Gray wolves have finally arrived in California after almost 100 years marking the celebration of, hopefully, a new beginning! In early August, there was a single gray wolf that was spotted and a couple of weeks later, an entire pack complete with pups were caught on a wildlife camera in Northern California just enjoying their day in the wilderness, bringing excitement for animal and nature enthusiast. While this is an exciting return for the wolves, which were once feared to never return to the area and state, the question must arise: will these wolves be allowed to flourish back into nature or will they be stalked and killed off by humans for the “sport” of it?
Federal Government and Lack of Protection?
As this exciting view of gray wolves in California is definitely a moment to be celebrated we must not forget that our federal government, beginning in 2011, decided to start removing the protection for these animals. Obama made the move to begin removing their protection levels throughout the nation, giving individual states permission to decide if the fun of killing a wolf would be permitted within season.
According to Predator Defense Organization, after the government moved to remove gray wolves off the endangered species list in the Spring of 2011 and the protection levels started falling, as of April 2015, over 3,600 wolves have been massacred by man for the “sport.” This number given does not include wolves slaughtered by government programs. Historically, wolves have been considered predators for livestock and systematically “culled” by the National Wildlife Service.
Luckily, in December 2014, a federal judge refused to end protection for the gray wolf; that judge needs a round of applause! Here is the sad part – this protection order, unfortunately, is only for Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Now here we are and the gray wolf looks to be trying to thrive, in areas we were never sure they would return to.
While California’s new legislation presents this opportunity for wolves as well, there is still a bit of opposition that needs to be overcome to ensure they thrive.
Gray Wolves and Safety
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife states that gray wolves pose little direct risk to humans, encourage the use of non-lethal methods to avoid the loss of animals at home, and are protected from hunting within their state. But, there are some in California that worry the gray wolves and protection of them will harm their well-being and homes.
A rancher has spoken out stating he is worried about his animals and the gray wolves attacking them; with the policies in place, he feels he may not be able to protect them. And while this is a valid concern, maybe we should find a way to “meet in the middle.” If someone is to break into your home and threaten the life of you and your family, then you have the right to protect yourself; you do not however have the right to chase a person down and murder in cold blood. Could it be possible we take the same stance with wildlife when need be and protecting ourselves at home?
As these gray wolves look to move back into California after being hunted off in the 1920s, it is our responsibility to not thrash out and begin to abuse nature and wildlife because we are selfish or refuse to think of ways to co-exist. Some people worry about predatory animals that make residence in the wilderness but when you think about it they are at least following Mother Nature’s drive.
Maybe more should be concerned about the predatory mammal Homo Sapiens trying to hurt its own kind and other animals, just for the fun or the sake of it.
Image source: Martin Mecnarowksi/Wikimedia Commons