The recent killing of Cecil, a popular lion, in Zimbabwe has more than ruffled a few feathers so to speak. Until now the debate is limited to big game hunting in Africa. Some politicians are ready to jump in with new legislation concerning the import of game trophies from other countries.
What about trophy hunting in front of our own doorsteps? We allow the killing, sometimes also referred to as “harvesting”, of big game in the United States, without any intent for consumption of the meat. A selfie, bragging rights, a head mount or a pelt are the only intent for killing that animal.
We still have states that encourage and reward the killing of species, such as coyotes in UT, that we consider a pest. As a result, the occasional wolf ends up being shot without any consequences to the shooter, since the laws state, if you shoot a wolf mistakenly, you are free to go. Hence, Echo, the first gray wolf to appear in the Grand Canyon after decades was killed by accident. The shooter went free, the female wolf is gone.
Now, the first gray wolf in years has been spotted in Northern California. Wolves once roamed the Coastal Range from San Diego to Sacramento, Shasta County and the central Sierra Nevada. Through a government funded extermination campaign in the 1920s Canis lupus was hunted to extinction. Today, the gray wolf is on California’s Endangered Species List.
What does that all say? Times are changing. We don’t live any more in a world of abundant wildlife. It is simply unethical to kill animals for “sport”. Declining populations, such as the Alexander Archipelago wolf should be protected, period. Wildlife management as an oxymoron. It would mean, we know the correct population size and distribution of prey and predator. Instead, we manage based on monetary and other interest, not science, because there is no such thing as exact science when it comes to wildlife management that includes culling.
I’ll stop here, fully aware that no big game hunter will read this or the following: