March 24, 2023

Do You Realize Now What You Have Done?

I saw the vacant animal trails furrowing down the ridge from the horizon worn from the elk streaming single file in jagged rows, shrouded in a cloud of steam and spreading out across Deckard Flats like ants from a hill. My friend, Robert T. Fanning, Founder of Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, described how it was twenty years ago. Horsemen decked with orange riding in as the minute of pre-dawn came and the first shots of the season brought down the first bull elk of a hunting culture passed down since the earliest days of the western frontier. We were alone, except for a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MTFWP) Warden, there as a matter of bureaucratic habit to make sure no shots were fired before thirty minutes before sunrise-his presence unnecessary. There were no elk to harvest, no swarms of hunters to fire.

When MTFWP announced the closure of Deckard Flats to hunting a few days later, it was the most drastic bureaucratic admission yet of the failure of the experimental introduction a non-native species of wolf into the Northern Rocky Mountain ecosystem done by a public/private partnership twenty years ago. The recent question asked by Russian President Vladimir Putin crossed my mind. “Do you realize now what you have done?”

Source: Do You Realize Now What You Have Done?