Friday, February 1, 2008

Wolves, a White New England Winter, and Where-did-I-put-my-fleece?

Today is a day of packing, tripping over boxes in the attic, and preparing for a month away from Stuart and Scout. I fly out of Charlotte on Sunday morning for a month in northern Vermont, at the Vermont Studio Center.

I'm still working my brain around fitting all my fleece into one suitcase, and am determined to do so. If you've got any tips, let me know!

For those of you who know me (and pretty much the only folks reading this do), you know that I'm a hopeful environmentalist and nature lover, and I that I feel passionately about the preservation and conservation of American land and animals. I truly believe that "the environment," and caring for it and all its creatures, is not only a political issue, it's a moral one. A religious one. A human one. I think we're all in it together.

Environmental and wildlife groups have been fighting a battle with the Bush administration when it comes to wolves. States like Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Montana--and a very vocal minority in these places--are attempting to ignore the endangered species act, and allow the mass killing of wolves, many via airplanes. They are being shot from the air in large masses, or chased to exhaustion and then shot on the ground, defenseless. Right now, in winter, wolves are moving targets on the snow. No wolf is off limits, not pregnant wolves, and not even pups.

Moose and elk hunters and the wealthy tourists they carry complain that wolves hurt their business, when in fact the elk and moose populations are more populous now than ever. And when it comes to ranchers, what most people don't know is that there are environmental and wildlife groups who will pay for any livestock harmed or killed by wolves. They have been paying. But having to pay is also unlikely, because ranchers--if they even see a wolf in their lifetimes--will most likely have one or two incidents with these animals over the course of a ranching lifetime. Most people live in Alaska their entire lives, and never have the privelege of laying eyes on a wolf.

There are people who feel passionately about both sides of this issue. When I was in Montana, I saw t-shirts with wolf's faces painted on them, with a bull's eye between the eyes. Why are we reverting to believing in the man-hungry wolves of Grimm's fairy tales? Why are we acting in ignorance? Why can't we see past our fenceposts? When did we start to believe that we are above waste, above common sense, above decency? When did we convince ourselves that it's all about us?

I'm a hunting advocate. I have friends and family who hunt and grew up hunting. When did hunting become about using something besides a useful weapon and your own intellect and experience? Aerial gunning, mass killing, and ignoring the law--the Endangered Species Act--are not the actions of true hunters, real hunters, real sportsmen. The people who do this are hacks.

If you're interested, there are many groups working hard on this issue. Call your congressman or woman, tell him or her to sign Bill # 3663, the PAW Act. Check out the PAW Act. Visit,,,, and many other sites.

I've called my congressman, Heath Shuler, twice already. I've never called a political offical in my life, but I truly believe it's worth it.