Obstacles to this basic need to roam, such as human development, can provide formidable threats to long-term survival of many species. For the large carnivores, it's not just about losing the freedom to move, it's about losing a natural process.
The rest of us don't need to have absolutes declared about nature. Is the predator absolutely the big force, or is the vegetation absolutely the big force? Wait a minute, maybe the hippos are the big force?
Protected since 1973 under the Endangered Species Act, Michigan wolves were delisted at the start of 2012. By the end of that year, Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation declaring them fair game for hunting. Why? Because... Well, that's a tough question to answer.
Darwin was right about many things, including the mechanism by which the plenitude of life we know as biodiversity came to thrive on this planet. Unfortunately for us, his picture has hit a big roadblock.
If there's one word to gauge a good natured working relationship, it's symbiosis. From understanding the needs of both parties and acting when we observe them, to giving back in unexpected and surprising ways, it's all a beautiful dance we must follow each day.
The pads of his feet were dirty and worn like frayed fabric. He did not speak, he did not struggle. Or eat or drink. Yet I did not sense any fear festering in him nor did his breath on my arm make goose bumps as he lay there at the mercy of the whim of man.
The truly grand facade stares at you, timeless. But of course time is what makes it. As my observation telescoped and expanded to try and (unsuccessfully) comprehend, a raptor silhouette made a long, graceful stitch in the scene.
In many cultures, the full moon in January is referred to as the Wolf Moon. As we think this through a bit more, we realize that the wolf is not howling at the moon but at his pack mates. This is their time for communication, when the earth rests still and their voices carry best.
Over the past year, we've seen an about-face in the treatment and management of wolves in the Northern Rockies. They've gone from being federally protected under the Endangered Species Act to being public enemy number one across much of the region. And it's about to get even worse.