Matho’s blog: Conservationists have won when hunting begins

The recently retired executive director of the International Wolf Center (IWC) makes a lot of sense. Mary Ortiz helped form the US-based organisation 25 years ago to protect wolves and educate people about them. And she says the increasing number of wolf hunts being announced by US states is a cause for celebration.

It’s a somewhat ironic celebration, admittedly, but she’s not particularly upset about hunters going out after the animals she’s been fighting to protect for so long. Her point is simply that if wolf populations have grown so much that they can be removed from the endangered species list, the protectors have succeeded.

“Wolves just don’t need to be on there any more,” she says.

The IWC has steadfastly refused to have an official position on wolf hunting. Ortiz knows most of the several thousand members are against wolf hunting but she comes across as a more pragmatic, less sentimental person. She’s a welcome contrast to the nutters and emotional cripples of groups like PETA or even the more staunch animals rights activists beginning to take over organisations like the RSPCA.

I’m beginning to think that mobs like PETA should be treated much the same as the poachers who are wiping out elephants and rhinos by the hundred in Africa, or the ones hunting numerous species to the edge of extinction in Asia. While poaching might be hunting by definition, it is not hunting as you and I know it, nor as we respect it. You and I have more in common with Mary Ortiz than with those criminal poachers. And I suspect Ortiz may have more in common with us than with fundamentalist animal rights activists.

Ortiz says she’s optimistic about the future of wolves. So she should be, because no one in their right mind wants to see them gone, and modern management of animals means that scenario should never happen. Hunters, of course, want a healthy population, too, or there’ll be no hunting. Governments wants hunters because it means they earn money from wolf management rather than having to spend it doing the job themselves. Everyone is happy.

Everyone except the fringe dwellers of animals protection. Let their screams fall on deaf ears.

The radio interview with Ortiz is worth listening to. The short version is here and the full half hour is here.


Mick Matheson




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.