting wars over water and food, and eating the rest of the biosystem into oblivion.

So - since animal agriculture is as much as 51% of rapidly accelerating climate change, part of the solution to ranching on public lands and water depletion, loss of species, and the farmer/hunter/trapper/hounder coalition (with NRA support) is moving the addicted, obese, and heart - disease bedeviled masses to a plant based diverse diet as rapidly as possible. Vegan options are being developed to the point that meat "lovers" will have their taste and health too. And the planet will heave a huge sigh of relief. The human-caused suffering of wildlife to create farm animal suffering DIES and humans evolve to more healthy habits.

I think it was Mark Twain who said that habit is really the worst evil, because given new information, people find it so difficult to change. But change we must. And the confluence of crisis of energy pollution, degradation and threats to food supplies, human overpopulation destroying and fragmenting habitat for all other species, water scarcity and pollution, and climate change in both world economies and the atmosphere - are calling for people to transform NOW.

Stop being cruel. All the world needs is LOVE LOVE LOVE. Real love - not the romantic farce - the appreciation of the miracle of life and respect for all of it. Awe and reverence and a little child shall lead them ( and I do not mean in a religious sense ). Go back to your true innocent self and love our world and the miraculous beings still here to keep us company in this fragile mortal experience. I know of NO animal that given love does not respond in kind...that not afraid, will not return love. Unless starving or maybe some insects I have known and saved.

We analyized that only a few moments along with I cannot understand it outside of my personal scalp -- great job!
Warminster Locksmith - Keny's Locksmiths

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