In Praise of Wolves
Regarding "Living With Wolves" [November-December 2000]: About 12 Americans are killed each year by dogs, and an additional 4.7 million are bitten yearly. There is not one verified incident of a wild wolf killing a human, most of whom will never see a wolf in the wild in their lifetime. If wolves killed a dozen people a year, they would be slaughtered into extinction, as was attempted in the West in the 19th century so that cattle could invade wild-animal habitat. The government of the Yukon Territory reportedly spent more than $200,000 from 1996 to 1998 to kill 65 wolves to help caribou and moose populations grow. Cattle ranchers in the western United States are reimbursed when calves are killed by wolves. Isn't that enough? How much is a calf worth in a nation with millions in feedlots? Let's not emulate Bill Paul of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services (who kills wolves just because he's allowed to). Tracking wolves and shooting them is outrageous, regardless of their crime--which basically is to survive.
Robert S. Corya
Ted Williams replies: Mr. Corya is incorrect. Wolves have killed people in India, and I expect they'll soon kill a few in America, because they are fast losing their fear of humans and spreading into populated areas. The work of Wildlife Services, however, is important, less for public safety than for the long-term well-being of wolves. Livestock predation is extremely dangerous for wolves. Moreover, wolves that acquire a taste for beef and mutton teach their pups to kill livestock. The alternative to Wildlife Services is vigilante warfare against all wolves.
Just Say No
In "A Habitat Held Hostage" [November-December 2000], Kirk Semple tells a story of four gringo birdwatchers who were kidnapped by guerrillas. The moral of the story is that U.S. military meddling was the indirect cause of the incident. Interference in Colombian affairs in the guise of help in the war on drugs has not helped. It has merely pushed illegal drug growing into pristine, less accessible parts of that exquisite environment. Stopping drugs in the United States should be accomplished by interdicting their entry and by supporting the rehabilitation of addicts. Multinational corporations persist in investing in Colombia, despite the guerrilla threat, thanks to U.S. military aid! Who does Colombia belong to--the people who live there? Or greedy multinationals?
Thank you for illustrating a major threat to the southern Appalachian Mountains in "Highway Through Heaven" [November-December 2000]. However, I feel that your attempt to stir the reader's passions by mentioning wildlife that is affected by the construction is weakened by the inclusion of the exotic rainbow trout. Rainbow trout are not native to the eastern portion of the United States and have been outcompeting native brook trout in many eastern habitats where they have been introduced.
Mark W. Rogers
How absolutely amazing to learn that the bar-headed goose is the highest-altitude migrant [Birds, "The High Life," November-December 2000]. To be able to fly over the Himalayas without any difficulty makes a person sit in awe of the marvelous feats of nature. There is much to learn from nature, and this is a fine example. Scientists are now studying the flight maneuvers of dragonflies to help them understand aerodynamics. The bar-headed geese are definitely super birds!
Andrews Somprise Soyo
He's a Good Boy
Despite having been an environmentalist and a Sex Pistols fan for more than 20 years, I was surprised to see John "Johnny Rotten" Lydon in the pages of Audubon [Field Notes, "Johnny Rotten, Tree Hugger," November-December]. Lydon has always been an astute social critic. When he sang "no future" in the late 1970s, he did not mean that the world had no future, as Chris Chang reports, but that the policies of the conservative British government offered no future. The view of Lydon as nihilist, obscene, irresponsible, etc., was largely a distortion by the conservative press to discredit the powerful message of social discontent that he delivered. Like the environmentalist/conservationist, he was an underdog struggling to deliver a message in the face of formidable opposition.
Chris Chang replies: I appreciate Mr. Wood's close reading of the Sex Pistols' lyrics. Furthermore, I find beauty in the irony that an aging punk rocker can remind us that anarchy and nature are closely related.
© 2001 NASI
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