In the ugly verbal war raging over wolves in America, what exactly does the disgusting, bullying voice of intimidation sound like?

I can describe the exact kind of menacing words, because not long ago I listened to a recorded threat played back for me.

Since wolves were restored to the ecosystems of Yellowstone and central Idaho in 1995, I’ve been amassing a list of people who say they’ve been threatened by tormentors.

Some of the threats have come in written form, some were communicated face to face, and others were delivered over the phone or through acts of vandalism. The most vile are always anonymous, the modus operandi of cowards.

I’ve spoken with conservationists in Idaho, for example, who had death threats made against them and who had bullets fired over their heads as they stood on a hill howling to wolves.

I’ve heard similar tales of death threats directed toward civil servants in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana who say they and colleagues were warned harm would come to them, their families and their pets.

To make the point that hatred flows both ways, I’m also familiar with instances in which ranchers and hunters have been obnoxiously harassed and menaced.

Further, I know environmentalists who do not consider themselves “gun people” but have resorted to obtaining concealed-weapons permits because they’re afraid of nut jobs.

This is disgusting, all of it. Actually, it’s beyond disgusting. It cuts against the grain of what American civil society is supposed to champion.

People who intimidate others with threats of violence are pathetic, but more than that they are lawbreakers, and they need to be held fully accountable for their actions.

Section 6-6-103 of Wyoming state law was recently updated by the Legislature to encompass all forms of “new” electronic media, including cellphones, text messages and emails.

The statute reads: “A person commits a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both, if he telephones another anonymously, or under a false or fictitious name and uses obscene, lewd or profane language or suggests a lewd or lascivious act with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend.”

Why do I mention this? Never in my nearly 30 years as a journalist have I pulled a story at the last minute at the subject’s behest — until last week.

I asked editors at the News & Guide to withhold my column because the person (not from here) I interviewed for the piece was terrified for her safety. It is not my intent — nor, as I learned in recent days, is it the intent of law enforcement or this newspaper — to victimize an alleged victim twice.

More than a week ago I got an unsolicited phone call from a woman I didn’t know who said she had received a threatening message left on her cellphone.

The motive of the antagonist, who may have broken a state law, was to harass her for voicing criticism of the now-infamous incident involving a wolf killer who paraded the carcass of a dead lobo around Jackson Town Square.

The woman wasn’t alone. Citizens across the country penned letters to the editors of newspapers and online blogs. The woman didn’t criticize the hunter’s legal right to eradicate the wolf in Wyoming’s draconian “predator zone,” which covers the majority of the state and enables wolves to be killed any time of day, by almost any means, without provocation.

Instead she called into question the exhibitionist’s motivation for strapping the bloodstained animal to the rooftop of a vehicle, gruesomely displaying the carcass on Town Square and even enlisting a friend — a convicted bald eagle poacher — to contact the News&Guide to photograph the spectacle it caused.

I’ve heard the threatening message the caller left, and trust me, it is obscene and may be illegal. He wasn’t courageous enough to leave his name, but fortunately his identity is not anonymous. An investigating deputy with a county sheriff’s office was able to ascertain from whose phone it came, and the message has been saved.

Terrorizing people, making them afraid to live in their own community and intimidating them for speaking up is reprehensible. Enlightened communities should have zero tolerance for such conduct. If someone threatens you, report it to authorities.

Todd Wilkinson, author of “Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet,” writes his News&Guide column every week.

(14) comments

Matt

"Howling for Justice.com" is full of some of the most vile comments and threats directed towards fellow human beings. Much of the Pro-wolf crowd is actually ANTI-human judging made obvious by their statements.

