WHY IS ADVOCATING FOR WOLVES SO DIFFICULT?

People often wonder why advocacy on behalf of gray wolves is so difficult and the simple answer is lack of education. When a person knows little about someone or something they tend to rely on others to educate them.  In the case of the wolf not everyone can drop everything and move to the heart of wolf country to find out for themselves what it's like to live amongst wolves so people will seek out more information from presentations, books, articles, etc... Sadly though, just because they've read it or heard at an event doesn't always make it true. 

Here is an example of that:

Yesterday in Spearfish South Dakota, the Black Hills Regional Multiple Use Coalition hosted a meeting for the public titled "Wolf Extravaganza" to discuss wolves returning to their area. Keep in mind that NO wolf population exists in South Dakota, they sometimes get transients passing through (usually discovered when they kill one) but no breeding pairs have settled in the state. 

This event was free, open to the public, and highlighted a panel discussion with "experts" on the subject. 

Their list of "experts" were Jim Beers - former Minneapolis police officer and retired USFW Biologist.  Keith Fisk - South Dakota Game Fish and Park Wildlife Damage Administrator. Scott Becker - Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Coordinator for USFW.

Let's focus on Minnesota resident Jim Beers. There's a reason Jim Beers is never invited to speak on wolves at events like the International Wolf Symposium hosted by the International Wolf Center in Minnesota. You'll see why shortly.

Cascadia Wildlife addresses some of the issues with Jim Beers' education and opinions in We Need to Address Wolf Myths and Hatreds Head On - Stand With Us. Please read it, it's enlightening. 

One quote from their page "he became a wildlife biologist before population ecology, genetics, and biochemistry were regularly taught or required."

Here is some of what Jim Beers' has had to say at other events: 

JB: "Wolves killed a lot of American Indians and spread a lot of disease, including smallpox."
FACT: wolves once numbered over a million and covered nearly all of the land in the northern hemisphere.  They co-existed with American Indians for thousands of years without issue.  Europeans brought and caused the spread of smallpox in the Americas.

JB: "Countries that allowed wolves to persist don't have an advanced civilization now - they're like Africa." 
FACT: Africa is a continent not a country.  Canada supports the 2nd largest wolf population in the world. Estimated at 60,000.  

No need to even address the "advanced civilization" comment. 

JB: "There are wolves in 21 states now. Kids can't go camping or fishing without thinking twice."
FACT: There are gray wolves (Canis lupus) in 10 states; Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. 

Mexican Gray Wolves, Canis lupus baileyi aka el lobo is a unique subspecies of the gray wolf and exists in 2 states; Arizona and New Mexico. 

Red Wolves, Canis Rufus, is the worlds most endangered canid and is not a gray wolf.  Red Wolves exist in 1 state; North Carolina. 

Minnesota has an estimated 2,655 wolves and children go camping and fishing in wolf country all the time without issue. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area gets an estimated 200,000 visitors per year who enjoy canoeing, camping, and fishing.  The BWCA is part of wolf territory. 


You can read the rest of some of Jim Beers other comments from his presentation at Boise State University in 2011 HERE.

Naturalist Norm Bishop  took notes on some other things Jim Beers had to say at an event on wolves in Bozeman, Montana. See notes HERE 

Example:



One of the quotes to earn Jim Beers a lot of attention is this one Taken from DailyKos and Boise Weekly

"Fish and wildlife doesn't want to manage the land or the wildlife," said Beers. "Once they started hiring women and minorities, the service went from managing the land and wildlife to saving all the animals and habitats." 

In 2011 he made that statement at an event hosted by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Idaho Outfitters and Guides.  They were presenting to students and activists. He also said "wolves have no place in the Endangered Species Act because they are nothing but dogs and don't let anyone tell you different." 

So we now know he has a problem with women, minorities, and wolves.

And this man lives in Minnesota, worked for the Minneapolis Police Dept, plus spent 30 years working for US Fish & Wildlife!!! Scary! 

Wolf advocates should never assume that the opinions of people like Jim Beers are not reaching easily influenced minds. The man lives in his bubble of willful ignorance and attends events that strokes everyones bias but there will be one or two people in that crowd who are truly there to be educated so it's important for wolf advocates to attend these types of events to get ahead of the lies that could play a role in future wildlife management. We need to talk about what they (people like Jim Beers) are saying, post about it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc... to let everyone know this is not ok and make sure they know the facts. Wildlife management should be based on scientific fact, common sense, and compassion NOT on the biased opinion of former USFW employees and people like him. 

https://www.wolf.org/wow/canada/

https://nywolf.org/learn/u-s-wolf-populations/
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/health-and-human-body/human-diseases/smallpox/
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/04/mexican-gray-wolf-and-red-wolves-are-unique/
https://lenapeprograms.info/health/smallpox/