Running Down Wolves

Gray wolf. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

The running down and torture of a wolf by Wyoming resident Cody Roberts has caused widespread, even global outrage. Wyoming slapped Roberts on the wrist with a $250 fine after he was dumb enough to boast about his cruelty and post photos on social media. While Wyoming is taking the heat for this crime, it could easily happen in other Western states.

In Montana, it is not illegal to run over coyotes with a snowmobile. You are not supposed to run over wolves but who is checking? It may not be legal to transport them alive or torture wolves, but there are plenty of ways to legally inflict pain and suffering on Montana wildlife. Wolves can be trapped and left for hours. Same with coyotes, bobcats, martens, fisher, otters, bears, foxes, etc. It is also legal to snare (strangle) wild animals like wolves, as well as bait them and shoot them at night while they are blinded by bright lights. It is also allowed to chase black bears with dogs in spring when they have tiny cubs.

Don’t forget that Montana Governor Gianforte illegally shot a collared wolf that had been trapped and held for him to kill.

It’s truly appalling to see what horrors humans are willing to inflict, in the name of “sport,” on animals that experience pain, fear, affection, social bonding, and many other emotions just like we do.

Are we cavemen still? Can we rise above our apparent need to abuse and kill other species? It’s time to reexamine what practices our state fish and game agencies allow, and what our state legislatures sanction, in regard to wild animals. We can start with outlawing the intentional running down of wildlife with motor vehicles. Maybe we can actually start to evolve as a species.

Phil Knight is an environmental activist in Bozeman, Montana. He is a board member of the Gallatin-Yellowstone Wilderness Alliance.