Hiker4529

There are quite a few comments on here that are some of the best points of view I have ever read.I appreciate the writer of this article as well,as it finally sheds light on a bullying scenario that has been going on for years.i,for one,love wolves,yet have had to use a "pen name" when writing in once to Planet JH on behalf of the animal & sat in meetings prior to the wolf hunting being allowed & been too afraid to speak up as I watched wolf advocates get bullied for speaking their mind such as being cut off of snickered @ or had chairs clanking so they couldn't be heard.one
Man had a speech impediment & was laughed at as well when he spoke out in favor of wolves! This is ashame. I am not a fan of the graphic or childish bumper stickers sported around town that boast & joke about killing wolves either. Nor the visitors who come all the way up here to see wildlife,wolves included,& end up leaving here confused & upset because someone who lives here shuts down their excitement for wolves & tells them what bike creatures they are instead.this whole wolf debate has clearly gone too far.i have,in contrast,seen things online by wolf lovers that are a bit extreme & childish as well,& I do roll my eyes at this,but having experienced bullying on a small scale myself,I can say that I know the fear of being afraid to speak out in favor of wolves due to being scared for your safety.i had to quit my job over this scenario because of grown men giving me grief,& as a short,thin young woman,this is intimidating on a completely unnecessary level.i do sympathize with the ranchers who lose their livestock & pets due to these creatures.i can't imagine the frustration it must cause. I do also realize,& respect that it comes w/ the territory of living in the wild.where wolves aren't a problem,there are bear,mountain lions,brutal weather conditions,etc...to deal w/ up here.i moved up here 7 years ago a southerner who had no idea what snow chains were much less what -10 felt like or how to handle a jackson hole winter.im still not much of a fan,but do understand that making a choice to live in this wild ecosystem comes w/ having to have a tough skin & an understanding & respect for the climate,the wilderness,& the wildlife. I've always been proud of our scenery,our national parks,& our wildlife that still roams free here.it devastates me to see that begin to get robbed from us as it becomes uncool to appreciate it or your life gets threatened.seriously?! & a license to hunt out of hate is not hunting.wolves are more & more being killed by men who have envy over the hunting skills of these beautiful animals or childish,uneducated heartless beings who enjoy torturing the wolves prior to killing them,then doing such things as parading them around the square or posting horrendous photos of their torturing the wolves online.these are the same foolish people who threaten others' lives all because they enjoy wildlife or because they had a problem w/ a heartless,immature soul parading their wolf carcass around the square of a classy town where families & children could have seen such a spectacle.these people are the same ones who comment on any photo of a wolf on it saying "hit it" or "shoot it" to where you can't even enjoy a photo of these animals anymore. This is a disgrace.a town I once was proud to live in I now question the humanity of because in my opinion,someone who can threaten a persons life for loving an animal or for having a problem w/ torturing an animal then parading it around or posting it online for all to see,how can these people have compassion about anything? It's amazing to me how our ancestors,how the Native Americans,managed to co-habitate w/ all creatures & still manage to feed themselves (when game was nearly all they had to eat due to no grocery stores),& they even had a respect for these carnivores,yet we as civilized humans in the 21st century can't even mention a wolf unless we want to drown it in blood otherwise we are to fear for our lives & made to fold our hands & take the bullying as though this were some racial war from the 1950s where we are resorted to the back of the bus. It's absurd.

Jersey Lincoln

http://www.freep.com/comments/article/20131115/NEWS06/311150076/wolf-hunt-Baraga-County
My, My - - look at all the vile comments and threats to a fellow human for doing something totally legal and with in his rights. Can you say HYPOCRITES !!
http://www.freep.com/article/20131115/NEWS06/311150076/wolf-hunt-Baraga-County

Dave Showalter

Let's not forget that wolves don't attack people. Sure someone could drum up something in the history books, but you have a better chance of getting hurt in the woods without crossing paths with any of the apex predators running around out there.Yes, there are bound to be human conflicts with wolves and bears, but that's why we must manage the species. The current vermin status only serves to turn up the volume on hate and hunting for hate isn't hunting.

Vincent Cornish

First; and foremost, Mr. Wilkinson's article is well-written and brings important social controversy to light.
When IS certain cognizant behavior, such as discussed here, likely: illegal, obtuse, and socially unacceptable?
I lived in Wyoming and now have a few simple questions for Wyoming-ites: Would you; torture, dismember, abuse the lifeless body of Bison?
What about Elk? Prairie Dog? Horse?
Would you threaten violence against your neighbor for them protecting their pet cat?
Why are wolves the chosen animal for such clearly anti-social, aberrant to historic social norms, and violent, behavior?
And it is.
National Law clearly addresses terrorist threats.
National Law clearly addresses abuse of animals.
And, so do Wyoming (and other) State Laws.
Historic and current Social Norms will not support this current behavior against wolves.
I earned my Bachelor's degree in Social Psychology with a school in Missouri; The "Show me State."
To the writer "Jersey;" Show me.
Show me the names of those socially violent pro-wolf Facebook pages; Maybe I will write to them to drop violence they (allegedly) promulgate.
Show me actual scientific studies supporting regional worry's; Wolves will decimate my Livestock, in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
Yet; begin your argument with the 2010 USDA/APHIS Federal study...you may be disappointed.
(USDA/APHIS Cattle and Calves Predator Death Loss in the United States, 2010.
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/general/downloads/cattle_calves_pred_deathloss_2010.pdf)
Wolves account for 1/5 (one fifth) of livestock predation which is 1/14th (one fourteenth) of livestock losses from medical issues.
One fifth of one fourteenth...a small percentage of the whole picture.
Epilogue:
I grew up on the Pacific Coast. and I kept a keen eye out for Sharks when in, or on, the Pacific.
Thanks to social phobias from the movie, "Jaws;" Shark populations have declined sufficiently to de-stabilize Aquatic Ecosystems.
Wolves were eradicated from America before their Ecological value was understood. Now, through reintroduced in the mid 1990's', we witness improving forest habitats and understand why reintroduction and protection, within Yellowstone, describes a critical part an Apex Predator plays in re-stabilizing Land-Ecosystems.
A Fear:
I work to educate in many ways; one such subject is hate-based prejudice. ignorance, and misinformation which then creates unsubstantiated social fears.
A Thought:
In closing this note, it is socially accepted that, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."
Could humans be led to less fear and greater understanding, if one could only get them to think?
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Jersey Lincoln

