A wolf died in Yellowstone National Park.
That in itself is not unusual. Wolves die in Yellowstone regularly, it’s part of the circle of life. They may die of old age, starvation, hunting accidents, or run-ins with members of a different pack.
But in Yellowstone, a place where they are meant to be protected, they should never be killed by humans.
Her Howl Cut Short
She was known as the White Lady. Her snowy coat was a rarity, as was her longevity. At 12 years old, she was still reigning as the alpha female of the Canyon Pack. That was a true testament to her strength and wisdom.
She likely would not have lived for many more years – 12 is quite old for a wild wolf – but now we will never know. A poacher took her potential away from all of us – her pack, her human admirers, and the biologists who could have learned so much more from the White Lady.
As tragic as her loss is, this is not the time to dwell in sadness. Wolves all over the world are at risk of meeting this same fate, largely due to fear and misinformation. We have the power to change that.
Speak Up for the Voiceless
Poachers do not act in a vacuum. There are often multiple people who are aware of their illegal actions. They may confide in friends and family, or drunkenly brag about their conquests at the bar.
If you know that someone is poaching, don’t be afraid to go to authorities. You are often able to do so with complete anonymity, depending on where you are located.
In the case of the White Lady, you can confidentially contact the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch in the following ways, as listed on their website:
- CALL the ISB Tip Line 888-653-0009
- TEXT to 202-379-4761
- ONLINE www.nps.gov/isb and click “Submit a Tip”
- EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
- MESSAGE via Facebook @InvestigativeServicesNPS or Twitter @SpecialAgentNPS
Poachers do more than harm animals, they also bring disrepute to their community. Gardiner, the Montana town near where the White Lady was killed, is now tainted by that act. Speak up for the animals, speak up for your town.
Educate Your Neighbors
So much of the hatred some people feel towards wolves springs from a lack of understanding. The best way to put this hatred to rest is with education. There are several ways you can provide people you know with information about wolves without creating a rift between you.
- Have candid discussions with people who you know feel negatively about wolves.
- Go into the conversation with a positive attitude and a willingness to listen to their side. They may have reasons for hating wolves that feel valid to them, and you will never convince them otherwise by spewing anger.
- Arm yourself with knowledge and be able to provide legitimate sources.
- Defenders of Wildlife is working to build the gap between ranchers and wolves, making them a great resource.
- Encourage your kid’s school to plan field trips to nearby National Parks or wildlife rescues so that the children can learn first-hand about the positive impact wolves and other predators have on the environment.
- Organize a fundraiser in your community. The money can go to an organization dedicated to protecting wolves, and the fundraiser itself is a great opportunity to meet people and share the positive ways we can all coexist with wolves.
Remember, challenging hatred with hatred only leads to more anger, which in turn leads to more wolves suffering. The best way to encourage positive action is with positive words.
Those are a few simple ways to help wolves, but I would love to hear what you think. How do you help wolves or other wildlife at risk?