Alibi V.25 No.17 • April 28-May 4, 2016 

Letters

On “Species Wars”

Dear Alibi,

Renee's irony is so strong in her "Species Wars" article that it may be taken for her opinion.

The true and probable poaching statistics that have held the Mexican wolf population down in spite of USFWS recovery efforts would have been a nice addition to the article. Thanks for the article, but the irony needs to be more clearly set off from the science and facts of wolf predation, sociality and their necessity in intact ecosystems.

Continuing:

Classical liberalism is the social theory of John Locke and others who prized the idea of real estate as personal property. Both modern terms, "liberal" and "conservative" have changed in colloquial meaning. Whereas once conservative meant monarchic, property belonging to kings, regents or feudal lords, now it means unbridled liberal ideals of near-government-absent private property.

Therein lies the root of the utilitarian beliefs of present ranchers and hunters who wish the states to manage wild ungulates solely for human hunting/consumption (not at all conservative that, eh?).

Historically following the intentional and unregulated killing of the 60 million bison, the millions of elk and pronghorn of the Missouri valley, we find that British and other speculators saw the massive empty plains left behind. Since they were not US citizens/subjects, they created and hugely profited from their invented cattle industry (in the process turning Britain into the beefeaters they became, but delve into the history for this), hiring "cowboys" as near-slave labor. They wanted no federal interference. The Western states and counties where cattle are raised are the direct heritors of this cultural belief.

Wolves were targeted since Lewis and Clarke's expedition irritatedly shot them for the crime of chewing on the horse tack. "Wolfers" poisoned wolves since the settlers arrived at least by the 1830s, if not before. The bounties had begun by 1630 in Massachusetts; that idea was a European one, immigrating in the minds of Euroamericans.

Strychnine and bounties were Europroducts, and that and other poisons were so laced across the West that hundreds of thousands of predators and mesopredators, and millions of pure scavengers, the cleaners of the Earth (predators like wolves have been shown to sometimes get up to 85% of their diets from carrion rather than direct killing in nature!), were incidentally killed. Birds of most types, from tiny songbirds seeking some fats, etc, died from wolfers, across the last 70 years of the 1800s. These were subsidized by local, county, private, state, governments.

Since I was raised early on with a man born in 1850 or ‘51, I do not regard the present ranching situation and cultural attitudes as anything but a fraudulent takeover and unethical excrescence dating only two lifetimes in length—not a tradition, but an unlawful result of the emergent railroad technology (with refrigerated icebox cars) that allowed that urban-dependent industry to destroy the American West.

The history of Euroamerican persecution of this keystone North American species is long, involved, and so intertwined with near-constant violation of treaties and the establishment of statutes and bounties, that one has to explore the immigration and 19th century market hunting and fur trade economy to get a handle on the destruction and present cultural aberration that the European immigrant culture wrought. The technology leading to ranching economy is really a sine qua non, for instance. From an ecological viewpoint, "progress" is merely a human asteroid striking the continent, causing vast extinction.

The jobs of wildlife conservation agencies are far too politically infested. The clear history is available. One just has to dig a little to find the identity of the cattle barons.

Michael M.

Compliments to Maggie Grimason

Dear Alibi,

I should say that I saved an article that you wrote about Public Education in the No Child Left Behind Era. For me, it's a reminder that I left teaching with my integrity intact, and one that I look toward when feeling any doubts about why I left or what I was there to do. Your poignant writing fortified everything I felt and saw while in the profession. Your recent piece on the Gila River is equally remarkable. Edward Abbey would have been proud. Thank you for doing what you do and taking your craft seriously.

AJ Woods

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