Predator Management Goes Mainstream And Primetime

Hunters around the world are under fire for taking to the field, and no hunt draws the ire of anti-hunters like those involving regional apex predators.  Going back to the Melissa Bachman lion, or the more recent Joe Rogan archery hunt of a bear, we can see the outrage that is hurled at the hunters when these erroneously tagged “non-game” animals are hunted.

Mainstream media outlets have been complicit in the attacks against these hunters when it has fallen to them, and ever PC vigilant companies have distanced themselves from any appearance of support or participation in the time-honored tradition, and sound management practice that hunting represents.

That being the case, I was surprised and delighted when I watched the most recent episode of Mountain Men on the History Channel.  For those not familiar with the show, it follows several men across North American who live a life unimaginable to most.  They hunt their own food.  They trap for fur and profit.  They make bows with their bare hands.  Fly bush planes into the most remote of Alaska wilderness, even work the ground with four-legged horsepower.

One such man, Tom Oar, lives in the Yaak Valley region of Montana.  During the past brutal winter, we saw the area around Tom’s cabin become a regularly visited location for a pack of wolves.  This is a treacherous thought to anyone who knows enough about wolves to understand the threat they represent.  With some wolves weighing in over 150 pounds, and travelling in packs of four to ten animals, they exist as one of the most cunning and devastating hunting units in the world.

In the latest episode we saw Tom take advantage of a wolf management trapping tag that is issued by the state of Montana, and after a couple attempts, he managed to trap a wolf and dispatch the animal.  Such actions are common management practice, as they convey to the rest of the pack that dangers exist in the area, and they would be better served moving on to another range.

The filming was tasteful, with standard basic cable rules applying; no impact shot, no close up, no “grip and grin”, as it were.  They weren’t portraying a wolf “hunt”, it was predator management.  Reactive, not proactive.

That said, I sat in amazement as History Channel actually aired the killing of a wolf.  Even as I type it, I am a bit surprised.  Proper management of predator numbers is crucial not only for the prey animals they hunt (alongside their bipedal counterparts), but for the predators themselves.  Wolves will routinely “hunt out” an area, taking all of the game they can before moving on to another area to do the same.  These actions act as the cruelest form of population control, in the form of potential starvation or increased vulnerability to disease.

I don’t see the divide between hunters and anti-hunters being bridged anytime in the near future, but the even-handed manner in which History Channel showed need for population control, without involving the emotional arguments that can bubble up when the debate is undertaken was welcomed.

Kudos to History for exploring the reality that exists in the wildest parts of our world.  Even if you don’t agree, certainly we can all respect the desire to protect ones person and property.  At the end of the day, that’s all this discussion really needs, respect.