June 2, 2023

For Whom the Toll Taking Tolls

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ElkHerdI’m sure some will consider this short piece being a bit picky but consider, if you would or should or can, that the choice of words in any document can certainly contribute to the propagandizing of the public and their ideas about certain things. For that reason alone, it must needs to offer a better explanation of choice words. (Yes, I do it too!)

In question is an article about Yellowstone National Park wolves and the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd. Think what you will about the accuracy of the reporting overall. Frankly, I don’t care as few know the difference, nor do they care. In addition, more than likely anything I write here will do nothing to mitigate the years of biased and ignorant reporting on wolf and elk issues.

In addition, I do not know the writer in question. I know nothing about him. I don’t know how he feels about wolves, elk, hunting, Yellowstone or the price of peanuts. Perhaps his intent was to help form more negative opinions about hunters and hunting. Or maybe it was just a careless choice of words. I’ll let you decide.

The writer of the article states the following: “Also taking a toll on the herd have been hunters, other predators and harsh winters.”(emphasis added)

The report is about what appears to be an increase in the population of elk in the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd. There is even an intimation that the elk numbers went up because the wolf numbers went down. God forbid such a connection be made!

But let me focus, nitpickingly, on the use of the writer’s words “And also taking a toll….” In having a basic understanding of the English language, and I think I do, I know from reading the article that the writer must believe that wolves are “taking a toll” because he claims there are “also” others “taking a toll.” I suppose that’s progress to see and admit that?

But he names others “taking a toll” as being hunters, other predators and harsh winters.

Taking a toll can be defined in a dictionary as, “An amount or extent of loss or destruction, as of life, health, or property.” In perhaps 100% of the context in which the term “taking a toll” would be used would be in helping to describe the “extent of loss or destruction.” To those who might not suspect, this is NOT a good thing. The writer evidently can see that the reduction of elk in the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd from 20,000 to under 3,000, is an event that can be described as something “taking a toll.” More progress?

However, I would like to take a bit of an issue with the description that hunters are or have been “taking a toll” on the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd. Regulated hunting, generally speaking, does not “take a toll” on any game or wildlife population. Unless you plain hate hunting and hunters and then nothing would matter anyway to them. If poor management of elk and elk hunting caused the “taking a toll” on the elk, then those wildlife managers need to find a new job; maybe predicting more global warming would suit them. They seem to be well versed in how to use it as an excuse for everything.

Game managers today, employ methods where they can grow, reduce or maintain an existing population of animals, such as elk – well, that is providing there are any elk leftover after the wolves are done killing them all. This management plan has been visible since the illegal introduction of the gray wolf in 1995 and 1996, because of a continued reduction in hunting permits in those areas where wolves are present in too large numbers.

Hunters aren’t “taking a toll” on elk numbers because they are the ones being asked to make all the sacrifices while some play gOD with elk and wolves and others make statements in media outlets pointing a wrongful finger at hunters for “taking a toll.” No, wolves are taking a toll on hunting! Tough pill to swallow for some I know.

It’s pointless to discuss the ins and outs of whether “other predators” and “harsh winters,” along with those poor wolves, are what’s causing the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd to disappear. Wolves, lions, bears and all “other predators” aren’t regulated. They don’t have to cough up money or enter a lottery to get a permit to kill an elk. They just kill one anytime the urge strikes; and sometimes, just for the hell of it.

If there’s any toll taking that concerns hunters, it is that some writers, due to their unthoughtful, or not, choice of words, are taking a toll on us poor hunters. Time to give it rest. You got your damned wolves. Now, go way!