A Gray Wolf's Plea
There was a time when my family lived from Coast to Coast and from Canada to Mexico. We lived in dens with our mates and pups, and our backyards were hundreds of miles of open land. We had all the food we needed back then - elk, antelope, deer, rabbit. We were skilled predators, but we always followed the Rule of the Wild: Give more than you take.
I know what you're thinking: What could a pack of gray wolves possibly contribute to Mother Earth? Dodn't we just eat farmers' sheep and howl all the time?
Hardly. Whenever we killed an animal, we left some meat behind for others. We kept hoofed animals (such as deer) from overpopulating and taking more than their fair share of the vegetation. In fact, our threatening presence made our prey stronger. Antelopes ran faster, elk stayed more alert and mountain goats scaled steeper mountains because of us. Then, when we finally passed on to the Other World, our bodies became food for those still in this world.
You see, every creature on this planet contributes something sacred to the circle of life - from sea slugs to cactus to elephants. Over time, we have come to depend on one another. In this way, our universe is in balance.
But 200 years ago, that balance was threatened.
Our problems started when the White Man started moving into the countryside. We'd met Humans before. We'd lived alongside Native Americans for centuries. Occasionally, they killed one of us for fur, but only when necessary, and they didn't waste a thing. They understood the importance of maintaining a balanced circle of life, and they treated all of Earth's creatures with respect.
The White Man, however, was a cold-blooded killer. When they built railroads across our countryside, they shot every bison, deer, elk and moose in sight. Practically overnight, our food supply was gone. Left with no other alternative, we had to sneak up to their camps at night and attack their sheep and cattle. This made the White Man mad and he tried to kill us. They dragged us from our dens and shot us in front of our pups.
By the 20th century, we gray wolves were nearly extinct in 48 states. A few packs of us remained in northeastern Minnesota, and that was it.
Granted, extinction is a natural part of the circle of life, but humans were causing us to die out hundreds, if not thousands, of times faster. And that doesn't just hurt us. Humans, after all, are part of the circle of life too. Not only do you need us for food and fur, we supply you with medicines as well. Pushing us into extinction only hurts you in the end.
Fortunately, Americans started realizing this in the late 1960s. The continuous threat of war caused many people to re-evaluate their roles in Mother Earth. A man named Denis Hayes decided the best way to promote awareness of the planet was to throw it a big birthday party. Some 20 million people participated in the first-ever Earth Day on April 22, 1970.
These efforts have had a tremendous impact on my family and friends. It is now against the law to kill gray wolves or any other creature on the Endangered Species List. Today, approximately 2,200 of us gray wolves roam through the Minnesota countryside. Although it's not as many as there used to be, it's a decent start.
But while there have been some exciting victories in the Environmental Movement, we are still losing tens of thousands of species of plants and animals worldwide a year. This rate cannot continue. It will end our circle of life. That is why I am asking YOU to help keep the harmony of our Earth.
- Cars cause a great deal of pollution in our society, and they also kill a lot of wildlife like me. Carpool and use public transportation as often as possible. Better yet - bike or walk.
- Recycle and reuse as much as possible. For example, instead of throwing old letters, envelopes or papers away, bind them together and use for scratch paper. Also avoid products that come with disposable plastic packaging, and never, ever litter. We animals have been known to die after swallowing plastic debris or getting entangled in plastic six-pack holders. Yikes!
- Take your own bags to the grocery store. (Some places may even give you a discount!)
- Donate your toys, books and games to hospitals or daycare centers when you have outgrown them.
- Store your food in reusable containers like Tupperware instead of plastic baggies or aluminum foil. If you must use baggies, wash them after each use and reuse as long as possible.
- Contribute to the cycle of life by planting a tree or building a birdfeeder or birdbath. Maybe a whooping crane will stop by for a visit!
- Always turn off the TV when you aren't watching it. Better yet, store it in the closet and only bring it out when there is something you absolutely have to watch (a PBS documentary on wolves, for instance).
- Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth and use water-saving devices on toilets and shower-heads.
- Never use an electrical appliance when a manual one will do. A perfect example is can-openers! (Or, just use your teeth - like me!)
- Teach everything you've just learned to 10 other people!
On behalf of the gray wolves, I thank you. Mother Earth thanks you. Your future pups thank you too.
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Links to Other Dispatches
Stephanie - Your life is in danger if your neighbor is a toxic dump
Nick - Two years in a tree can change the world