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Wolves, Scouts and a new beginning–The Wyoming Wolf Management Plan

I’ve been filling my ears with Jon Young’s ‘Advanced Bird Language’ CD’s.  If you don’t know Jon Young, he’s an expert tracker and naturalist.   On tape 7, something caught my attention that’s so pertinent to what’s about to occur in Wyoming.

Native Americans considered wolves their brothers.  Many tribes called their scouts ‘wolves’.  The wolf was the premier hunter and the Indians learned from them.  On this tape, Young goes into some specifics about wolves as the ultimate teachers and models for their scouts.  Indian scouts were special members of the tribe that fanned far out into the landscape to warn the tribe of dangers, or tell them of food sources or new areas to occupy.  Scouts were the most highly trained in the art of ‘invisibility’, moving unseen through the landscape.  They needed to be able to cover great distances in a short amount of time, be fully aware of their surroundings, and bring back the needed information as well as do all this traveling very lightly.

Sunlight Pack black wolf

Here, paraphrasing Jon Young’s words, is his explanation for why wolves were the ultimate teachers for these individuals:

“Wolves move in a highly efficient manner.  They move with such stealth and perfection that their tracks are like poetry of perfection.  They place their feet in such a proper manner, even at high speeds.  They are masters of energy conservation even while moving.”

Two wolves side trot down the road

“Wolves are highly intelligence.  They can watch someone perform a task, like undo a latch, just once, and unlike a dog that must be trained, they can go over and undo that latch with their nose.  To observe, to see the pattern, to recognize it, and then to do it themselves–that’s intelligence.”

“Cougars and Bears master invisibility by moving very slow, by traveling in dark and shadowy places, but wolves don’t have that luxury.  Wolves might cover 25 miles in one night so they are practicing invisibility while also covering huge distances.  This is something that scouts really looked to as a role model.  So the scout had to be like the wolf also.  They had to run long distances in silence,  pull the information and bring it back.”

Wolf eating fish it caught in the Lamar

“Scouts, like wolves, needed to recognize things not just with tunnel vision but out of the corner of their eye, with their peripheral vision and be able to instantly respond.”

“Wolves are crepuscular, which means they travel at the edge of night–at dusk and at dawn.  Wolves are the masters of illusion and can stay just on the edges; so the scout modeled that ability to stay on the edge of sight.”

“Wolves have incredible hearing.  They are following sound even in their sleep. Wolves are the ultimate power in Awareness.  Their eyesight, their hearing, their sense of smell, all their senses combine to create enormous instinctive ability.”

I have known that Indian scouts were called ‘wolves’, but this is the best point-by-point explanation of ‘why’ that I’ve ever encountered.

Why is this so pertinent this week?  Because this Friday, Sept. 9 at 5 pm, all comments will be due, in writing only, on the Proposed Wolf Management Plan in Wyoming, in other words, the plan that will determine the future fate of wolves in this state regarding hunting, quotas, designated status (Predator and/or Trophy Game), etc.

Whether you are for or against hunting wolves, whether you live in Wyoming (Idaho, or Montana where the hunts are already taking place) or in a big city, consider these traditional notions and views I have laid out above about wolves.

Sunlight wolf

Once, in this great Country of ours, wolves were our teachers, friends, with attributes to aspire to.  This is Our Story, the story that goes with Our Ancestral Lands of North America. The stories from the Old World that we were told in our youths, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ stories, the stories that created and fed on our present day fears, these were only partial tales, partial teaching stories. These were the stories told to young children so they wouldn’t venture into the woods alone.  All cultures had those stories.  But in every culture as the children grew to adolescence, they were told different stories, richer, fuller stories with more complexities for their more complex growing brains.  These were the stories that called young people to embrace role models.  The bear that was once scary for the young child, is now a great hunter.  And the wolf that might devour you, the little kid, walking in the forest (not having listened to your parents) is now a story told with more nuance, more richness, so you will aspire to model that wolf and become a great scout.

In this important moment, when wolves will finally be fully delisted in Wyoming, as well as Idaho and Montana, we need the full story, the story that enriches and dignifies this majestic predator that has always belonged back in our landscape.

5 Responses

  1. I didn’t know that Indian Scouts were called “wolves,” so I found this posting quite interesting. I was unaware that this Friday, is the last day to send comments on the Proposed Wolf Management Plan. Do you know if these comments can be sent by email, and if so, what would that address be?


  2. There is a link above under Proposed Wolf Management Plan that will take you to the WY G&F site and the plan directly. On their site you will find the address to send to in Cheyenne. They said no phone or email, but did give a fax number on there, so I am assuming mail or fax, in writing only, is what they want. Their comment period was short, only 1 month, and although they had the required town hall meetings, I’m sure they did it this way to avoid all the hot tempers around this issue. Try the link in my blog entry above.


  3. OK, I’ll have to take another look. I only checked out the link to see what it contained, it looks like a good document, but I didn’t have time to do anything other than scan it. I didn’t see any address, so If I have time today, I’ll have to take another look. I am beginning my training with Melissa today for the new bird program, and we are expected to know our birds well, so I am pretty busy reading about our various bird types, and I will work with here on Wed. and Thursday also.


  4. I wrote a blog entry a few weeks ago about anti-wolf hysteria in the Rocky Mountains. While researching online, I cyber-stumbled into some of the hunters who think humans are the only animal that should be allowed to kill other animals. Their responses to my opinion were predictably hostile. Besides hating wolves, they hate people with differing opinions.


  5. it only takes an excuse for a hunter to kill something,taking wolves off this list is the excuse to exicute this fine animal.


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