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Wolves are not terrrorists

By Gary Wockner, member
Colorado Wolf Working Group

When I was last up in Yellowstone, I stood with my two young daughters overlooking the rendezvous site of the “Druid Pack” of wolves. We were privileged – honored even – to see this pack briefly chase two bull elk, and then after the pack’s unsuccessful chase, they returned to the rendezvous site and frolicked in the Lamar Valley in full view of my family.

My children watched with wide eyes and open minds. The delicate dance of predator and prey is truly one of nature’s most astounding scenes.

And now, as one of the 14 members of the Colorado Wolf Working Group, I am also privileged and honored to serve the Colorado Division of Wildlife by helping them write a sane and responsible management plan for wolves in Colorado. Our Working Group is making extraordinary, bi-partisan progress towards a plan of which I firmly believe all Coloradoans – Republicans and Democrats alike – will be proud.

And so it is with a very heavy heart that I recently viewed a TV advertisement put out by President Bush which equates the Sept. 11th terrorist attacts against the U.S. with a presence of wolves across the American landscape. This ad – unveiled across the country on Friday, October 22 – can be seen on the President’s website ( ). Click on: “Wolves TV Ad.”

As the ad begins, the scene is of a natural forest, but the music is ominous and the voice-over says we live in a “dangerous world.” A second later, we see a glimpse of a wolf in the forest. The ad continues with talk of the “terrorist attacks on America,” while continuing the ominous music and showing another glimpse of a wolf. And then the ad shows a full picture of a wolf pack sitting in the grass at the edge of a meadow.

The voice-over says, “Weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm,” and then the wolves stand and begin stalking towards the camera. The ad finishes with a picture of President Bush in which he says, “I’m George W. Bush, and I approve this message.”

During these last days of the election, it is one thing for these candidates to attack each other, but it is quite another to turn this disgusting wrath against the benevolent natural world around us. This land and its wildlife support our American culture in every single way – they provide the food, shelter, recreational opportunities and awe that sustains us.

I can only imagine what inspired this ad and I can only imagine what will come next: a Democratic ad showing Senator Kerry symbolically shooting a hawk out of the sky? or a Republican ad showing President Bush symbolically plucking doves off a high wire with a shotgun? How far down will this election reach?

I know about wolves. I wrote my Ph.D. on wolves and I’ve spent a considerable number of years studying their role on the American landscape and culture. Wolves are natural. Wolves are one of God’s creatures. Wolves do what every inhabitant on this planet does – provide for themselves amidst the complex world in which we all live.

I have a friend who was on the fifth floor of Tower One on Sept. 11th. He and some of the widows of his colleagues know exactly what terrorists look like. They do not look like wolves. Endangered wildlife are not our nation's enemy.

I have not shown this advertisement to my children. And I won’t. I attempt, for the time being, to shield them from the uglier side of America. They still have wide eyes and an open mind about the world and all its inhabitants. I won't let them watch TV for the next week, for on TV dance predators and prey of a different sort.

Gary Wockner ( is a writer and wildlife ecologist in Fort Collins, Colo.

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