The ranching industry is one defined by subsidy, whether on the feedlot or in the forest. Succinctly, we subsidize cattle and sheep to graze at sub-market rents on our federal lands. And, frequently there is compensation for the occasional loss a rancher finds is due to wolves. That many ranchers find difficulty in proving such predation as a cause for their losses is due more to the innocence of these animals than to the complexity of the process for seeking this relief.
We shouldn't withhold sympathy for these ranchers, nor their sheep and cattle - their losses, however small and few, are painful, and deserve advocacy. Besides, it is easy and necessary to feel sympathy for sheep and cattle; it is easy and necessary to sympathize with a rancher's financial difficulties when suffering predation.
But we also cannot forget that the wolf fundamentally contributes to the health of our rivers and forests, and the plains which stretch out from these distant habitats. Every plant looks to the wolf for protection; and this includes the trees of the lumberjack, and the crops of the farmer - and the miller who buys the farmer's grain, and another miller who cuts the lumber. The bread which feeds our children and timbers which shelter them are watered with rivers diluted by the blood spilled by predators such as these.
A wolf is a better hunter than humans ever may be. Unlike the wolf, human hunters are driven by greed or sympathy. It's our human nature to strike at the strong and eat only the healthy, even if it means starving the young of a herd. And we should not now permit our greed or sympathy to drive an emotional reaction in defense of sheep and cattle, and their ranchers, to the inestimable detriment of our own young. Rather, understanding adequate protections and ample subsidies are already in place for these ranchers, and the urgent necessity for the wolf and numerous other endangered and threatened species, we must dutifully support the endangered species act and other environmental protection laws.