Jewish World Review August 17, 2004 / 30 Menachem-Av, 5764

Peter A. Brown

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

A home where wolves don't roam? | CODY, Wyo.— Democracy is based on the idea that people choose their own rules, and that those decisions are made by and for the human beings who live under them.

Yet many in the Rocky Mountain states wonder if that notion has become a 21st-century casualty of the environmental movement.

They resent the ability of special interests to push government toward a mentality that many here see as caring more about four-legged creatures than it does about two-legged ones. They are angry about the reintroduction of vicious predators and other efforts to kill a staple of the local economy - all in the name of an idealized vision of nature held by those who don't have a clue how people here live.

The culprits in this self-proclaimed Rodeo Capital of the World - and throughout much of the Rockies - aren't gunmakers, cigarette companies, trial lawyers, insurance companies or big business.

To those like Cody residents Karen Gee and Tom Hiltz, the bad guy is a Sierra Club they see as trying to impose a mentality that ignores the reality of life in rural America.

In the Gee/Hiltz view, this environmentalist mentality springs mostly from people who live in cities and bustling suburbs, where the closest they get to nature is walking the family dog and watching Animal Planet.

Obviously, states' rights and local decision-making can go too far, as the need for federally enforced changes in the civil-rights era showed.

Yet it is hard not to sympathize with these folks who see federal mandates as more concerned about animal welfare than people welfare.

Donate to JWR

The residents' complaints center on efforts to ban snowmobiles in nearby Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, even though they are restricted in number, operate on existing roads and must be parts of guided tours.

Also outraging residents is the reintroduction of Canadian wolves into the parks to restore some supposed "ecological balance."

The former threatens to hurt the region's tourist-dependent economy. During the often sub-zero winter, visitors don't trek through the parks to get up close to the buffalo and moose. Those who flock here in summer to commune with nature then are snuggled in well-heated homes complaining about shoveling their sidewalks.

The government importation of the wolves threatens hunters' ability to feed their families. After all, the wolves aren't just a danger to two-legged creatures; they eat the elk and game prized by hunters.

"The Sierra Club wants to stop our way of life. Why don't they go into Central Park in New York City and release Canadian wolves and see how the people there like it?" said Hiltz, 40, a county worker who operates heavy equipment.

His wife, Karen, 37, an Air Force veteran who has two kids and runs an Internet-based, graphic-design business out of her house said: "You have to live here to know how we live. Why should they tell us how to live?"

Their resentment is genuine. They live close to the parks and understand they are national treasures. Anything that endangers the parks' future would be even a greater threat to their way of life.

The Gee/Hiltz household doesn't buy beef, although they're not vegetarians. "We buy chicken and pork at the store, but hunt an elk," and that's better than beef. "With them (the feds) importing Canadian wolves into the park, they are thinning out the herds, and I'm afraid to camp near the park entrance for safety reasons."

To be fair to the tree-huggers, the environmentalists didn't bring the wolves from Canada, but are viewed as responsible for getting Bill Clinton to do so. The restocking of this vicious predator, which had almost disappeared here, and in neighboring Idaho, Montana and Utah, occurred under Clinton, who also came up with rules to stop snowmobiling in the parks.

During the Clinton years, environmental groups had greater government clout. Then, since 2000, the environmentalists have made inroads with the federal judiciary.

It is not lost here that Emmett Sullivan, the federal judge who has tried to ban snowmobiles in the parks, sits 2,000 miles away in Washington, D.C., where the environmental lobby operates.

However, Clarence Brimmer, a Wyoming federal judge, has blocked Sullivan's ruling, leaving those whose livelihoods depend on winter tourism to wonder what to do.

Democracy works strangely, and our federal system is rife with examples of national priorities shoved down local residents' throats.

This is a good example of that.

It is hard to disagree with those here who wonder if things might be different were wolves set free on the D.C. Mall.

Peter A. Brown is an editorial page columnist for the Orlando Sentinel. Comment by clicking here.


08/10/04: Public interest vs. minority rights
08/10/04: Kerry deserves an A in history, and in his willingness to mimic the mantra of those he has spent an entire political career vilifying
08/03/04: Kerry's challenge: Closing the deal
07/29/04: Note to Prez: Customer's always right
07/20/04: If Kerry doesn't tell, voters should ask
07/14/04: PSST, pass it on, Kerry & Crew no longer think Iraq war was a mistake. Really!
06/29/04: Hostile media, prickly president — a troubling mix
06/22/04: With Kerry's choices, you'd want McCain, too
06/04/04: A debt unpaid to D-Day warriors
05/25/04: America has a bad attitude!
05/20/04: Surprise! A thank you to Bill Clinton
05/06/04: Corrupt U.N.? Shine a light
04/28/04: Kerry not weak on defense — just wrong
04/22/04: No attacks in U.S. since 9-11: Why?
04/16/04: Schools should focus on boys — now
03/16/04: Scalia recusing could give Kerry a bruising
03/04/04: Abortion, gay marriage show hypocrisy
03/01/04: Politicians can't repeal economic laws
02/19/04: The question prez, Kerry won't debate
01/21/04: Dems trying oh so hard to keep tired issue alive
01/21/04: Can whiners ever see positive side?
12/23/04: UN proves yet again it's dangerously misguided
11/18/03: U.N. oversight of Internet: Dumb idea
11/11/03: Absent change, GOP trend continues
10/28/03: Soft-on-defense stereotype — no wonder
10/22/03: Bet on Bush and the economy
09/23/03: France's time to decide: Friend or foe
09/16/03: Alabama no fluke in rejecting tax hike
09/03/03: Why Bush, Dean will win big in California recall
08/12/03: Hypocrisy from anti-death-penalty crowd
08/05/03: The rule of law or the Golden Rule?
07/22/03: A cautionary tale for those who naively believe that political posturing can override the laws of economics
06/24/03: Let seniors make their own choices
06/03/03: Bush bucks NRA to woo soccer moms
05/28/03: Bail out states? It's not D.C.'s job
05/20/03: Lawyers' party hits a new low
05/13/03: Bush mimics Nixon, Reagan by going against the political grain

© 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services