This week's cover story may be all about bears, and the lead arts story about bison, but the issue that continues to drive locals wild is wolves. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy's Aug. 5 decision to place gray wolves in Montana and Idaho back under Endangered Species Act protection set off the latest round of howling for a different resolution in this ongoing debate. And nearly two months later, the howling has only grown louder.
Examples of the debate's fever pitch abound, but perhaps the most inexplicable—yet ambitiously literary—example comes from rabid wolf-hunt advocate Toby Bridges, the founder of Lobo Watch. To help supplement his group's many editorials and protests against Molloy's decision, Bridges started writing an online novel about the issue. Titled Wolf Kill, the self-proclaimed "fictional suspense-drama" features a hunter named Judd Parker, his son Jack, and Judd's hunting pal, Cole. So far, Bridges has written a foreword and two chapters, packed with thinly veiled rhetoric like this line from Jack: "But Mom, I can't go to school...not with the wolves so close to our cattle."
Who knew the wolf problem spread all the way to classroom attendance? No wonder Montana students are being left behind.
Others are taking a more direct opposition to Molloy's unpopular but legally sound ruling. Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus recently engaged Rep. Denny Rehberg in a game of delegate one-upmanship. Two weeks ago, Rehberg, who's currently up for reelection, announced he'd drawn up legislation that would return the gray wolf to state management in Montana and Idaho. Rehberg's proposal—all 150 words of it—was never introduced because he wanted to first gather input from Montanans. Typical Rehberg—he's never followed through with his own legislation, unless it involves congratulating the Carroll College football team.
Eyeing an opening, Baucus and Tester announced Tuesday they'd drafted their own legislation to do the same thing as Rehberg's. But unlike their counterpart in the House, Baucus formally introduced his bill—all 392 words of it—to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, with Tester as a co-sponsor.
Typical Baucus—he's never been one for an original idea, and had to follow in Rehberg's footsteps. And typical Tester—he's done almost nothing in D.C. without Baucus' help.
Typical, really, of the relentless posturing in the wolf debate. As soon as one side wins a battle, the other side rallies its troops and wages an all-out attack. And so it goes—and has gone—for years. Perhaps someone—other than Bridges, of course—will eventually write the proper closing chapter to this otherwise never-ending story.