Baxter Black

Wolf Reintroduction

02-12-99 ยท The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to reintroduce the wolf into Gettysburg National Military Park. They hope to recreate the balance of nature that existed 200 years ago. If it is successful, plans are to expand wolf releases in Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation area in Ohio and the Midewin National Tall Grass Prairie south of Chicago. The government has explained it may be necessary to prohibit camping, hiking or tourist activities in the 6,000-acre Gettysburg Park. The presence of humans can be disruptive to the wolves' acclimation.

Communities within 100 miles, including Baltimore and Philadelphia, are up in arms! They argue that wolves are not endangered. That they are pack hunters and a danger to livestock, pets and people.

The government has responded that the wolves have a right to be in Gettysburg and it is up to us to undo an old wrong. There will be a payment schedule set up for farmers who lose calves and lambs to wolf predation. Remuneration for pugs, poodles, persians and joggers will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Wait a minute, Bax. This is a joke, right? Nobody is gonna introduce wolves within 200 miles of Washington, DC, New York, Pittsburg and Atlantic City.

Yes. You're right, of course, it's a joke. No Secretary of Interior or Vice President is going to risk his bureaucratic hiny on something so dumb. There are millions of voters and hundreds of elected officials within 200 miles of Gettysburg.

However, there is a wolf reintroduction program underway right now. But it is on the Arizona-New Mexico border within 200 miles of Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque and El Paso.

I would venture a guess that most of the elected officials from around Gettysburg are supportive of the Arizona Wolf Reintroduction Plan or could care less. It's easy to be green when it's not personal.

It is frustrating for ranchers and farmers who are frequently the victims of these sometimes harebrained political schemes whose purpose often seems to be nothing but appeasement of the loudest group of loonies.

Those of us who live, love and work the vast landscape beyond suburbia are not wolf haters or spotted owl haters or short-nosed sucker haters. And I expect most would be willing to sacrifice the occasional critter to a grizzly or mountain lion or coyote. Especially if the sacrifice was shared by those who clamor the loudest for wolf reintroduction and snail darter rehabitation. But it is not.

And it's hard to be friends with a neighbor who wants to walk his dog in your yard when he needs to do his business.

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