On December 28, a 2 1/2 year old male wolf crossed the border into California after a 1,000 mile journey south through Oregon. Wolf OR7, as he is called by Fish and Game, is the first wild wolf in the state in almost 100 years. A young wolf will leave his pack to search for a mate to start a new one in situations like too many wolves competing for game in a certain region.
The new California wolf is a descendant of the 66 Canadian wolves who were relocated to Yellowstone in the mid 90’s. He is one of an estimated 1600 wolves who now roam free in the Rocky Mountain states, in the southwest, and in Oregon.
According Tim Holt, a freelance writer in Dunsmuir, CA, “local ranchers and a few pandering elected officials have him in their cross hairs, saying he ought to be shot on sight.” At the same time, “there are wolf advocates who practically worship this predator, seeing the wolf as symbol and martyr of a vanishing wilderness.”
Holt sees another possibility:
The removal of wolves, or their reintroduction, reverberates up and down the food chain. By culling deer and elk, new wolf populations help restore vegetation along streambeds, improving habitat for songbirds, beavers and river otters. And by going after weak and old members of deer and elk populations, they help strengthen their stock. Wolves, in other words, are instinctive wilderness restoration specialists.
So the wolves’ return to this state offers a litmus test of our commitment to the health of our remaining wildlands. But it goes beyond that. Allowing them to reintroduce themselves would be one more sign that we’re moving away from a human-centered view of nature, based on narrow economic interests, and have begun to see ourselves as a part of what might be called the broader economy of nature. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/29/4221053/wolf-can-help-us-balance-our-approach.html#storylink=cpy
The book, and the movie made of it in 1983, deserve much of the credit for reversing public attitudes toward the wolf, and allowing reintroduction to happen at all.
Gandhi said the character of a nation is revealed in the way it treats its animals. Let’s hope the way we treat OR7 reveals something compassionate, wise, and generous in us.