Wolf Talk

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I want to commend Jeff Jayne, policeman and hunter, for being on the wolf discussion panel last week despite being sort of a "lone wolf" in a pro wolf audience.  It was refreshing and reassuring to know that there are hunters who are willing to take the emotionality out of this hot topic and who are willing to look for and sort through the facts in order to make a difference in a cooperative way.

As a naturopathic physician I know to appreciate the many people in N-Idaho who are hunting for the sake of getting meat on the table.  Game is the healthiest meat one can get, it is a great cheap source of protein, and procuring it gets people out in the woods to relax and exercise.  I also have lots of vegetarians amongst my patients and from a medical perspective for some people this is the healthiest diet to follow.  Whether it is lack of resources to buy meat in the grocery store, or a philosophical objection to eating meat, or a desire to be closer to nature by hunting and fulfilling human's top predator role, we all need to acknowledge each others' right to exercise our freedom.  We need to cooperatively exist just like the wolves can live side by side with humans.

I personally have had several encounters with wolves and our family has tracked a pack of 6 wolves by our house several winters now.  It hurts to think that these beautiful, socially adept animals could be hunted down to fulfill some quota.  However, talking to Jeff later on I realized that the situation in Yellowstone, which was wonderfully depicted in the movie, is unique as the human "predator" role has been eliminated, allowing elk and wolf and the whole ecosystem to balance all on its own.  Here in N-Idaho we do have hunters, whether we like it or not, and they do ultimately, through hunting licenses, game tags and tax on hunting item sales, fund all wildlife programs.  Considering that, we need to find ways to manage wolves and elk such as has been done successfully in Minnesota for many years, to allow both hunters and livestock farmers to continue their livelihoods.

This will first of all require to take the emotionality out of the issue, such as not creating fear that wolves will introduce tapeworms lethal to humans or not suggesting that if everyone became vegetarian the problem would be eliminated.  Secondly, people from all camps need to be willing to look beyond their own agenda and look together at the facts and come up with cooperative solutions.  I think this panel was a great start, even though next time the moderator might stick more to the moderator role rather than using it to advance her own agenda.

Gabrielle Duebendorfer, ND, Sandpoint

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