There are numerous FB pages with names and agendas such as this.. "Save the Wolves, Shoot the Wolf Hunters" .. I have see vile and disgusting references and threats made to CHILDREN because they are from a traditional hunting family. The above article is a pathetic and hypocritical immature point of view - nothing more. The road runs BOTH ways - I suggest you find something better to do with your lack of writing skills than this feeble attempt to rally your human hating, self loathing feeble band of blind followers..[yawn]

Julie Gallegos

Jersey's description of hunting as a traditional family "value" is a narrow-minded conception of what constitutes a family tradition. My family has been here since the Mayflower and we have never hunted as a family pastime. Many years ago as a necessity, sure - but never saw any trophies on anybody's wall and there are no family hunting stories. Re: Jersey's shock at the vehemence of the anti-hunt FB pages - to give perspective, there are equally numerous and far more disgusting pages administered by psychotic animal killers showing wolves and coyotes who have been dismembered, torn to pieces by dogs, stomped upon until their eyes pop out, strangled slowly in snares, killed while pregnant such as I understand the wolf in the photo accompanying this article was killed by the well known Wyoming outfitters and famous wolf-ophobes who I won't name here, and I could go on and on. So Jersey- I suggest YOU find something better do with your time, than trying to prop up the absolutely despicable behavior of the wolf hunters, by saying "look at what the mean people posted on FB". I 'm willing to bet that the wolf lovers are not phoning death threats to the wolf hunters.

Jersey Lincoln

Ya Julie - RE-read my post... NOTE: I commented " The road goes both ways.." I cannot help your low comprehension of written English! As for the "bet" you feel so comfortable to make.... WRONG again sunshine ;-) There are MANY that are ON FILE in police and sheriff offices where people who's entire livelihood was in jeopardy due to an introduced apex predator and when said predator was lethally removed by WS - the FAMILY became the target of vile death threats and violence.... FACT - put down the chips & pop, put some shoes & pants on & go out into the real world - I am willing to BET that is a foreign concept to YOU!! [smile]

Julie Gallegos

My comprehension of written English is just fine - Jersey's written English is another story entirely.

Judith Jarrett

sorry an error

Judith Jarrett

Thank you for bringing this to light. You are very courageous! I just read a description of The Northern Rockies, in Forbes Magazine, "have become an unsupervised playpen for reactionaries to act out warrior fantasies against demonic wolves, coastal elites and idiotic environmentalists". Perfect. In addition as a mental health professional I realize the animal cruelties described in " who speaks for the wolves?" are indicative of psychopathic behaviors often found in serial killers. These actions should be taken seriously! And you are so right that anyone that does not confront and question is on the slippery slope of encouraging this behavior!!!

Dave Showalter

A great piece and corageous voice for these times. The part that makes absolutely no sense is that wolf-haters have everything they want. Vermin status! Kill wolves! Use social media and cell phones to round up a posse! So why threaten people? Oh, it's the government is the wolf, liberal conspiracy, anti-luna lunacy.
Ecologically, it's a horrible disaster with no scientific merit. Things will really get messy when we realize that whoops, we went ahead and extirpated an apex predator again. Just for being wolves.

Julia Kirby

I am an animal lover but not all together against hunting if it is done within the laws and makes sense as in for eating. I am not for trophy hunting. That is plain evil. Last year I went out to take photographs & was present as a bear was wrongfully killed. The hunters were unprepared & others had not taken care of the carcasses properly so of course bear were present. These hunters were also shooting towards the highway, using their trucks to coral the elk & cellphones to contact each other as to the elk whereabouts. Not what I would call good ol' honest hunting, but murdering. When these hunters at Shwabackers Landing saw that I was taking photographs of heads they'd just thrown over their shoulders instead of putting them in the garbage disposal which was just a few yards away they became hostile. They all had guns and I had none. I was forced back into my car especially by one very angry bearded short man. They knew what they were doing was wrong. I believe those tactics were aided by Bill Long, the former Game Warden, but nothing seems to have changed. I do not wonder why Park Employees wear bullet proof vests, maybe all of us nature lovers should sadly invest in those.

Russell Morgan

If you want to see who is making all the threats just go to a pro wolf hunting page on face book. The pro wolf people are the nastiest people I have ever seen. I have read hundreds and hundreds of the nastiest comments and violent threats coming from these ARA types.

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