Controversy - Blessed Controversy!

Controversy: Debate; Dispute (courtesy Thorndike Barhart Comprehensive Desk Dictionary).

Without controversy we would probably never have reached our current 'heights' in technology, pharmacology, psychology, theology and so on (although we may someday view some of our progress as regress)! No doubt, without 'debates' we would have been content to maintain the status quo. However, someone always manages to come along and poke at our comfortable repose - and, in the positive sense, get our brain cells clanging around which, if all goes as it should, leads to positive improvements in the things which make our lives 'comfortable'.

On the other hand, wars would cease if it were not for our disputes. In good 'fence riding' fashion, I will tiptoe around that hot spot and dive into what I consider to be safer ground - even though I highly doubt it is less of a 'topic' for many.

Since most of the time I am surrounded more by nature and its issues, I am not surprised my view of 'controversy' is more colored by animals than wars. Not to raise them to a pedastal for which they were not made, but these issues are important too - especially the clash between human interests and animal interests.

After all, this is the springboard for animal rights groups. Lest I be misunderstood, that isn't where this is headed. Although I would be in the front lines to stop animal brutality, I don't put animals and humans on the same level. If I were forced to take the life of an animal to save the life of a child, it would pain me severly, but I'd do so.

To the point. Take the environmental movement. Many in this growing 'class' work with serious dedication and hard work to return our planet to what they envision it was in the past. Their efforts have saved many beautiful and valuable places from over-development and explotation. For that I applaud them.

However, I believe there are those who take things to the extreme. I'm referencing, for example, those who feel the wolf has a right to be wherever - whenever. In other words, wild creatures by their very definition deserve the right to do as they please with no consequences whatsoever (except what another natural aspect should wish to impose on them).

No human interference. While this may sound practical - in the sense of protecting the wolf - it certainly flies in the face of those who make try to make a living without 'feeding' the wolf.

I speak of ranchers. Oddly enough, most folks I visit with do not see the rancher as an environmentalist. Nevertheless, much of the land we now enjoy - those wide open spaces which bring us a taste of what it used to be like - exists because of this hardy breed. By the way, the Centennial Valley is a PERFECT example.

It is the rancher who has kept the west from being developed as rapidly as the east. It is the rancher who has protected and preserved and provided for the land - purely and simply (sometimes) because he would loose his livelihood without it. It is the rancher who has held off the developer - often the great exploiter of the land.

Yet for all his hard work, not only does he not receive the credit he is due, but he is often slapped with the label of 'wolf-killer'. Case in point: "The Loop" by Nicholas Evans. Although I enjoyed portions of this book immensely, Evans paints the rancher with the broad (and politically correct) brush. He's shortsighted, money-grubbing, and environmentally destructive - if he perceives it as being in his best interest.

Books like this, I believe, despite the good they may do in providing a 'postive' outlook on a feared (and thus endangered) animal, have put the rancher in the position of defending himself (as well as his livestock) against the wolf - or more specifically - against those who see the wolf's side of the equation but fail to see the rancher's side.

I'm not advocating a free-for-all wolf killing spree. I agree, this beautiful creature has a right to exist on the planet. But what I believe sets me apart from many who would agree with that statement is: I believe there is greater value in a human life than in a wolf's life. Lest I be painted with that broad (and currently politically correct) brush let me clarify my point.

Wolves have a right to exist wherever and whenever they choose, as long as it is not endangering the life of a human. I also agree we must exercise great restraint in the expansion of development to prevent pushing them into a 'too small to survive' location. However, as in the case of the rancher, we - as humans - must be allowed the right to defend ourselves (and our livestock or our families) against a wolf.

Wolves are top of the food chain predators. They have NO enemies except man. While I'm certainly not advocating broad scale wolf killing, there are cases where a rancher must do what a rancher must do. Sadly enough, there are some out there which just don't see it that way. For them the wolf is sacred.

Another case in point (and closer to home): the man who sat in my dining room and condemned me when he found out - through the course of our conversation - that if I saw a wolf stalking my (then 3 year old) son, I would kill it. In the end I think it all boiled down to point of view.

Like I told him - yes, my son probably has no more intrinsic value to you than that wolf (although he should). However, were that your son out there, I would hope you would find enough love and parental fidelity in your heart to protect your son, even if it meant taking the life of such a beautiful and wild animal.

It's all in your perspective - and so the controversy will continue.

Lady of the Lake
PS - The beautify photo of the Hayden Pack is courtesy of our good friend, Gary!

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