Wolf Slaughter Is Not American
“Fed Up in Wyoming” reads the caption under this stunning photograph posted on a hunter's Facebook page (reproduced here under Fair Use). The photo is yet more evidence that, two years after political reactionaries led a successful campaign in the House of Representatives and then the Senate to remove the North Rocky Mountain gray wolf from the endangered species list, the slaughter of wolves continues to escalate as wolf hunters fall deeper in their paranoid fantasy that the wolf represents a liberal conspiracy against rural communities.
The Facebook page that originally posted the image belongs to two Wyoming hunting outfitters, Colby and Codi Gines. The Gines run CG Wilderness Adventures, headquartered in a highly remote part of Wyoming’s Bridger Teton National Forest, bordering on the southeast section of Yellowstone National Park. “Wyoming is God’s country, and we invite you to come see it for yourself,” says the Gines’ website.
Their invitation evidently does not extend to wolves. Driven extinct in most of the continental U.S. in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the wolf returned to the American landscape in 1995, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 66 wolves captured in the Canadian Rockies to Central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. Conservationists saw as the return of the wolf as a crowning accomplishment to renew the wilderness, and millions of Americans came to celebrate the wolf's comeback. But by 2009 a virulent opposition movement opposed to the wolf had formed. Made up of hunters and outfitters, ranchers, and far-right groups, these forces coalesced around a cultural mythology in which wolves became demons—disease ridden, dangerous foreign invaders—who served as icons of the hated federal government. (Read Cry Wolf, our in-depth report on this issue.)
With the Klan-like hoods and the ostentatious display of the American flag, the photo is a glimpse into the mentality of those behind the anti-wolf campaign. There is, apparently, a cohort of people who view the destruction of wild nature as something to be celebrated, something quintessentially America. They are play acting at both patriotism and rebellion. And, in their play-acting, they reveal a great deal about the paranoid fantasies that have gripped some people in the age of Obama.
The Facebook comments following the photo are especially revealing. Among those who LIKE this page is Sportsmen Against Wolves, a group whose “About” statement is, “Sportsmen against illegally introduced Canadian Gray Wolves.” Here's one wolf-killing friend, J. Weeks, commenting on the photo: “Kill all federally funded terrorists. ”
To some, the reintroduction of wolves represents Washington’s treason against civilization itself: “Yet another brilliant bleeding heart program…reestablish the bloodthirsty critter that every civilization from the dawn of time has tried to eliminate,” says Johnny W. To Sarah H., the wolf killing is just self-defense: “I imagine they don’t want any wolfies to come after them or their families!” Then Haines complained that only one had been killed—there “should be a pile of them tho!”
The white hoods, with their echoes of Jim Crow-era terrorism, were actually celebrated by some commenters. “Redneck KKK” wrote Austin T. One fan, Julia G., argued that the wolf hunters should be more brazen, posting, “Next time they go full REGALIA.”
For their part, the Gines prefer to call the hoods the sign of “Vigilantes,” a way of “Trying to make a statement!...Frontier Justice! Wyoming hunters are fed up!” John P. concurred, “Yeehaw...looks like modern day Wyoming rangers taking care of business!!!!!”
Some commenters suggested that the wolf hunters wore hoods to protect themselves from government persecution. One supporter of masked men posted, “I fully understand the masks…Keep on killing guys.”
It would seem that wolf hunting is the wildlife version of George Zimmerman's vigilantism—self appointed keepers of order waging a battle against an imaginary enemy.
Or maybe it's worse, and the wolf hunters with their KKK masks are more like shades of Timothy McVeigh. The cammo gear, the rifles—it’s as if the wolf hunters were fighting a guerrilla war against Washington. As if they were worried that at any moment a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service black helicopter would swoop down and a SWAT team emerge, assault rifles blazing.
But it's a phony rebellion against a phantom menace. The wolves aren't actually any danger to people or much of a threat to ranchers' livestock. And the U.S. government permits them to be killed. There's no real transgression here requiring a mask. It's all theater meant to self-impress.
