Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf Scientist?

Source:  New York Times

By Christopher Solomon

When we met last fall, Wielgus, who is 61, wasn’t wearing his bush hat, however, but a straw cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes. He was, he explained, in disguise. We had rendezvoused in Republic, a faded former mining town of about a thousand people in the northeastern part of Washington State. Stores wore boomtown facades to tempt passing drivers and their dollars to linger. But this was mid-October: Pickup trucks throttled past on the main drag, hauling hay and firewood for a winter that would slump down from Canada any day.

Wielgus had spent years in the surrounding woods doing research, and he loved the area. Now he considered it hostile territory. Before he pushed through the swinging doors of a bar, he paused and lifted an untucked shirt to show me the black handle of a .357 handgun poking from the front pocket of his jeans. “Too many death threats,” he said. “I never started carrying this till I started studying wolves.”

Rob Wielgus  Credit Ilona Szwarc for The New York Times

Not long ago, Wielgus was a respected researcher at Washington State University in Pullman, in the far eastern part of the state, with his own prosperous lab and several graduate students under his guidance. His specialty was North American apex predators — mountain lions and bears. Over a 35-year career, Wielgus has published surprising research about how these animals behave, especially once their paths cross with civilization. Unlike some wildlife research, which can be esoteric, Wielgus’s work by its nature has concrete, real-world implications. And Wielgus, by his nature, hasn’t been shy about emerging from academia to tell wildlife managers, ranchers and politicians exactly how they have screwed up and why they should pay more attention to him and his findings. He is accustomed to being the least-popular man in the room.



4 replies »

  1. Have read about Professor Wielgus several times AND the killing of the Profanity Pack. My feeling is if he becomes emotional about whats being done to these animals – why wouldnt he be ? It appears that the State was partially to blame, in that they could have told the rancher to move the salt licks AND the cattle to another area! The bottom line is just the same as with almost any predator and many prey animals (wild horses). Removing the leaders of a pack or a herd throws the entire unit into disarray. Why is that such a difficult thing to comprehend? Certainly at this point in time – in this country – same thing is happening!!!!!
    The thing is – as GG and many others have said for years – the grazing program is outdated to say the least – and its time for a change!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Privately owned domestic livestock do not belong on public lands (welfare ranching) and from what I could tell from reading the article, the wolves that were killed were living on public lands. Not only do I care about the survival of the wolves, I care about our public lands.

    “What can be done to address the problems associated with public lands livestock grazing? There is a simple answer: end it. Get the cows and sheep off, let the wild creatures reclaim their native habitat, and send the ranchers a bill for the cost of restoration.


    • Grandma Gregg they allow humans to gather at Burning Man festivities and dedicate everywhere on actual LANDS this year they are actually asking that they poop and per in Bags, plastic bags…..they don’t care about the public lands or we wouldn’t have had Burning Defication Man Festival as I now call it. They have a handful of porta potties, they remove innocent horses, suggested shooting and openly slaughtering them and obviously believe all the ranching movies where the Wolves are always the BaD Guys. They do not care about public lands by giving cheap LEASES to ranchers to overpack cattle which have high methane levels and destroy sage grouse habitat which they blame on anyone but the actual cattle. The BLM are NOT managers they know less about managing than a fellow off the streets of New York City. No seriously, there are people who can run ranches and manage land better in New York than the idiots in charge of actual public lands. As for being afraid of the Big BAd Scientists. Keep calling it as you see it, were listening. We don’t pull away from the truth we support it!

      Liked by 1 person

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