People ask, why have I changed?
A message from our dear friend and mentor, Carter Niemeyer…..
People ask why I have changed from the old Carter when it comes to my opinion about wild predators.
I lived my life as a hunter and trapper and made a career out of hunting and trapping skills. I watched and experienced a lot of predator killing in my life…. too much!
I changed because I lost my enthusiasm – killing predators was a Fool’s Errand! Based on a killing culture and tradition built on a history of predator persecution because it was the thing to do. Predators were in our way and competition……..
I thought it was based on a need to make things right, protect the food and fiber of this country, protect the prey species so the predators didn’t take too many and, it was the high road and macho thing to do.
Nearly 50 years later, I admit I was wrong about all of the premises I based my judgements on – predators cause a small percentage of livestock loss….. compared to other factors like weather, disease, birthing problems or the result of poison weeds, winter storms and the like. Livestock lost to predators are because of human negligence from not protecting livestock or being over-extended, not keeping an eye on the stock or securing them. Same goes for pets – leaving your dog vulnerable or sending the dog into predator occupied territory – forcing the dog to risk its life for your entertainment or negligence.
For elk herds in places like Idaho, Montana and Wyoming – it is the Golden Era for elk hunting – elk are higher in number today than 25 years ago when wolves were reintroduced. Comparing wolves to mountain lions and black bears….. lions and bears are more abundant and kill a greater number of elk calves than do wolves, yet the wolf is the fall guy.
The justification to kill is a need to control and manage the wolves, bears and mountain lions….. built on misinformation and anecdotal stories – IMO, dishonest, misguided and pretty much politically driven……
My 40 year professional career led me to different conclusions based on field experience and observations. It isn’t about saving the livestock industry or protecting big game…. it’s about subsidizing people’s negligence in some cases or about reinforcing lies that predators are reducing big game numbers, but mostly for human needs to trap, snare, or shoot predators….. recreationally or for some misguided notion that something positive comes from the killing.
I stopped believing in killing predators about 30 years ago and advocate for their welfare. We need them and they need us. The only shots I take now are with my cameras.
Wyoming Coyote: photographer and friend of Wyoming wildlife, Ashleigh Scully.