Out on the high plains and mountains of Montana and Idaho, the gray wolf is returning to part of its old homeland. Responsibility for the wolf’s comeback ought to rest with the many government land agencies that have spent millions of dollars studying the benefits and options of wolf reentry. But the wolf’s return is being handled cheaply and efficiently by the wolves themselves as they drift across the border from Canada, trying their best to steer clear of poisoned bait and speeding pickup trucks. As an endangered species, wolves in the northern Rockies are now protected by federal law.
The wolf’s reappearance is drawing no applause from western sheep- and cattle-raisers. For old-timers who remember when the last wolf carcasses were strung up, the wolf’s return represents an annoying reversal in a war they thought they’d won. But America’s war against animals is still in the early stages of its second phase—its new, ecological phase. For ranchers and other rural landowners, more animal trouble lies ahead....
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