"Wolf Wars": Embodiment and Symbolism in North American Wildlife Conservation
Published: 26 October 2012 by MDPI in The 2nd World Sustainability Forum session Social Values for a Sustainable Economy
Abstract: Wolves (Canis lupus) have long been held as a symbol of the North American wilderness and figure prominently in United States frontier mythology. Currently the legal status of wolves is being hotly contested following their near extermination and then successful reintroduction in the North Rocky Mountain region. The opposing positions on the status of wolves very neatly conform to political party lines, with Democratic Party members supporting the protection of wolves and Republican Party members opposing it. Wolves are recognized on both sides as symbols: for Democrats, the wolf is a positive symbol representing not only environmental wholeness but also the power of positive social programs legislatively; for Republicans, the wolf is negative, representing the destructive influence of outside forces, especially that of the federal government. Because the protection of wolves does in fact require the implementation of legislature, these associations are not without merit. This paper will review existing literature on this subject, extending back to the enactment of the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s', and will contribute new research on the recent developments, including the "delisting" of wolves from the Endangered Species List in August of this year, in order to elucidate the idea that a truly viable plan for animal conservation must be socially sustainable.
Keywords: wolf, canis lupus, conservation, conflict, symbolism, republican, democrat