“BB” on Wolves
I sent an urgent message out to “BB” in hopes that he would be able to meet with me. The previous week I had traveled up to the Hon Dah Casino outside Pinetop to attend the USFWS final public meeting regarding Mexican gray wolves specifically and the proposed delisting of gray wolves across the northern states. “BB” was one source that I really wanted to get input from and time was getting short before final comments would be received by the USFWS. Finally, early in the midst of our first cold front, “BB” sent me a Tine-mail laying out a time and place to meet.
I seldom question “BB” on his proposed meeting places, but this one surprised me. He wanted to meet outside Roosevelt Lake, across from the Tonto Basin and he wanted to do it in the high desert. I knew from previous crossings that the Prius was not going to get me there, so I rolled the Tundra out for one more ride up the hill. I slugged through some really raunchy roads but finally made it to his anointed spot. I turned off the engine and climbed out of the Tundra and began waiting. The stars were visible as there were no clouds overhead and the scenery was breathtaking. There seemed to be millions of stars and not a single human light to ruin the effect. As I waited somewhat impatiently, I heard a chorus of coyotes begin to sound off. As if an imaginary circle had been created, the coyotes began howling, one pack after another and almost in some weird pattern that had them going off sequentially all around me. Finally, it was like a conductor had waved a baton and they all ceased howling. Only then did “BB” make his presence known. “How did you like the singing tonight boy?’”“BB” asked. He had once again startled me from my reverie and he seemed to have a big grin on his mug, knowing I had probably jumped a bit. “Well “BB”, this is certainly one of the more interesting spots you could have chosen for a meeting” I said. “Why here and why now?” I asked. “BB” simply stood and waited patiently. Slowly, he turned his head and said, “I’ve been working my way here for over 2 weeks now. I needed some time to think, I needed some time to try and understand all of you humans. I guess I will never understand all the differences that make humans what they are. I’ve read a lot on the Tine-net lately about all the comments that everyone made about wolves and whether or not they should be here or should not. Does it really matter?” He asked.
I looked at “BB” and said, “Of course it matters “BB”. Why would you say something like that? Don’t you understand how critical all of this is? Do you want hundreds of wolves running all across the Rim country? Do you want hundreds of fawns being killed by packs of wolves and less than fifteen percent surviving each year? What’s going on in your head?” “BB” let me vent and then said, “You must not have been reading all the same stuff I was reading boy. I read hundreds of comments and folks like you were one in a hundred. I noticed all the city people with all these fancy computers were writing hundreds of comments that were glorifying wolves and how family like they were, how they were loyal and patient and all this other crap. Your kind lost this argument over 50 years ago. Walt Disney and Smokey the damn bear put in motion humans giving animals human emotions and that was where the battle was lost.” I stared at “BB” and let his comments sink in. Finally, I nodded and said, “Anthropomorphism right?” “BB” nodded his big shaggy head. “Yep, that anthro thing is what we have going on but even worse than that, city folks have become so separated from reality. Try and think about this for a minute. A hundred years ago every family in Arizona knew what it was like to kill an animal and to have to butcher and quarter it so that you could consume it. Every family worked on the land in some way shape or form. Every person knew the true cycle of life. Then 50 years ago these big supermarkets and chain stores took over. They give you food that is all wrapped up, all cleaned off and ready to start cooking. Probably less than 1% of humans know what it’s like to clean an animal and butcher it. No one sees blood, no one sees the death of an animal. All they see now are fillets, T-bones and Porterhouses. I’ll bet half the city folks couldn’t tell you if vegetables were raised on the ground, in the ground or above ground either. Nope, city folks, the ones with all this money and power and computers and absolutely no knowledge of reality of the life cycle, will determine wildlife’s future. That, my friend, is why I asked if it really even matters. There’s another little thing that you’re missing too boy and you’d better wake up. This isn’t about healthy ecosystem crap or any of that other garbage. This is about a bunch of hypocrites slapping you hunters and conservationists like a red-headed step child. The folks leading this parade hate hunters. They know that Arizona folks have a strong hunting heritage and want to be out in the field as much as possible. You my friend, have become their prey. They have hunted you and boxed you into a nice little corner. They did it with slick politics, money and a liberal government that closed their eyes to all the b.s. that was going on.” “BB’ had me on the last one. “What are you talking about “BB”… where do you see them as being hypocrites?” “BB” snorted at me and said, “Have you ever seen the state flag of California boy? That there is a grizzly on their state flag. I did some Tine-net research and found that at one time there were 10,000 grizzlies in California. If all these people with the funny names were so hell bent on having a return to what was, why aren’t they pushing for Griz to be back in California? Because no one hunts in California anyhow! They like it like that. So why bother with a state that doesn’t have hunting when you can go after the real enemies in their eyes. It showed me that you dummies are the target boy. If they were even halfways honest they’d be pushing for Griz to be back in California. Talk about a family unit! Ever see a mad momma Griz when she thinks her young are in danger? Don’t you get it? The HSUS leaders vowed to eliminate hunting and by God they’re doing it through that nice little Equal Access to Justice Act.
I sat down heavily on a large boulder and said nothing for a few minutes. “BB” was right. As simplistic as his explanation was, he was right on. I thought of all the people that I know and how few of them participate in the hunting process. I thought of all the zealots with all the funny names and all their financial backing. I thought of all the laws that humans had created and how these zealots had tweaked the system and now made it work for them. Deep in my heart, I knew that the battle had indeed been lost as soon as Bambi hit the big screen. I thought back to all the comments that I had read where so many people had expressed adoration for wolves and had given them mystical powers and family values. “BB” was right and I was even more saddened by the reality of that. I looked at “BB” and said, “You’re right “BB”, humans have no clue about the life cycle anymore and yeah, the zealots have certainly swayed public opinion with all the money they’ve gotten through lawsuits and donations. It really makes me glad that I won’t be around here a hundred years from now. I don’t think I want to see what will happen over time. I feel that we have seen the best of times through all of the conservation efforts and now we’re heading into the worst of times.” “BB” had been watching me carefully while I had digested his analysis. He nodded and said, “My time is shorter than yours boy, but we have indeed seen the best of times. I hope that in the end I make it as some families’ table fare rather than a wolf pack victim.” I glanced over at “BB”, a great physical specimen of Rocky Mountain elk. I thought of the millions of dollars that had been spent to bring him and so many like him back into Arizona. Had it all been a worthless effort? Had the only thing we accomplished been to set the table for a near-extinct predator? I wondered what Teddy Roosevelt would think if he were alive today. I wonder what Teddy would have thought of the hypocrites who won’t bring a single grizzly bear back to California but want to inundate Arizona with wolves.
I looked up at “BB”. “Thanks for the meeting “BB”. By the time we meet in the spring, maybe word will be out as to what the wolves’ future will be in Arizona and the rest of the country. As far as I can tell, there will be a ton of lawsuits and that will delay any action for at least a while. I have a work project up here this spring, maybe we can meet up near the Picture Mountain area. “BB” nodded and said,” I’ll be there, I should have my new antlers coming in pretty darn well by then and we can compare notes.” We both looked back to the west, where the city lights of Phoenix illuminate the Four Peaks wilderness area. We both shook our heads. The worst of times are truly ahead.