In April, 2011, the House and Senate sponsored a “rider” on a federal budget bill that removed gray wolves in the Northern Rockies from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Here's the very long story in short: Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) faced a rough challenge in the 2012 Montana election, and sacrificing wolves as expendable was deemed politically expedient to win the race. Wolf hunts renewed in Idaho and Montana that fall. Legal challenges by environmental groups against the delisting failed.
Wyoming took until 2012 to win full federal approval for a plan to declare the lands near Yellowstone a “trophy zone” with wolf quotas. In most of the state, wolves can be killed year round without limits. The Gines’ hunting operation is in “Wolf Hunt Area 3.” In late October they reported killing two wolves, filling its quota of three wolves (one had been hunted earlier). Whether the wolf in this photo is one of the three legally killed is not known.
The Northern Rockies have become an unsupervised playpen for reactionaries to act out warrior fantasies against demonic wolves, coastal elites and idiotic environmentalists—the members of these latter two categories being “two-legged” wolves. The sheer extremity of the hatred shown to wolves, and the bizarre juxtaposition of the KKK-like hoods and American flag, plainly expose this movement for what it is: a scapegoating of the wolves by men and women who have succumbed to their own rage against imagined enemies. And while the failure of federal, state and local political leaders to denounce the anti-wolf movement illuminates their moral failure, history offers encouraging instances of public indignation creating change from below.
Take, as just one example, the eventual take-down of Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI). After years of cynical Red-baiting, including accusing high ranking military and intelligence officials of treason, McCarthy was eventually brought to a kind of justice. McCarthy accused the U.S. Army of harboring Communists and, in June 1954, in the course of a televised Senate investigation of the Army-McCarthy conflict, McCarthy accused a young lawyer working for Army counsel, Joseph Welch, of being affiliated with communism. After McCarthy repeatedly pressed his accusations, Welch savaged McCarthy: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Welch’s indignation broke the spell McCarthy had cast upon the nation and ended his political career.
Perhaps this latest wolf snuff photo will bring a similar kind of justice and force the public to declare, in no uncertain terms, that wolf killing is un-American. Maybe it will force people to ask: when will this indecent killing come to an end?
A rare yellow penguin has been photographed for what is believed to be the first time.
- World-Renowned Photographer Documents Most Remote ... ›
- This Penguin Colony Has Fallen by 77% on Antarctic Islands ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Stuart Braun
We spend 90% of our time in the buildings where we live and work, shop and conduct business, in the structures that keep us warm in winter and cool in summer.
But immense energy is required to source and manufacture building materials, to power construction sites, to maintain and renew the built environment. In 2019, building operations and construction activities together accounted for 38% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, the highest level ever recorded.
- Could IKEA's New Tiny House Help Fight the Climate Crisis ... ›
- Los Angeles City-Owned Buildings to Go 100% Carbon Free ... ›
- New Jersey Will Be First State to Require Building Permits to ... ›
By Eric Tate and Christopher Emrich
Disasters stemming from hazards like floods, wildfires, and disease often garner attention because of their extreme conditions and heavy societal impacts. Although the nature of the damage may vary, major disasters are alike in that socially vulnerable populations often experience the worst repercussions. For example, we saw this following Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, each of which generated widespread physical damage and outsized impacts to low-income and minority survivors.
