Everybody here in Jackson Hole, Wyoming loves the scenery. They love much of the wildlife as well. As long as it’s simply eating grass from a field, they can’t get enough of it. On many occasions, these people even feed many of the more docile wildlife that wander around town: moose; deer; elk; even foxes. Why? Maybe the general population thinks it’s cute to feed a deer. Maybe they feel sorry for it in the winter. It’s even government policy to artificially feed the elk in the National Elk Refuge every winter. Whatever the case, people are overjoyed at having non-aggressive mammals show up to their house, as if they’ve adopted a wild pet. Yet their actions have a consequence that they apparently haven’t bridged a connection to yet. With a growing population of deer and other herbivores around their property, they attract predatory species since there is practically a buffet for these animals to choose from. Once one of these predator species steps foot onto someone’s property, complaints pour in almost as quickly as the deer they continue to feed. In the most recent instance, it’s even just innocent predators scoping out new territory that overstay their three-day welcome in the eyes of some residents.
I can’t help but wonder why anyone would live in a location where wildlife has more right to roam than they have to put up a house, yet insist on kicking out the animals that they don’t approve of. I suppose it’s been the American way since 1492 – take over as much land as you can and only allow back in those you approve of. Every year, black bears are called to be removed from more rural neighborhoods. Earlier this winter, a mountain lion and her three kittens were (almost unsuccessfully) moved because deer were (are still?) habitually fed. Now people aren’t happy with just removing curious wolves from a neighborhood – they’re to be exterminated like cockroaches. None of these instances have had any consequences, yet people just don’t like seeing animals in their property that have more right to be there than they do. They don’t like having to take any more responsibility for their actions than is absolutely necessary. It’s like nature’s trying to remind them of what it means to really be in touch with nature, but their self-defense mechanism kicks in and does everything it can to silence the critics before they can realize what their critics are even trying to tell them. Nevermind that just about every one of these people will go driving, hiking, and in some cases, hunting, into wolves’ and bears’ homes. The thought of a predator visiting their home, however, is unthinkable, or to quote the Wyoming Game and Fish, “inappropriate,” as if these wolves should know better. It’s hypocrisy like this that makes me want to fight even harder for wolves to have more protection; to give nature the chance it deserves to live harmoniously with humans and vice versa. Yet as long as there are people who are trying to exterminate everything about Jackson Hole that makes it wild while trying to cope with the nature that they blindly claim to love, the balance of nature will remain upset.
You either love all of nature or you don’t love any of it, and until people learn this, nature will always remain unbalanced because you can’t play favorites with something you claim to love. It’s like saying you love your child, but don’t really care for the head or legs. You can’t love deer and moose and then hate wolves. Living with wolves, or even just accepting them as a part of the landscape goes a long way in living in such abundant nature as Jackson Hole has to offer. You don’t have to completely love wolves and nature, but learning to live with it properly and taking necessary precautions will work tremendously even in other wild places, or places such as Jackson Hole that are still clinging to the last bit of wild it has left. If that’s too much to ask, then you should consider moving to a big city because you’re only hurting the wilderness you think you love. You can then come back and take a wildlife tour and see predators safely from the car window as you drive into their home.