There is a nine line proposed law in Pierre, SB 205, which, if approved, will allow for the slaughter of any wolf seen anywhere, doing anything, or nothing. The bill was approved in the Senate Ag Committee. Next stop, the full South Dakota Senate. Currently, there are no wolf packs residing in our state. A few loners have been seen "passing thru," but according to officials at Game, Fish, and Parks, there are no permanent residents.

Our legislature is sometimes slow to spot trends and respond. However, the mere chance a wolf might be here and a pack might form in our state has east and west river legislators scrambling. At the beginning are the names of legislators endorsing the slaughter. The text of the "kill it if it looks like a wolf" is below. The important parts are bold :

State of South Dakota

ENGROSSED NO. SB 205 - 02/05/2013
Introduced by: Senators Vehle, Begalka, Bradford, Brown, Lucas, Maher, Omdahl, Otten
(Ernie), Rampelberg, Rave, Rhoden, Soholt, and Sutton and Representatives
Olson (Betty), Carson, Cronin, Greenfield, Heinert, Hoffman, May, Nelson,
Qualm, Stalzer, Tulson, Tyler, and Verchio
FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to authorize the hunting of wolves in certain circumstances.
Section 1. That subdivision (21) of § 41-1-1 be amended to read as follows:
(21) "Predator/varmint," coyote, wolf, gray fox, red fox, skunk, gopher, ground squirrel,
chipmunk, jackrabbit, marmot, porcupine, crow, and prairie dog;
Section 2. That chapter 41-6 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as
Wolves may be hunted, taken, or killed in any area of the state in which the State of South  Dakota has preeminent authority over the management of wolves.


Understanding the group thinking, or non thinking in Pierre, there is no doubt this legislation will pass. It wouldn't surprise me to have the House add a provision for bounties, harkening back to the frenzied days of wolf genocide.

This is what I find troubling about this proposal: There is nothing in this bill which provides the State, Game, Fish, and Parks department with any input on possible management strategies. The mountain lion has made a comeback in our state. There is a hunting season on them, to manage their numbers. Why is the wolf not given the same respect?

Is it because, like human hunters, wolves travel in packs to hunt for their food? Do nightmares about "Little Red Riding Hood" and "The Three Little Pigs" cause us to panic at the thought of the presence of a wolf in our state?

Every year there are stories about the damage deer do to crops, harvested hay, and even gardens, in and near cities. There are too many of them. Recently, a story from Wind Cave National Park in the Southern Black Hills, reported problems with too many elk and the need to "move them someplace else."

Yes, the wolf is a predator. But, in my mind, they are not a "varmint." Their normal prey are the old, the weak, the slow. By culling, they give the survivors a better chance to grow larger, and remain healthy. Wolves were here long before the white man brought cattle and sheep. Our Native American friends found a way to cohabit with them. There was, and still is, great respect for "brother wolf" among native peoples.

I want the Legislature to give the experts at Game, Fish, and Parks the authority to manage any wolves which may pass thru or reside in our state. I want the Legislature to set up a program to pay ranchers of both sheep and cattle for proven losses due to wolves. Hundreds of cattle and sheep die each year on the prairie and feedlots. I don't think allowing wolves to exist in their natural habitat will significantly change those numbers.

I want people in the cattle and sheep industry to accept the reality they are allowing animals to graze on open prairie, foothills, and mountains, which for centuries were inhabited by buffalo, deer, elk, antelope, mountain lions, bears, and wolves. Ranchers might feel they "own" the land, but it really belongs to mother nature. Ranchers are just using it. Man's efforts to control mother nature, thru slaughter, tearing up natural prairie, which helped create the dust bowls, trying to control rivers, has not always been successful. Building homes in rural forested areas doesn't work so well when mother nature starts wildfires.Yet we continue to allow and even promote those choices.

My point is, we can't control mother nature. We have to find a way to take advantage of what she is providing, animals and birds to hunt and eat, air to breathe, water to drink, and land to respect and enjoy.

Allowing the wholesale slaughter of the wolf, makes us the same as what we accuse them to be, "predators and varmints."