I cry for the wolves.

This is so wrong.

Like thousands of others I have been supporting the efforts to ensure that the US Government did not proceed with the proposal to remove wolves from endangered species protection.

Wolves are the animals that enabled early man to ‘progress’ from hunter-gatherer to the life of farming, and thence to our modern world.  As I write elsewhere on Learning from Dogs,

There is no hard evidence about when dogs and man came together but dogs were certainly around when man developed speech and set out from Africa, about 50,000 years ago.

So it utterly breaks my heart to republish a recent post on The Sand County, Jeremy Nathan Marks wonderful and evocative blog.  Here it is, republished with Jeremy’s kind permission.


I used to believe

As some of you may have heard, late last week the Obama Administration officially delisted gray wolves from endangered species protection. This means that 40 years of wolf recovery efforts have come to an end. Wolves only occupy a tiny fraction of their former habitat and with anti-wolf governments occupying the state houses in the few places that still have wolf populations, states like Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Wisconsin, it is hard to imagine that wolves have a bright future in the lower 48 states.

I am deeply, profoundly saddened by this decision. I have learned over time how wolves -like so many other species- just don’t register on the list of national concerns and priorities. A great many people oppose the delisting, in fact one gets the impression that the effort to remove these protections has consistently been guided by political pressures and a political agenda and not by a true commitment to a sustainable and enduring wolf recovery. I know that I am hardly alone in registering my disappointment and voice of protest.

I cannot let this sad milestone pass without acknowledging it here on this blog. If you do not like wolves -if you feel hatred or resentment towards them or are pleased at what has recently transpired, I respectfully request that you refrain from sharing your feelings here. I seldom offer any “directives” like this, but if you are a reader of this blog then you know how strongly I feel about this issue. I am sharing these thoughts because I want to not only draw attention to what has happened, but also because I feel the need to mourn it. I tremble at the thought of a United States -or a North America- without wolves. Defenders of the administration and the Department of Interior’s position will say that the United States Government is committed to protecting wolves and ensuring their future but I am afraid I see things quite differently. This is not a partisan political issue: Democratic and Republican administrations alike are behind this stance towards wolves.

I would like to share a poem which I feel is very incomplete and does not begin to adequately draw upon the well of feelings, concerns and thoughts I have on this subject. But I would be remiss I think if I did not mark what has just happened.

I used to believe

I used to believe that one day
I might live carefully, cooperatively
beside the wolves

I would go to them but respect their
space; wait for their return and tend
my garden with local mind, open my windows

When they moved off I would wait
and make a space; I would lock my guns
in bolted cabinets to honor and not to intrude

I used to believe that there was a chance
of this because there were others who saw
in wolves the same uncertainties and histories

And we, a new community, would redraw
the map, eradicate “the frontier” and perhaps
expunge that word altogether from our plans

It is ironic really how a word, a concept,
one invisible line can have more tendrils
and seeds than a weed, more pups than a pack.

Jeremy Nathan Marks


The Center for Biological Diversity has been incredibly active in fighting for the continued protection of the wolf. The Press Release about the loss of protection is here.  Do read it and do everything you can to help. PLEASE!

Let me share some of my special feelings about wolves.

Back in September, 2009, I wrote about An amazing true story of a relationship between a wild wolf and a man, from which this picture is taken.

Luna, the wild wolf, sleeping with Tim and Tim's dog, taken in 2006.
Luna, the wild wolf, with Tim and Tim’s dog; taken in 2006.

Then in February this year, I wrote about Oregon and the wolf.  The following picture was in that Post.

These wolf pups born to the Wenaha Pack in 2012 helped get recovery back on track. But their future remains tenuous (photo courtesy ODFW)
These wolf pups born to the Wenaha Pack in 2012 helped get recovery back on track. But their future remains tenuous (photo courtesy ODFW)

Please now listen to this:

So you can see that I have written frequently about wolves; indeed just a few days ago did so and included this photograph.

Wolf greets man.
Wolf greets man.

Now just look at those eyes of the Grey Wolf above and compare them to the eyes of the German Shepherd dog below and tell me that wolves aren’t as close to man as dogs.


Finally, feel free to share this post as far and wide as you can.  Learning from Dogs is published under a Creative Commons License. This link covers how to share my material.

Please do something to help these ancient animals who, more than any other creature, helped put mankind ‘on the map’.

Thank you.

9 thoughts on “I cry for the wolves.

  1. Reblogged this on The Sand County and commented:
    Paul Handover has an excellent blog which I have been following for quite some time. His is a compassionate voice that understands the value in all life. He is a champion of many causes, but wolves and canids are one of his specialties. He was kind enough to include my poem “I used to believe” in his blog for today about the terrible tragedy that has befallen Gray Wolves in the United States. I want to share his post and hope that others will share it too. I am nearly speechless with grief about what is happening right now but I refuse to be silent. I hope that a great many people will stand up and object to what the Obama Administration and the Department of the Interior are doing. They are giving the Gray Wolf a death sentence in the United States. And if you don’t believe me, you can simply research the wolf killing policies that are on the books (and being promoted) in states like Idaho and Wyoming (where it is open seasons on any and all wolves who don’t remain confined to Yellowstone, which is of course and impossibility).


