"If we choose to work together, then we don't need to choose between wolves and livestock." ~ Carter Niemyer
When wolves were first reintroduced to the Greater Yellowstone area in the mid-1900’s, no one could truly foresee what was to come. No one could fully predict the tremendous celebration that would occur, the overwhelming controversy that would sweep the nation, and the immense conflict that divided whole communities, not to mention the hardship on the animal itself in terms of aggressive lethal management.
Unbeknownst to the wolf, he now carries a great burden on his back. He has become a political instrument, a tool for fundraising, the urban symbol of wilderness lost, and the scapegoat for rural challenges. And this, for just being a wolf and doing what nature intended: hunt, disperse, find a mate, live in a family unit, and raise pups.
Today wolf recovery is celebrated as one of the greatest conservation success stories of all time, and in terms of restoring an iconic species, the growing population numbers, and in recognition of the tremendous accomplishment of those who made it happen, this celebration is well warranted. But has wolf recovery truly been “successful” when you take into account the continued persecution of a whole species, the growing divide between communities, and the continued polarizing debate that has hindered the ability for wolves, working ranches, and people to thrive on shared landscapes? We don’t believe so.
As wolves disperse into new states, those states look to their predecessors as a model; however nearly 25-years later, there has yet to be a state that has created a lasting environment for wild wolves and rural communities to exist without conflict socially and economically. Einstein is widely credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” And, yet the same story for wolves and ranching repeats itself.
Thus, we believe it is time to change the paradigm of how “successful” wolf recovery is defined and approached that includes wolves, livestock, and people as equal parts of the equation. Likened to the three-legged stool analogy, if one leg is missing or weakened the stool collapses. We believe that historically this stool has continued to falter due to the imbalance in effort. WCI seeks to create and implement this critical balance for success. We believe that instead of persecuting a whole species or an entire culture, we need to recognize that we are part of a larger interconnected and interdependent community, and that by supporting the viability of the individual parts we can heal and ensure the health of the whole instead of continuing to fuel the polarizing rhetoric that has only caused ultimate harm to the respective causes we claim to serve.
“All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals, or collectively the land.” ~ Aldo Leopold
Our no compromise philosophy When talking about building on common ground, or meeting in the middle, the concept of compromise is generally part of the equation. However, compromise can be an intimidating factor and immediately brings to mind the need to give something up, perhaps something of deep value. Because of this, compromise is often a stumbling block that can quickly bring an end to well-intentioned efforts to find meaningful solutions. What the WCI model presents is a no compromise scenario. Our strategy allows only for gain. The WCI model sets up a true win-win scenario for the urban public who support wolves, the rural communities who live with the wolves, the agencies who are charged with managing and conserving wolves, and the wolf itself can finally exist in peace and as nature intended.