Merriott column: Remember the tale of Alpha Male #10

Frosty Merriott

Last Saturday, the front-page headlines of the Post Independent caught my eye and cemented my monthly column subject. “Hunting groups join opposition to Colorado wolves,” it read.

Seems “Hunting” and outdoor advocacy group Safari Club International announced it raised $140,000 to fight the reintroduction of wolves in Colorado. Hold that thought for now.

There have been numerous articles and op-eds in the papers per the referendum going before the citizens of Colorado this fall. The reintroduction of the wolf to its old stomping grounds, hmmm?

An interesting observation is that European immigration in the 19th century quickly decimated the wolf’s staple diet of bison, elk, deer and smaller mammals. Then the wolf began attacking domesticated herds (cattle and sheep) to survive.

As a result, their fate was that of the buffalo — total annihilation by we humans. By the 1940s, wolves had vanished from Colorado along with the aforementioned buffalo, wolverines, moose, bald eagles, lynx, and the list goes on.

This is a controversial subject; understandably, as wolves are known to kill cattle and sheep for an easy meal. Many of our ranchers, especially here in the Valley, fear that loss of income.

I am concerned I may alienate friends who I have worked hard to have a relationship with, even though we disagree on key issues. Hey, my mantra is, as long as someone is honest and is having respectful dialogue, I am all ears.

Just please don’t start with the hyperbole and sound bytes like the article last Saturday which said that wolves “indiscriminately kill moose”? WTH! Really, did you mean mice, because I have seen a moose in Yellowstone chase a bear off a deer carcass.

On this same Yellowstone Wildlife Viewing Trip presented by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in May of 2009, my daughter and I heard a lecture by Doug Smith. Doug co-wrote “Decade of the Wolf — Returning the Wild to Yellowstone.” It was selected as 2006 Montana Book of the Year.

Doug actually went with us on a field trip to the Lamar Valley where we observed a wolf pack circle a small elk herd laid up in an aspen grove. The “lead cow” was keeping watch. When the alpha male got too close, she alerted her herd and then she charged right at the wolf and literally chased it off. She was 5 feet off its ass. It zagged, she zagged, it zigged, she zigged.

It was like Josh Norman on Odell Beckham Jr. (sorry, I’m having football withdrawals).

Doug was in charge of the very successful wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone. On March 21 of 1995, Alpha Male #10 was released. He was the largest, boldest and most beautiful of the Canadian wolves and the first to leave the pens. He became the first wolf to roam our nation’s grandest national park in over 60 years.

Alpha Male 10 managed to father four male and four female pups before he was illegally shot and killed on April 23, 1995. I am not sure what the right answer here is for Colorado, but I know it is magical to hear the wolves howling in the wilderness during a full moon. I also know there may just be too many damn people in Colorado now, as my friend Perry Will said (he didn’t say “damn,” that’s me).

It is an issue we should address before running out of water, never mind the wolves. Sorry, I have gotten off subject.

I don’t want to reintroduce wolves just to murder them out of helicopters and bait them into painful snares for only doing what God created them to do — eat when they are hungry and raise their families. Who else does that? Oh, yeah, us.

Remember that thought you were holding. Last Saturday, the “hunting group” Safari Club International auctioned off a permitted grizzly bear river hunt in Alaska with Donnie Trump Jr. for $150K. I’m not sure, but is that a proverbial quid pro quo. Just asking, because I just don’t know any more.

Frosty Merriott is a CPA in Carbondale and served on Town Council for 10 years. He is a registered Independent, considers himself a fiscal conservative and an original tree hugger from Louisiana. He prefers to shoot his grizzlies up close and personal with his Nikon camera and not participate in blood sport.

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