A few days ago, the patriarch of Oregon wolves, OR 4, was hunted down by helicopter and murdered along with his pregnant mate and two pups. He was ten years old, had worn teeth and was presumably doing what wolves are supposed to be doing, hunting to survive. His mate, OR 39 wasn’t much help due to the fact that she had a badly healed limb that caused her to limp and his pups were only a year old. In the wild, OR 4 and OR 39 would have eventually died from not finding enough cold kills or being able to bring down game and their pups would have either barely survived or died from starvation if they weren’t able to find another pack to take them in.
However, there isn’t a lot of “wild” left in America despite our open spaces. Even our public lands, also known as national parks, are rented out to ranchers for graze. OR 4, like most wolves anymore, shared his territory with ranchers and other humans. OR 4 presumably killed livestock of ranchers on private lands multiple times and due to the rules of Oregon and their ‘wolf management plan’ he had to be killed. (He made 4 private land kills in one month despite being radio collared, and the ranchers using dogs and range riders. That’s one tough wolf. He makes us humans look bad.)
So, humans tracked him down by his radio collar and killed him and his mate and pups because they feared that the pups would only go after livestock instead of wild elk and deer. And they did it by helicopter so that none of them would have a chance to run away.
A wolf pack gone just like that.
This is a divisive issue. I don’t have all the facts. I do feel that him being a wolf, acting like a wolf and doing what a wolf does, provide for his pack, doesn’t “earn” him or his pack a bullet.
Here is what makes me angry. We humans used OR 4 to reintroduce wolves back into the ecosystem of Oregon. OR 4 went above and beyond what we humans asked of him. One of his pups, OR 7, traveled all the way to the California border and started a new pack there. Overpopulated animals such as deer and elk allowed these wolves to thrive. And after ten years of this, at the tail end of his years and when he could no longer take care of himself, despite the fact his mate was pregnant, despite the fact he had young pups and that this was by all means a pack, they killed him instead of tranquilizing him and moving him into conservation or someplace where he could live in peace for what few years he had left. OR 4 was a ‘celebrity’ of the wolf rehabilitation world. Hadn’t he earned some consideration?
Rather than a bullet from a loud shooting platform that he couldn’t understand.
To make matters worse, the wolves of Oregon were removed from the endangered species list in November of 2015. Of the 110 wolves in Oregon, most of them progeny in one way or another of OR 4, four months after they were removed, four were killed. One wolf for each month. That is a dangerous precedent. How can humans claim to want to conserve or rehabilitate any wild animal if their first thought after taking them off the endangered species list is to go straight back to killing them? Isn’t that what got them on the endangered species list to begin with? How sad that this is the fallacy of human thinking.
Good Bye OR 4, OR 39 and pups. May your progeny thrive despite humans.