Wolves are an important part of the ecosystem in many states. As predators, they work to keep prey animal populations down, and that is an important role. Humans can only hunt so many elk, deer, and moose in a year, after all. Natural predation is a much better method since wolves have all day to be predators while humans can only do it when it’s convenient.

That said, wolves aren’t so important to any ecosystem, in my opinion, that you should risk human life over the lives of a few wolves. However, that’s precisely what Washington wildlife officials did recently.

On 12 July, 2018, a salmon researcher was treed by a pack of wolves in a Washington state wilderness area. She tried pepper spray and yelling, but the pack surrounded her and she climbed a tree. She later climbed down, only to find the wolves still there. She scrambled back up the tree and called for rescue, about 12:30 p.m. From capitalpress.com:

Washington wildlife managers initially opposed sending a helicopter or a search-and-rescue team to save a woman treed by wolves in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, according to recordings and summaries of emergency calls obtained Tuesday.

The Department of Natural Resources pushed back and prepared to dispatch an air crew that eventually executed a swift rescue. Notes from a call between DNR dispatcher Jill Jones and a wildlife officer summarized WDFW’s position, and her position, shortly before the helicopter launched.

“No helicopter. Federally listed species. 3 WDFW personnel saying so,” according to DNR’s call log.

“We are more concerned for her life than the listed animal,” Jones told the officer. “He indicated that she is safe up in the tree. … I told him that we do not know how safe she is. I don’t know how stout the tree is, and if the limbs will continue to hold her or how long she can hold on.”

Later reports show the woman to be a seasonal employee engaged in salmon research. She was not a student. She was not at the Okonagan County campground, but miles away from it. The helicopter likely arrived about an hour after the researcher called for help. The Capital Press report records about 45 minutes of debate preceded sending the helicopter.

I’m sorry, but the life of a human takes precedence in a situation like this. You don’t debate about saving someone for crying out loud, and you don’t leave a human in a dangerous situation because there are some threatened species on the ground. What kind of moron thinks this is something you do?

The problem is, this kind of “thinking” is happening more and more. Usually, it’s more of a hypothetical thing, but plenty prioritize animal life over humans. Yes, that includes people who support the eradication of the human race so animals can run free.

Luckily, those people are rare. What’s far less rare, however, are people like these wildlife officials who were just fine leaving a woman at risk because there’s a chance someone might have to shoot one of the wolves.

Maybe.

Luckily, it worked out fine all around, but only because the right decision was eventually reached. It just shouldn’t have taken any debate in the first place.