  2. I remember an old professor of mine explaining to me what kept him a Christian. He said that the world broke his heart over and again and this made him believe in love and loving redemption.

    I have learned slowly that being an adult means learning to face and acknowledge the many horrors of our world. It also means -for me, anyway- recognizing that love is the one saving grace, the one remaining hope, the one promise that might be kept. And I mean love in the hear and now and not in any afterlife. Love is what animates beauty for me -a beauty that is about more than aesthetics.

    Some people would perhaps think I am ridiculous for saying that I feel that wolves are my kin. But they are. To be kin doesn’t mean we have to think the same thoughts, speak the same spoken language, or even move through the world in precisely the same way. Being kin to me means that we recognize the life lived in one another. I see that life and its light and love in wolves, just as you have beautifully described. And I know people who have lived and worked with wolves have seen that mutuality in their encounters and interactions with wolves and their packs.

    This is a tragedy not only for the wolves whose lives clearly have so little value to hunters, ranchers, government policy-makers (of both political parties) and developers. It is also a tragedy for those of us who believe that preserving, protecting and defending life means including in the great loving circle all those who live and breathe -no exceptions. But that is not how government and politics works in our society and I think this is a painful reminder of that. What is tragic for me is not that greed and violence are so powerful and have been driving policy for so long, it is that I have to keep learning that lesson at the expense of those whom I love and cherish. This is a reminder that we live in a society built upon -frankly it is governed by- violence.


  3. Paul, here is the number for the White House comment line: (202)-456-1111

    I spoke with an operator who recorded my objections and told me that it will be passed along to the Oval Office.

    I know that this on its own is not very much, but I think it is important that many people voice their objections and I wanted to share the number if you did not already have it readily available.


  4. Jeremy, thank you for the number; Jean and I will call before the end of the day. We are waiting for the phone engineer to come and fix the line.

    Please everyone who sees the number, whatever country you are in, and wants to help – Call!


  5. I’m going to republish some comments that were added to Jeremy’s post I used to believe.

    First from Bruce:

    I think we are on similar wavelengths for different animals, when I picked up my camera and started learning how to use it one harsh reality came to me. Were are all the animals that I took for granted when I was half my age and soon it will be so much harder with government plans on culls and destroying eggs that are meant to be protected. cutting hedgerows either too early or needlessly and then remembering the bees are in a bad way. we compile reports that the state of most wildlife is under more pressure than ever before and then that’s is report done, so few seem to be doing anything. oh well we will forever be shortsighted I guess until it is too late.

    Then a reply from Jeremy:

    I think we are too, Bruce.

    I do not know what it will take for a majority of people to see the interconnectedness of all life. I do not know what it will take for that majority not only to form but to exercise power. You are right, the pressures on our ecology are overwhelming. I truly fear a world that will be stripped of biodiversity and will become too warm for most life to survive. It is difficult to express in our utilitarian language and public discourse the depth -the agony- of the losses we are inflicting.

    I am thankful that other people like you share these concerns, I just fear that there are not enough of us who are awake, aware and prepared to act to stop these tragedies. What is so depressing about the United States -Canada too- and I am sure many other societies is that politicians, political parties and the wealthy interests supporting them are impervious to this discussion and these appeals. In fact, they profit from the destruction.

    Then from me:

    “The interconnectedness of all life”. That does say it all. Our neighbours, Dordie and Bill, put food out for the many deer that roam these pastures.

    Around 7am I went down to our pond just to enjoy the world Jean and I live in and there was a young deer grazing the field grass near the water. Slowly, I moved towards a bench seat by the edge of the pond and sat down. The deer strolled away, perhaps some 30 feet, and continued to graze. Thanks to Dordie and Bill this young, beautiful creature was perfectly comfortable with my presence.

    I sat there and my mind wander back to some far-off time when a curious young wolf might have let curiousity compell it to come a little closer to a human, perhaps nibble at the bone that the human threw in its direction. Then I reflected on how certain aspects of our ‘modern’ society show utter and complete contempt for that interconnectedness of life, and I silently wept.


  6. I am saddened to hear this. Unfortunately the Obama administration is fast going down as one remembered for many bad decisions. The wolves won’t last long against the hunters.


  7. Paul I am more than saddened to hear this news, and came by to comment.. I signed a petition some time ago it seems now, and It really breaks my heart to see that the Government is so blind as to the eco of nature and why Wolves are so important .. As well as being such wonderful animals… Mankind will ultimately pay the price.. We are destroying our Planet…species by species,…
    Sending my thoughts ~ Sue


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