How a Campaign of Fear and Intimidation Led to the Gray Wolf’s Removal from the Endangered Species List.
BY JAMES WILLIAM GIBSON
“Nabeki” didn’t expect everyone to love her when, in September 2009, she founded the website “Howling for Justice” to celebrate the return of gray wolves to the Northern Rocky Mountains and to protest the then-pending wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho. She didn’t expect to fear for her life, either. But after she posted the names of Montana wolf hunters on her site, the threats began. On a single day in February 2010 the anti-wolf movement sent to her 3,000 messages. Some of the e-mails expressed their desire for her to leave the Rockies immediately. Some messages contained graphic descriptions of wolf killing clearly meant to cause her anguish. “When I pulled the trigger, I think I saw the wolf cry,” one person wrote. “Then it’s [sic] guts where [sic] blown onto the hillside and it moaned.” A few of the messages hinted at attacking her personally.
Courtesy Lynne Stone, Boulder White Clouds Council
“Until that day I wasn’t thinking about the hatred,” Nabeki, a professional from California who moved to the Rockies 15 years ago, told me. Nabeki is an Internet ID, a pseudonym that she asked me to maintain since she fears for her safety. “The idea that someone can hate you that much and not even know you is really daunting. It was the first time I got really scared. To this day I’m still scared.” What bothers her the most, though, is the sense that no one outside the Northern Rockies grasps the peril wolf advocates face. “I don’t know if people realize how serious a culture war this really is.”
Read James William Gibson’s writings at jameswilliamgibson.com. Marc Cooke helped arrange interviews with wolf hunters and advocates for this story.