When nine calves went missing this spring from a ranch in the remote and rugged mountains of Idaho, cattleman Lonell Wilson picked up his rifle and went looking for the culprits.
What he found were two gray wolves, a male and a female, sunning themselves in a clearing. So he shot them.
"Basically, I took care of the problem," Wilson said.
Wilson is among more than a dozen livestock producers in Idaho who have hunted down wolves that attacked their cattle or sheep this year. He is among countless ranchers who say the wolves aren't wanted, dead or alive.
"They don't belong anywhere in this state and I don't know anyone in this country who will say otherwise," Wilson said.
Wolves have been at the center of controversy in the northern Rocky Mountains since the federal government released 66 of the animals into the wilds of Idaho and Yellowstone National Park more than a decade ago.
The hope was that the threatened creatures, targets of extermination campaigns in the early 1900s that pushed them to near-extinction, would re-establish themselves.
They have. Wildlife officials estimate 1,200 now roam over parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, a result of protections afforded them under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Wolves are revered in the Native American culture that once dominated the Rockies and today tourists flock to Yellowstone hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive creatures.
Yet the region's powerful agriculture industry is vehemently opposed to the wolves' presence.
Now US fish and wildlife officials are poised to lift protections on wolves in Idaho and Montana in coming months, a move that will prompt those states to open hunting seasons on an enduring symbol of the US West and allow game officers to kill wolves that cause declines in elk and deer populations.
Anti-wolf campaigners say pack-thinning measures are long overdue. They argue wolves are attacking livestock and pets with impunity and have reduced prized big-game herds.
Opponents argue that removing federal protections will result in a free-for-all.
The debate over wolves has risen to fever pitch in Idaho, where some residents are still bitter about what they describe as the federal government's high-handedness in foisting deadly predators on them.
The anti-wolf lobby talk of widely supported state legislation that called on wolves to be immediately removed by whatever means necessary.
"What you have are wolves eating in mass and breeding in packs and killing everything in sight," said Tim Sundles of Salmon.
Sundles is well known among the state's anti-wolf activists for establishing a Web site that offers advice on how to successfully poison wolves.
He is scheduled to appear in federal court in December to face charges he tried to kill wolves by leaving poison-laced meatballs in a national forest north of Salmon.
Under pressure from ranchers and hunters, the federal government in January gave Idaho and Montana more authority to manage their wolf populations.
Under the measure, the two states have more leeway to kill wolves that even think about harassing livestock.
Provided they gain US Fish and Wildlife Service's approval, hunters can pick off packs that prey on struggling big game herds.
Since then, officials have shot a record number of wolves in the two states -- 71 this year, compared with 51 last year.
Wildlife managers say the rising wolf population naturally results in more conflicts between wolves and livestock but critics say the killing illustrates the problem of leaving wolf management solely in state hands.
"The discussions here are not about wolf conservation but about wolf control," said Suzanne Stone, northern Rockies representative with Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental organization.
In Idaho, where anti-wolf sentiments tend to be expressed in concert with anti-government views, the conflict shows no sign of quieting.
"It's interesting that wolves generate so much polarity," said Brad Compton, big game manager with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. "No other wildlife generates this kind of extreme reaction -- on both sides."
Compton is among wildlife experts who expect the discord to subside when the state is allowed to establish a hunting season for wolves just as it does with bears and other predators. And they believe it will take some of the monster out of the myth.
"People's feelings about wolves have to do with symbolism rather than scientific facts," said Ed Bangs, Montana-based wolf recovery coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
"People who are afraid of wolves describe them with all the qualities they would attribute to the spawn of Satan: they're greedy, dangerous and cruel. People who see them as providing balance in nature think they're wonderful and can do no wrong. The truth is, they're just another animal," Bangs said.
Up to half of the foreigners residing in China have departed over the past few years. The decline is particularly evident among US students, with their numbers plummeting by 98 percent, dwindling from 11,639 in the 2018-2019 academic year to a mere 211 in 2021-2022. Despite Beijing attributing the exodus to COVID-19 lockdowns, a closer examination of the data reveals that a significant portion left just before and after the lockdowns. Some foreigners who weathered the never-ending lockdowns finally decided to leave, as they were afraid that Beijing could reimpose lockdowns. However, COVID-19 is just one of many reasons that China’s
Due to enduring the Kafkaesque situation of having two accidents in 30 minutes, one involving an accident with an ambulance, I would like to share my personal experience. Both cases show the loopholes of Taiwanese law, which is a driving factor for the terrible traffic conditions in the nation. I was driving my scooter on the main road in Taoyuan’s Yangmei District (楊梅). Despite there being no cars behind me, a young man in an old car made a sudden left turn and I bumped into his vehicle. At first, the man tried to run away, but was blocked by other
The pre-eminent authority on the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), last month issued an update to one of its entries, adding the term “Chinese dragon” to its lexicon for the first time. The Chinese word long (龍) has for a long time been translated simply as “dragon,” but many commentators opposed this, believing that the traditional Western concept of a dragon is represented by the embodiment of a fearsome, wicked monster that must be killed. It was deemed unsuitable to use a wicked and inauspicious Western dragon to refer to an auspicious Chinese dragon, so it was recommended that a
My recent trip to Taiwan to vote in the presidential and legislative elections was a simple civil duty. Yet, it was still an eye-opening experience for a long-time US resident, given the similarity in political divisions of the two-party system in both countries. As the Washington Post said: “This isn’t just an election year. It’s the year of elections.” Taiwan’s election was to choose between pro-democracy and pro-China. To a good extent, the US election in November would also be the decision time for defending democracy. The strength of a democratic society lies in the quality of its people, who