Mapping Social Vulnerability<p>Figure 1a is a typical map of social vulnerability across the United States at the census tract level based on the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) algorithm of <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1540-6237.8402002" target="_blank"><em>Cutter et al.</em></a> . Spatial representation of the index depicts high social vulnerability regionally in the Southwest, upper Great Plains, eastern Oklahoma, southern Texas, and southern Appalachia, among other places. With such a map, users can focus attention on select places and identify population characteristics associated with elevated vulnerabilities.</p>
Fig. 1. (a) Social vulnerability across the United States at the census tract scale is mapped here following the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI). Red and pink hues indicate high social vulnerability. (b) This bivariate map depicts social vulnerability (blue hues) and annualized per capita hazard losses (pink hues) for U.S. counties from 2010 to 2019.<p>Many current indexes in the United States and abroad are direct or conceptual offshoots of SoVI, which has been widely replicated [e.g., <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13753-016-0090-9" target="_blank"><em>de Loyola Hummell et al.</em></a>, 2016]. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) <a href="https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/placeandhealth/svi/index.html" target="_blank">has also developed</a> a commonly used social vulnerability index intended to help local officials identify communities that may need support before, during, and after disasters.</p><p>The first modeling and mapping efforts, starting around the mid-2000s, largely focused on describing spatial distributions of social vulnerability at varying geographic scales. Over time, research in this area came to emphasize spatial comparisons between social vulnerability and physical hazards [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-009-9376-1" target="_blank"><em>Wood et al.</em></a>, 2010], modeling population dynamics following disasters [<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11111-008-0072-y" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Myers et al.</em></a>, 2008], and quantifying the robustness of social vulnerability measures [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-012-0152-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tate</em></a>, 2012].</p><p>More recent work is beginning to dissolve barriers between social vulnerability and environmental justice scholarship [<a href="https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304846" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Chakraborty et al.</em></a>, 2019], which has traditionally focused on root causes of exposure to pollution hazards. Another prominent new research direction involves deeper interrogation of social vulnerability drivers in specific hazard contexts and disaster phases (e.g., before, during, after). Such work has revealed that interactions among drivers are important, but existing case studies are ill suited to guiding development of new indicators [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2015.09.013" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Rufat et al.</em></a>, 2015].</p><p>Advances in geostatistical analyses have enabled researchers to characterize interactions more accurately among social vulnerability and hazard outcomes. Figure 1b depicts social vulnerability and annualized per capita hazard losses for U.S. counties from 2010 to 2019, facilitating visualization of the spatial coincidence of pre‑event susceptibilities and hazard impacts. Places ranked high in both dimensions may be priority locations for management interventions. Further, such analysis provides invaluable comparisons between places as well as information summarizing state and regional conditions.</p><p>In Figure 2, we take the analysis of interactions a step further, dividing counties into two categories: those experiencing annual per capita losses above or below the national average from 2010 to 2019. The differences among individual race, ethnicity, and poverty variables between the two county groups are small. But expressing race together with poverty (poverty attenuated by race) produces quite different results: Counties with high hazard losses have higher percentages of both impoverished Black populations and impoverished white populations than counties with low hazard losses. These county differences are most pronounced for impoverished Black populations.</p>
Fig. 2. Differences in population percentages between counties experiencing annual per capita losses above or below the national average from 2010 to 2019 for individual and compound social vulnerability indicators (race and poverty).<p>Our current work focuses on social vulnerability to floods using geostatistical modeling and mapping. The research directions are twofold. The first is to develop hazard-specific indicators of social vulnerability to aid in mitigation planning [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-020-04470-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tate et al.</em></a>, 2021]. Because natural hazards differ in their innate characteristics (e.g., rate of onset, spatial extent), causal processes (e.g., urbanization, meteorology), and programmatic responses by government, manifestations of social vulnerability vary across hazards.</p><p>The second is to assess the degree to which socially vulnerable populations benefit from the leading disaster recovery programs [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/17477891.2019.1675578" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Emrich et al.</em></a>, 2020], such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) <a href="https://www.fema.gov/individual-disaster-assistance" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Individual Assistance</a> program and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) <a href="https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/cdbg-dr/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Disaster Recovery</a> program. Both research directions posit social vulnerability indicators as potential measures of social equity.</p>
