SOMEWHERE TO THE EASTWARD a wolf howled; lightly, questioningly. I knew the voice, for I had heard it many times before. It was George, sounding the wasteland for an echo from the missing members of his family. But for me it was a voice which spoke of the lost world which once was ours before we chose the alien role; a world which I had glimpsed and almost entered, only to be excluded, at the end, by my own self.” 1
The quote above is from Farley Mowatt’s 1963 book Never Cry Wolf, a fictionalized account of his experiences with the wolves in sub-Arctic Canada. It deals with his observations on how the wolves survived the winter handily by preying on vermin—not plucking the pride of various caribou runs.
A little less action, a little more conversation, please. All this action ain’t satisfactioning me! 1
That said, the slaughter of our wolves for just those and similar dis-proven reasons continues. the state of Idaho has given $225,000 to the federal kill-for-hire agency, Wildlife Services, to accelerate the killing of wolves. The planned slaughter will be used to exterminate the wolf population of the state.
“It’s no secret that Idaho has declared war on its wolf population. But few people realize just how far Idaho has gone in its effort to dramatically reduce their population. At the end of 2013, it was estimated that there were only 20 breeding pairs of wolves left in the Idaho wild.
That number will surely steeply decline if Idaho’s War on Wolves continues. Since 2009, the number of breeding pairs has declined by 60%. Based on these plummeting numbers, the future of Idaho’s wolves is increasingly grim.”
The above is taken from a newsletter from Jamie Rappaport Clark, President of Defenders of Wildlife (September 17, 2014). There is more information on this horror show, so click on over and give it a read.
The original 1971 pressing of The Language And Music Of The Wolves on Tonsil Records for Natural History Magazine (top) contains, “The actual language and music of the Wolf recorded in his remaining territories.” It is a staple at yard sales and thrift stores for decades and has no real collectors value. The second pressing on Columbia (C-30769) that followed a few months later in 1971 (bottom) had a much better cover and much better distribution but sold fewer copies and is much more difficult to find. 2
The language and music of the wolves
Ever since Robert Redford narrated The Language And The Music Of The Wolves for Natural History Magazine in 1971, we have known that virtually everything we ‘know’ and fear about wolves just ain’t so. Despite being on a tiny specialized label, this album received widespread sales and attention..
Of course, it had zero effect on the slaughter of our wolves.
The belief that wolves were responsible for dwindling herds of Alaskan caribou had previously rent asunder by Farley Mowat’s 1963 book Never Cry Wolf. “We have doomed the wolf not for what it is but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be: the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless killer—which is, in reality, not more than the reflected image of ourselves. We have made it the scapewolf for our own sins.”
Of course, it had zero effect on the slaughter of our wolves.
In 1983, Mowat’s book was adapted to the big screen as Never Cry Wolf. Directed by Carroll Ballard, it stars Charles Martin Smith as a government biologist sent into the wilderness, essentially to prove that wolves have been slaughtering the caribou, even though no one has ever seen a wolf kill a caribou. Without slipping into spoiler alert, I will only say it wasn’t the wolves.
That said, farmers and ranchers demand that these beasts be massacred off of “their” lands. And men-with-rifles (I will not grace these killers with the term “hunter” here) are only too willing to oblige. Out here in the mild Wild West, Idaho, and my own state of Washington are chomping at their bits to pull some triggers and eliminate a kissin’ cousin of man’s best friend.
Now, if only a Mowat or a Redford or a Smith would come along with a book or a record or a movie that would finally dispel the long-standing, oft-repeated rumor that Elvis is not now nor has he ever been a werewolf!
First edition by McLelland and Stewart Limited, Toronto (1963). Nice cover art with a children’s book look. “We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer—which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.”
A sanctuary for displaced wolves
Then there is Wolf Haven International is a wolf sanctuary that has rescued and provided a lifetime home for over 180 displaced, captive-born animals since 1982. Guided walking tours offer visitors a rare, close-up view of wolves. The mission of Wolf Haven International is to “Conserve and protect wolves and their habitat.”
They rescue and provide sanctuary for displaced, captive-born wolves, offer educational programs about wolves and the value of all wildlife, promote wolf restoration in historic ranges, and work to protect our remaining wild wolves and their habitat.
Visitors can also follow a walking trail through beautiful native Mima Mound prairie and enjoy the native flowers, birds, butterflies that can be found there. Wolf Haven is located in South Puget Sound, between Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. Please call or check the website before coming to visit to ensure that Wolf Haven is open that day. Wolf Haven operates under a seasonal schedule. 3
Finally, I regularly post petitions to stop the slaughter of these canines on my Facebook page, Bleeding Heart Liberal Petitions. If hunting for them there is an issue, here are several sites ready for your signature:
There are many more: go to your search engine and type in “save wolves petition” and sign as many as you can find. For the farmers and ranchers and canine-killers in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and elsewhere, we need a little less action and a little more conversation, please.
FEATURED IMAGE: The beautiful photo of a gray wolf at the top of this page accompanied the article “Colorado activists deliver signatures in attempt to put gray wolf reintroduction on 2020 ballot” on The Denver Channel website.
1 The parenthetical part of the original title is an allusion to the song A Little Less Conversation, a flop for Elvis Presley when first released as a single in 1968. In 2002, it was a worldwide hit, reaching #1 in at least nine countries. (It wasn’t played much on American pop music radio stations as it wasn’t hip-hop). The refrain goes, “A little less conversation, a little more action, please. All this conversation ain’t satisfactioning me.”
2 For the avid record collectors, neither of the albums above has much value as collectables, but the first pressing is a near-ubiquitous yard sale find. The Columbia pressing, well, I almost never see that one. Still, if you hold out, visit enough garages, you will probably find them for a buck apiece.
3 The text on Wolf Haven was lifted from their promotional literature. I visited the sanctuary once thirty years ago and was amazed by the inhabitants. The guide relayed interesting facts and stories about why wolves make less than perfect pets and explained the ring of missing bark around many trees in the wolves’ haven.
Original poster for the movie that illustrates the beauty of the surroundings and the isolation of the protagonist. Interesting that the producers selected an image that did not display a single wolf. A fine film that should have made Charles Martin Smith a bigger draw as an actor.