At the close of my time with the Paseo del Lobo events, as I was hiking out of Paradise Pack territory, a multitude of thoughts and ideas overwhelmed me. I stopped in a quiet meadow to contemplate the direction and magnitude of my advocacy. To suggest that the events of the week provided some seminal moment at which I was overcome by some higher level of understanding of the issues simply wasn't true. I was, perhaps, given a clarity of purpose and direction, but certainly no epiphany.
The many elements of the event coalesced into a singular, confused collection of separate but related ideas. I came to the realization that Mexican gray recovery is not about any one specific element such as artificial recovery boundaries, poaching, or local acceptance, it is about all of those issues. I knew this before, but perhaps I didn't fully come to that realization until that moment. Initially overwhelmed by the thought that each and every facet of species recovery was relevant and important, I simply cleared my mind and ate an apple amongst the trees and critters of that meadow. True story.
|Photo: J N Stuart, Mexican gray wolf|
Levity aside, there are key points to be made from my experience at the events of the week. Perhaps the tactics of the past did not elicit the necessary transformational change in thinking needed in some people to accept predators. If a key component of recovery is acceptance, how can that be achieved with various competing interests? I was careful to listen to the commentary of tribal members, wolf advocates, and others that I crossed paths with. For some, perhaps it isn't enough to simply know that the species is endangered. For those people, can the long term success of the program hinge alone on the concept of a forced acceptance?
Knowing that there are many intertwined and often competing interests, how can I as an advocate, or we as an organization, attempt to ensure the success of the program? In an ideal world wolves would not depredate, people would not poach, and politics would not interfere with science in a way detrimental to the long term viability of the species. Few specific aspects of such programs are perfect but the process is what we have, and it has worked for other species.
There is one incontrovertible truth in Mexican gray recovery, and that truth is the one thing that I know will ultimately keep the balance in favor of recovery of the species. Mexican grays are tough, resourceful, and have proven that they can, and they will do everything necessary to survive and propagate their species. There is a simple beauty in that fact. Given the chance they will not only survive, but thrive. It is our job to make sure they have that chance.
(Daniel will share future chapters of his extraordinary experiences as a participant in the Paseo del Lobo. Stay tuned...)