While much of the country is (not) engaged in the (faux) debate over “Christmas” vs. “The Holidays,” the Flathead has got a what-to-call-it controversy all its own.
On Dec. 13, the Kalispell school board split on a vote to name the Wolfpack as the mascot for the community’s new school. The split vote sent the name back to the committee of students, parents and administrators that selected it.
Board trustee Mark Lalum says he voted against the Wolfpack.
“I wanted them to make sure they were aware that it was a very controversial name,” he says. “We were the site of reintroduction. It was very controversial.”
Lalum also noted a potential gender problem with the name.
“A female wolf has a particular name to it,” he says.
Lalum concedes that the controversy over wolves may have waned over the years, but he wants the committee to be sure. And the controversy does appear to be alive for at least a few people. U.S. Fish and Wildlife is still investigating three wolf carcasses found last month in northwest Montana.
But, Lalum says, “If that’s the name they come back with, then so be it.”
He says other names that were considered included the Grizzlies, the Mountain Lions and the Avalanche.
But grizzlies, like wolves, are a bit controversial, so much so that more than 20 have been illegally killed in the last two years in northwest Montana. Mountain lions, too, have caused their share of problems in the West recently, stalking humans where the mountains meet the suburbs. And avalanches might not be safe either, having caused 23 human deaths in 2004 alone.
Despite the potential pitfalls in naming a school mascot, Lalum expects the new Glacier High School to have one by Jan. 1. He adds that the process has been exciting.
“It’s not often you get this opportunity,” Lalum says.