Yellowstone’s Cottonwood pack is gone
The last time I wrote about the gray wolves, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had upheld the Bush decree removing them from the endangered species list. He spared only those in Wyoming, the ones in Yellowstone. After May 4, 2009, the wolves in Idaho and Montana would once again be legal prey for hunters. I was deeply disappointed, despite thinking the Yellowstone packs were safe and knowing that legal challenges to the hunts were being pursued.
Somehow the bureaucrats thought state lines and park boundaries would protect the wolves. Hunters and ranchers knew better, and all over Idaho and Montana, they began preparing for the fall hunts.
A few days ago, on October 27, the LA Times reported that the southern Montana wolf hunt had been stopped just one day after it started because the quota had already been exceeded. Two days earlier, they reported that despite the protection extended to the Yellowstone wolves, four of the famous Cottonwood pack’s ten wolves, all the breeding adults, were dead. They had strayed into Montana, into a wilderness area bordering the park on the north. The alpha female, known as Wolf 527, and her daughter, Wolf 716, were shot despite the fact they were near the park and wearing radio collars. They were, after all, in Montana. Shooting them there was perfectly legal. Even if it meant the destruction of the pack and an abrupt end to years of ongoing research, study, and data gathering.
Reporter Kim Murphy’s story is long, detailed — and heartbreaking if you care about the wolves. To her credit, she balances her story with comments from hunters and ranchers. How you interpret them is, of course, up to you.
And in closing: Wolf 716 is being mounted for display in the hunting lodge of the “sportsman” who (with his wife’s help) shot her, a man who happens to be a Montana hunting guide. Great publicity, that. I wonder how he’ll spin the story. Will he tell visitors the big black wolf he bagged was one of Yellowstone’s famous Cottonwood pack? Will he tell them she was so used to the presence of humans, she showed no fear and openly approached him? Will he, for the sake of accuracy and realism, leave her radio collar in place?
Please join the Defenders of Wildlife and thousands of others in asking Washington to reconsider their misguided policies and put the wolves back on the endangered species list. You can sign the petition here.
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