Montana Wolf

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wolf and the Power of Silence

The phone call came as I napped. The Montana State wolf biologist was setting up cameras in proximity to a wolf den, could I be ready in an hour? I hoped to update an earlier interview and with luck, get pictures of a den and pups.

I won't divulge the drainage.
I won't write times and distances.
I live in Kill Club Land, where manhood grows in proportion to how many wolves he can shoot, poison or trap, legal or not. (For the record, I am pro-hunting; I believe troublesome wolves, as any troublesome animal, should be dealt with, fatally if necessary. I do not believe that anti-wolf hysteria and politics should determine the fate of the wild.) 

The reality is, green counts this spring show elk populations up in this region, which has the highest number of wolves. One pocket that had a decline saw an increase near-by, which supports my hunch that wolves aren't killing ungulates as much as they are moving them. White-tailed deer populations are down the last few years but increasing; large fluctuations are normal. Impacts are many: lions, bears, wolves, hard winters and increased  hunting pressure. Wildlife has lost literal mountains of thermal warmth and cover as a result of logging.

The walk to the den was grassy and quiet. Wild rose bloomed pink. Birdsong wafted through the woods on the cusp of a rain squall that rolled up valley on gusts that carried our scents towards the den. Not good for wild-watching. We stopped within many yards of the GPS location for the radio-collared wolf. No wolves were in sight. Biologist and his assistant tied the camera to a tree and scented a near-by log to attract. We did not push the envelope, important to "let wolves be wolves," he said. When we'd walked twenty yards down mountain, however, he turned and let loose with an impressive howl. Wolf-speak. Anticipation. Silence.  

The assistant told me earlier that week she had been checking for scat in a different area and was suddenly met by barking wolf pups. The sparkle in her eyes told the tale of surprise and delight. She left their proximity. No harm done. No one carried firearms this day or that one.

We bushwhacked down the mountain hopping between game trails. Mariposa lilies blanketed a small ravine, topping off a glorious afternoon. It didn't matter that I saw or heard no wolves. They were there, watching us. The forest brimmed with their mysterious, cunning ways. Their presence, a vital link to a feral, authentic world.

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NOTE: Montana Fish and Wildlife is currently proposing a 2012-2013 lengthened hunting season for wolves that includes trapping for the first time since de-listing from their protected status. Comments are being taken until 5:00 p.m. June 25th. To email your comments to go: 
http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/publicComments/2012_13proposedWolfHunt.html 

Go to http://fwp.mt.gov/fwpDoc.html?id=55779 for information on the proposed expanded hunting season.


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