Social Vulnerability as a Measure of Equity<p>Given their focus on social marginalization and economic barriers, social vulnerability indicators are attracting growing scientific interest as measures of inequity resulting from disasters. Indeed, social vulnerability and inequity are related concepts. Social vulnerability research explores the differential susceptibilities and capacities of disaster-affected populations, whereas social equity analyses tend to focus on population disparities in the allocation of resources for hazard mitigation and disaster recovery. Interventions with an equity focus emphasize full and equal resource access for all people with unmet disaster needs.</p><p>Yet newer studies of inequity in disaster programs have documented troubling disparities in income, race, and home ownership among those who <a href="https://eos.org/articles/equity-concerns-raised-in-federal-flood-property-buyouts" target="_blank">participate in flood buyout programs</a>, are <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063477407" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eligible for postdisaster loans</a>, receive short-term recovery assistance [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.102010" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Drakes et al.</em></a>, 2021], and have <a href="https://www.texastribune.org/2020/08/25/texas-natural-disasters--mental-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">access to mental health services</a>. For example, a recent analysis of federal flood buyouts found racial privilege to be infused at multiple program stages and geographic scales, resulting in resources that disproportionately benefit whiter and more urban counties and neighborhoods [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/2378023120905439" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Elliott et al.</em></a>, 2020].</p><p>Investments in disaster risk reduction are largely prioritized on the basis of hazard modeling, historical impacts, and economic risk. Social equity, meanwhile, has been far less integrated into the considerations of public agencies for hazard and disaster management. But this situation may be beginning to shift. Following the adage of "what gets measured gets managed," social equity metrics are increasingly being inserted into disaster management.</p><p>At the national level, FEMA has <a href="https://www.fema.gov/news-release/20200220/fema-releases-affordability-framework-national-flood-insurance-program" target="_blank">developed options</a> to increase the affordability of flood insurance [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2018]. At the subnational scale, Puerto Rico has integrated social vulnerability into its CDBG Mitigation Action Plan, expanding its considerations of risk beyond only economic factors. At the local level, Harris County, Texas, has begun using social vulnerability indicators alongside traditional measures of flood risk to introduce equity into the prioritization of flood mitigation projects [<a href="https://www.hcfcd.org/Portals/62/Resilience/Bond-Program/Prioritization-Framework/final_prioritization-framework-report_20190827.pdf?ver=2019-09-19-092535-743" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Harris County Flood Control District</em></a>, 2019].</p><p>Unfortunately, many existing measures of disaster equity fall short. They may be unidimensional, using single indicators such as income in places where underlying vulnerability processes suggest that a multidimensional measure like racialized poverty (Figure 2) would be more valid. And criteria presumed to be objective and neutral for determining resource allocation, such as economic loss and cost-benefit ratios, prioritize asset value over social equity. For example, following the <a href="http://www.cedar-rapids.org/discover_cedar_rapids/flood_of_2008/2008_flood_facts.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2008 flooding</a> in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, cost-benefit criteria supported new flood protections for the city's central business district on the east side of the Cedar River but not for vulnerable populations and workforce housing on the west side.</p><p>Furthermore, many equity measures are aspatial or ahistorical, even though the roots of marginalization may lie in systemic and spatially explicit processes that originated long ago like redlining and urban renewal. More research is thus needed to understand which measures are most suitable for which social equity analyses.</p>
Challenges for Disaster Equity Analysis<p>Across studies that quantify, map, and analyze social vulnerability to natural hazards, modelers have faced recurrent measurement challenges, many of which also apply in measuring disaster equity (Table 1). The first is clearly establishing the purpose of an equity analysis by defining characteristics such as the end user and intended use, the type of hazard, and the disaster stage (i.e., mitigation, response, or recovery). Analyses using generalized indicators like the CDC Social Vulnerability Index may be appropriate for identifying broad areas of concern, whereas more detailed analyses are ideal for high-stakes decisions about budget allocations and project prioritization.</p>
By Jessica Corbett
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday was the lone progressive to vote against Tom Vilsack reprising his role as secretary of agriculture, citing concerns that progressive advocacy groups have been raising since even before President Joe Biden officially nominated the former Obama administration appointee.