E. F. McSweeney: DOW cannot control the wolves that come


In the Jan.15 issue of the Saturday Morning Press, which I receive as a Postal Patron, an article titled, "Wolves Welcome?" appeared. Although I am aware that old fool's comments are seldom welcome, I can't resist the urge.

I grew up in the time when the Western Slope was in the condition that disillusioned ecologists seem to think was pristine. But like the arrogant and uninformed youths of today, I thought things could stand a little fixing. For amusement, we could sit in one spot and shoot 50 ground squirrels, the reason shooting was so good is that the squirrels had consumed all the vegetation that might have provided them cover. Or we could catch a horse and make a little run. This activity did present a risk, because the horse might break a leg in the horizon-to-horizon rodent holes. In our riding adventures, we'd see a deer once or twice a year, but predators were as abundant in the wildlife sector of that time, as they are in the ecology establishment of today.

In a long and bitter struggle, the wolves had been reduced to a surviving few, which gave the livestock industry opportunity to glean any vegetation that the insects and rodents had missed. From the denuded landscape, flash floods were generated every time we received a hard rain. It was exciting to watch temporary brown rivers, with their peculiar smell, rush by. If our feet were on firm ground, we could watch copious numbers of rodents and raffle snakes swim for their lives, before they plunged into the arroyos that annually marched further up the bottoms of every draw. So much for the pristine world of yester year. People, pests and adverse weather were tuming the promised land into a moonscape.

When the dust bowl weather began to moderate, the big game population started a gradual increase. Although there was a coyote under every bush, they didn't have to indulge in the hard kill, all they had to do was open their mouths, and jack rabbits would run in, but they still preferred lamb. Then one day, some fellows come to borrow some horses, they said they were working for the Federal Rodent Control. After those long lines of evenly spaced horsemen broadcast tons of poisoned grain, the rodent hordes vanished, and the land began to heal rapidly. With improved weather and no rodents, the vegetation was able to slow the raging erosion, and Colorado's famous big-game herds started to reappear.

Now in their infinite wisdom, our benefactors are going to revive all those blessings we enjoyed in the good old days. And teach us how to control pests without resorting to violence. Too bad they weren't around at the close of the man-wolf war, when one wolf was terrorizing a major portion of Routt and Eagle counties. You can be sure this champion of the wolf clans knew what his mouth was made for, unlike some modem apologists, who sometimes suffer from what I'll call the, "excretion syndrome" for lack of a better term.

Yes, the DOW can bring the wolves back; but there is no way they can control them. Nor can they control the Northern Pike they introduced, who eat up all those native fish that the animal advocates value so highly. They can't control the coyotes who gobble up those wonderful kangaroo mice as fast as they emerge. They can't control the prairie dogs that they must have for the Black Foot Ferret program. Nor can the prairie dogs control the fleas and snakes that feed on them. But worst of all, they can't control the mobs of slue-footed predators generally referred to as mankind, sometimes specifically referred to as ecologists. They will continue to tromp and foul the earth regardless of what the DOW tries to do. Perhaps we do need to introduce wolves, but only wolves who are genetically altered to eat only malignant plants, animals and people.

E. F. McSweeney


Editor's note: The DOW is considering a management plan for wolves that migrate to Colorado. There is no plan to transplant wolves here.

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