Austin Snedden, Ranching Contributor, Valley Ag Voice
Recently, at our County Cattlemen’s meeting, we heard from California Department of Fish and Wildlife representatives to discuss the wolf situation and its incursion further south into our state. Apparently, there is at least one wolf wandering around Tulare County. This one seems willing to set up shop in the area, different from the wandering wolf several years ago that vacationed on the Central Coast before wandering east and eventually ended up losing a fight with a vehicle on the Grapevine of Interstate 5.
The CADFW officials explained that if any of us cattlemen saw a wolf, we should report it to be tagged and monitored. No alternatives for management were given by the CADFW officials. I thought it would take longer than this for the wolves to get this far south, but it reminded me of several years ago when I attended a hearing when CADFW was considering listing the gray wolf as a California Endangered Species. The Hearing was held in the not-so-central location of Ventura, and one of the comment makers stated that she gave tours in Golden Gate Park, and it broke her heart to explain why the wolves were no longer there.
The sentiment of many regarding the wolf is a symptom of a greater illness affecting many and applicable to other parts of life. Apparently, what many of us have considered “natural instincts” are either not that natural, or something is happening to strip people of these natural instincts. Most of us in animal agriculture have an instinct toward animal husbandry that urges us to protect and provide care for animals even beyond the obvious economic motives. The instinct toward animal husbandry doesn’t even compare to the strong instincts that sensible people have for protecting their children or even defending innocent people who are not in their charge.
What we are seeing in state wildlife policy and state criminal policy is a symptom of the same illness, allowing apex predators to expand their territory and offer no plan for management. Whether it is the protection of the wolf, mountain lion, or bear — or the release of violent criminals from prison to walk among the productive, innocent folks — there is something causing policymakers to lose their God-given instincts. I don’t know if we can blame it all on a departure from nature and agrarian life, but I think a departure from nature and natural tasks may contribute to decisions that allow predators to become fortified and emboldened. Whether it is a lack of predator management causing the deer population to collapse or the release of felons to prey on innocent humans, a more urbanized society has created a policy that defies natural instincts.
My solution to predator policy and California criminal policy is a good mother cow. Urbanites, and especially policymakers, need to sit in the classroom under the instruction of a good mother cow. The good mother cow does not waste energy harassing the non-predators when she is tending her baby, but if a predator comes in the vicinity of her calf, she will defend it with all she has. I think the observation of natural instincts has been lost to those trapped in the urban jungle, and they aren’t influenced by nature to develop a proper worldview. Cows don’t have perfect ethics, but when we have come to a point where I would trust a cow more than a human, it may be time for some folks to learn from the cows.