the slaughter of our wolves (a little less action, a little more conversation)

Es­ti­mated reading time is 6 min­utes.

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.


RobertRedford LanguageAndMusicOfTheWolves Tonsil 600

RobertRedford LanguageAndMusicOfTheWolves Columbia 600

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!


FarleyMowat NeverCryWolf 1st 600

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.


GrayWolf reintroduction 1200

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.




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