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Idaho's wolf issue could soon become Washington's

Of Cabbages and Kings


Last updated 4/24/2014 at 11:45am

Many years ago, when buffalo roamed the western United States, Native Americans made excellent use of this amazing animal. There were no government officials to patrol the land. If a buffalo, a bear or a wolf became a menace, the natives took care of the problem immediately.

Over the years our culture has changed drastically and many times we, neighbors, friends and strangers have found each other defending opposite positions. Some, speaking seriously, say the wolf is beautiful, loving and peaceful. Those of us who have known what a wolf can do, have a different perspective.

When a cattleman sees his young calf trying desperately to stand as his ripped, bleeding intestines hang between his feet, it is rather hard to think of “peaceful and loving.” Then the government says, “We will reimburse you for your loss of the calf.”

The cattleman must swallow the words that come to mind. The government official does not speak of future losses. What will the wolves attack next? His prize horse? His loyal sheep dog? There is no mention of the true cost of his loss.

Jim Hayden, regional manager with Idaho Fish and Game has said, “No other creature provokes as much passion or incites as much controversy. I’ve never met a more polarizing issue in my entire career than the wolf.”

We can all agree on a couple of things: Gray wolves are returning in droves. Wolves are highly intelligent. Susan Stone is a Rocky Mountain and Northwest Field representative with Defenders of Wildlife. She insists, “Returning wolves make many important contributions to Idaho habitats.” A person could say yes to that by agreeing when wolves kill deer and elk, they are keeping them from overgrazing the pastures.

Tony McDermott is the Panhandle Region commissioner for Idaho Fish and Game. He said, “Environmental groups have hijacked the Endangered Species Act and repeatedly sued to delay wolf hunting, allowing the population to grow unchecked.” Something tells me these environmentalists don’t live near the area they’re so interested in.

Scott Rockholm, a Sandpoint sportsman, remembers a filming mission a few years ago. He was in the wilderness, beginning a recording of the scene. He said, “I noticed shadows flitting between the trees.” He found himself surrounded by eight wolves. He fired several shots from his gun and climbed out of the valley where he was situated. He said, “All I could think of was getting in my truck and getting out of there as fast as I could.”

Idaho is just a couple jumps from Eastern Washington. The wolves know the way. I ask you to remember a movie years ago about a little girl whose parents were killed by bear. A female wolf adopted her and took care of her. The little girl became a beautiful woman. She met a handsome man. They married and lived happily ever after.

Okay. We’ll grant you that. From here on out, the story credit is mine: The husband sometimes awoke in the night. He heard wolves howling in the distance. He also heard his wife, sitting on the patio, howling in tempo with the wolves. Breakfast was a little testy some days. The wife would often lap her morning coffee off the kitchen floor instead of using a cup. There you are. Can’t win ‘em all, folks.

The quotes are from the June 19, 2013 story “Man vs. Wolf” by Inlander reporter Jacob Jones.

Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at


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