I am angry. Maybe it is the weather and looming winter darkness, but I suspect it is something else entirely or maybe two things. Oh yes, now I know. I am upset that the US has slipped below average in science, math and reading. This is incredibly tragic and makes the job of getting people to understand the value of predators and the complexity of ecological interactions even harder. Our national tendency to think of ourselves as exceptional and right really works so much more effectively, if we are exceptional and right. We are compromised and gullible when we lose our edge, which brings me to the second thing.
Wolves Kill Female Hikers, Liberals Cover It Up
The above headline is making the internet rounds and is being pushed by a group called the Western Center for Journalism. Who, you might ask? Well, this is a group run by Floyd Brown who was the founding chairman of a little organization called Citizens United—as in that little Supreme Court decision that changed the face of American politics. He is also notable—according to his biography—for his role in producing the infamous “Willie Horton Ad” and a TV campaign in support of Clarence Thomas’ candidacy as supreme court justice (a connection perhaps?). And now he resurfaces heading up this group that claims that it is "the place to go to read news exposing media bias and learn the truth." (Please pardon any typos at this point, because I am shaking uncontrollably.)
So back to the story about the female hikers and the liberal cover-up, is there any “truth” to that? Yes, two women went missing in the Craters of the Moon National Monument near Boise, Idaho. One was found in September and officials believe that she died of hyperthermia and exposure. The second woman was just found and they are doing toxicology studies to pin down cause of death. But nowhere in the legitimate press is there any mention of wolves. This appears for all intents and purposes to be a case where two good friends hiked too far and died as result (see article here). Our condolences go out to their families and loved ones.
“Retired US Fish & Wildlife Biologist Jim Beers (firstname.lastname@example.org) and other area citizens fear that a marauding wolf pack or other predators like a bear or a cougar may have attacked, killed and eaten the women. “Distortions of the evidence to exonerate the wolves” may serve the larger aim of the feds who want the Gray Wolf to remain listed on the Endangered Species registry.” Wolves Kill Female Hikers, Liberals Cover It Up by Suzanne Eovaldi December 2, 2013
OK, so now I get it. This is what would be considered an “anti-Onion” story: One that is so bad, so fact-challenged and so poorly reported that it actually seems like a parody, but it is really someone’s lame attempt at journalism. This factual travesty would be almost funny were it not for the fact that this bitter, hate filled “journalist” teamed up with a bitter and discredited wildlife biologist with the express purpose of dropping a myth bomb right on the tail end of the comment period for federal gray wolf delisting. And they used this awful, awful tragedy for this misguided political purpose. It is extremely hard to imagine what could possibly motivate Ms. Eovaldi and Mr. Beers to employ this unspeakable and underhanded tactic.
"US citizens nationwide are being urged by Western residents to comment at this address: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073 by the December 17, 2013 deadline for public comments. Two talking points include the fact that the Gray Wolf is not in danger of extinction. In fact, populations now far exceed the numbers originally proposed for the recovery effort. Beers warns that wolf populations have inundated the states of MT, ID, OR, and WA. AZ and NM are slated to receive more wolf populations, courtesy of the feds, and CA, CO, UT, & TX are facing forcible injections of wolves. Very dangerous wolf-hybrids are being sighted from IL, MO, and the Dakotas into OH & PA!" Wolves Kill Female Hikers, Liberals Cover It Up by Suzanne Eovaldi December 2, 2013
Some say that the ends justify the means, but I do not really buy that. The Citizen’s United decision in a big way and this piece in its own small way are killing America. When someone is so driven by their political and philosophical beliefs that the truth and methods mean nothing, then freedom becomes meaningless.