Riding wolves? It’s time to howl about the National Wildlife Federation’s riding the backs of wolves while pandering to passion in order to extract dollars.
Many decades ago the National Wildlife Federation sprang from an association of local and state wildlife clubs to become a reasonable voice for conservation and nature education. They published an informative and beautifully illustrated wildlife magazine plus Ranger Rick magazine for kids. Nice stuff with solid, scientific information and a pragmatic “conserve, use widely, and enjoy” philosophy.
Today’s NWF might be something different. I stopped being a member many years ago when the publications seemed to be drifting more toward animal veneration than pragmatic, scientific conservation and management. Whether this is true or just my perception I don’t know, but recent pleas for funding don’t inform my opinion.
Like so many “conservation” organizations, NWF plays the heartstrings, trading on emotions to loosen purse strings. Just yesterday I got yet another email plea featuring a (shocker!) wolf and inviting me to symbolically adopt one of the same. Yes, the NWF is riding wolves for dollars.
As if a wolf wants or even needs me or any other human to wrap him in our arms after a sudsy bath and make him our blood brother. Blood is just about the only part of that sentence the wolf would like.
I haven’t dug deeply into this, but did read on the NWF website that that organization would plant one tree for every “adoption kit” they sell. And you can choose to become the adoptive guardian of a wide variety of animals from polar bears (no surprise) to bats (some surprise) to rattlesnakes (shocker.) How planting a tree helps a polar bear was not explained.
OK. I get it. If a non-profit like this wants to save and enhance wildlife habitat (I hope that’s what they’re doing) they need $. And begging funds to buy a swamp or high plains grassland on which wolves harass, hamstring, and eat elk alive isn’t going to cut it. The way to a man’s and woman’s wallet is through his/her emotions. Thus the wolf, your surrogate pet (or yourself?) running wild and free.
Folks, I’m tired of fund raisers riding wolves, those poor, weak, fragile wolves teetering on the brink. Yes, we need wolves as functioning parts of a big, wild, wilderness world. But we have them aplenty in The Great White North. Alaska and Canada and Glacier National Park and northern Minnesota and now much of Idaho, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and parts of California threatening Colorado. It seems the more successful and widespread the wolves, the more desperately groups like NWF need to save them.
The unmentioned problem with this is that it takes funds away from species that really are endangered, those that depend on intact biotic communities we are busy bulldozing so we don’t have to actually live cheek-to-jowl with wolves and bats and rattlesnakes. Why don’t save-the-poor-cuddly-carnivore groups follow the lead of pragmatic and wildly successful organizations like Ducks Unlimited and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation? They have not just hugged a mallard, but purchased, rehabilitated and saved from destruction millions of acres of wild lands on which millions of native plants and animals flourish year after year. And they don’t require annual adoption fees.
I’m sorry sports fans, but a collective sigh and group hug is not going to save our wildlife. Nor will ignoring our relentless conversion of wild places into crops and towns. Turning loose wolves, rattlesnakes, and lions to roam our backyards isn’t going to work long term. It isn’t going to repopulate the Plains with bison, pronghorns, and elk. Or prairie chickens and fringed gentians. This “save the world” green movement requires more than wolf worship and solar panels. It goes well beyond weeping for a dead, senescent lion.
The Earth isn’t going to die in 12 years if we don’t abandon plains, trains, and automobiles, but our wildlife and our freedom to interact with it will continue slipping away at an ever escalating rate. We don’t need to adopt wolves. We need to adopt a pragmatic, scientific, realistic approach to living WITH the natural world.
The author has worked for conservation agencies. He’s researched and written about wildlife and wild places and humans’ interactions with them for decades. He’s camped, fished, hiked, gardened, and planted hundreds of trees without assistance from NWF or any other adoption agency. He and his l wife are currently protecting, enhancing, and restoring a former cattle ranch while living off the grid and making their own energy and food in the Rocky Mountain foothills. They feel fortunate, not superior. The only wolf they have adopted answers to “Covey.” She lives to prey upon grouse and pheasants, aided and abetted by her slave, the author.