Archive for the ‘nature’ Tag

How wolves and warriors help each other heal   5 comments

January 5, 2016 – Source

Matthew Simmons, Lorin Lindner and wolfdog Wiley at LARC

Matthew Simmons and Dr. Lorin Lindner at Lockwood Animal Rescue Center with Wiley, a wolfdog they saved from being euthanized. (Photo: Jennifer Dallas)

About 90 minutes north of Los Angeles at the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (LARC), healing magic happens every day. Nestled on acres of scenic land inside theLos Padres National Forest, LARC’s Warriors and Wolves program offers combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder the chance to bond withwolves and wolfdogs that have been rescued from abusive situations or abandoned because their wild roots make them poor pets. Together they heal and gain a sense of belonging — and a second chance at life.

“Combat veterans have been paid to be predators, much like wolves,” says LARC co-founder and Navy veteran Matthew Simmons. “Many come home with this inner war inside them. They don’t know if they’re an infantryman or a husband. And my wolves don’t know if they’re a wolf or a dog. That inner turmoil they’re both suffering bonds them together and they form a partnership that helps them both.”

LARC veteran bonds with wolfdog

A LARC veteran bonds with wolfdog Cochise who was relinquished by his owner for being a problem pet. (Photo: Sarah Varley)

Life after trauma

Simmons is intimately familiar with the horrors of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After serving in the Navy, including a stint in Desert Storm, he returned home and launched a computer company. He felt focused and successful, but the harrowing memories of combat lay buried, waiting to surface. He began waking at night soaked in sweat and felt strangely agitated after business meetings.

As his sleeplessness and emotional turbulence grew, Simmons consulted a psychiatrist who prescribed sleeping pills. He was soon popping a few at a time and washing them down with wine. “By this point I’d sold my computer company and was in turmoil, drinking too much and taking too many pills,” he says.

Desperate to stop his downward slide, Simmons visited another psychiatrist who diagnosed him with PTSD and suggested getting immediate help through the Veterans Administration (VA). PTSD can develop after traumatic events, including combat, and may cause nightmares, flashbacks, detachment, angry outbursts, addiction and sometimes suicide.

“I didn’t know what PTSD was, nor did I necessarily think I had it,” Simmons says. “I was a big tough guy.”

But he heeded the advice and connected with the VA Medical Center in West Los Angeles where he soon found himself volunteering to care for abandoned parrots and other exotic birds living on-site in the Serenity Park Sanctuary. Run by licensed clinical psychologist Lorin Lindner, the eco-therapy program helps traumatized veterans and traumatized birds recover together.

The experience changed his life. “That’s where I met the three animals I believe have kept me safe, sane and sober,” Simmons says.

The first two were Maggie and Ruby, feral parrots from San Francisco that had barely survived a brutal raccoon attack. “I watched them physically heal, and whether I was cognizant of it or not, I watched them forgive and let go,” Simmons says. Gaining their trust and nursing them back to health helped him release his own emotional wounds.

His third guardian “animal” was Dr. Lindner, now his wife.

LARC founds with rescue horse and wolfdog

Lindner and Simmons pictured at Lockwood Animal Rescue Center with a rescue horse Megan and Huey, a good-natured wolfdog found abandoned on the streets of Houston. (Photo: Jennifer Dallas)

Eco-therapy for the soul

In 2007, the couple bought a remote property outside Los Angeles in Frazier Park, known for its panoramic mountain views and pristine beauty. They started LARC, a privately funded non-profit, and began rescuing abused horses. At the same time, they learned about captive wolves and high-content wolfdogs (wolves with dog heritage) also in need of forever homes. Many are bred as exotic pets, only to be relinquished to shelters or permanently chained outside for exhibiting natural “wild” and “aggressive” wolf behaviors rooted in their DNA. Wolfdogs aren’t eligible for adoption at shelters so are usually euthanized.

After saving a wolfdog named Wiley minutes before he was to be destroyed, Simmons started taking him on visits to the VA. He was amazed at Wiley’s positive impact on everyone there. “The doctors acted different, the guys in my support group acted different, the security guard acted different, and so did I,” he says. “Absolutely everything changed.”

The couple decided to launch the Warriors and Wolves program at LARC, patterned after Lindner’s successful parrot program, to help veterans with PTSD who needed additional help. “These guys usually have a drug and alcohol problem,” Simmons says. “They’re disenfranchised from their families, often homeless, and many are suicidal.”

The couple also continued rescuing wolfdogs, including 29 that had spent their lives chained in a small enclosure at a roadside wolf attraction near Anchorage, Alaska. Former game show host and long-time animal activist Bob Barker donated $100,000 to fund the rescue.

The cornerstone of Warriors and Wolves is the idea that nature can heal a broken spirit. Veterans — who are either employed by LARC or volunteer — go on nature hikes and participate in stream-bed restoration, but the heart of their work is caring for the wolves and wolfdogs, who, like them, are outsiders and often misunderstood.

LARC volunteers cut up raw meat

Veteran volunteers cut up raw meat for LARC’s wolves and wolfdogs. Meat is obtained from the Landfill Diversion Program — mostly overstock and sell-by-date cuts that would otherwise be tossed by grocery stores. (Photo: Matthew Simmons)

Most quickly bond with one specific wolf or wolfdog. “The animal selects the veteran, and it’s a unique selection to that veteran,” Simmons says. “They usually have similar trauma and similar physical ailments. There’s no way they could know that. Some sort of cross-species communication goes on between them.”

Most remarkable is the special solace and healing they find together — a bond that lasts for life. And it’s not just with their soulmate animal; veterans are also accepted into the wolf pack where they learn about family and trust.

Many of the veterans go on to good jobs, often working with animals. Those who need more time can transition to the New England Wolf Advocacy and Rescue Center (NEWARC) in New Hampshire, which Simmons and Lindner started in 2013. Veterans live and work there for six months to a year, earning a good salary and continuing to heal. Many are able to reconnect with wives and children they pushed away during their PTSD battles and repair damaged relationships.

“Our program heals veterans who would otherwise probably die,” says Simmons. “And the wolves get to live out their lives and maybe share it in a special way with another sentient being who’s also suffered. It’s magical and special.”

Rescued wolfdog at LARC

Like many wolfdogs, Willow Girl was turned over to a shelter by her owners and slated to be euthanized. She now lives freely in a 3-acre natural habitat enclosure at LARC. (Photo: Renae Smith)

By Sidney Stevens

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Review of Wolves in Ireland by Kieran Hickey, TLS, April 2012.   2 comments

Source

August 30, 2015 by Seamus Sweeney

Going through my writings, I realise how little deals with something of great personal importance to me; nature and the natural world. Of course, semantic quibbling teaches us that “nature” and “natural” are weasel words. Talk about “the sounds of nature”, say, and you leave yourself open to all sorts of critiques and special pleadings. But talk about “the sounds of nature”, and special pleading aside, people know what you mean.

Other pieces about “nature” are no doubt in my oeuvre, but this is the one that springs to mind – a 2013 review of Kieran Hickey’s book on Wolves in Ireland. This is an academic text, and this review is something academic in bent. It was also my first piece to appear on the TLS website . This is the published text.

A burthensome beast

SÉAMUS SWEENEY

Kieran Hickey
WOLVES IN IRELAND
A natural and cultural history
155pp. Four Courts. ¤26.95.
978 1 84682 306 0

Published: 23 April 2012

At the Westminster Parliament in 1657, Major Morgan, representing Wicklow, enumerated the “three beasts to destroy that lay burthensome upon us. The first is the wolf, on whom we lay five pounds a head if a dog, and ten pounds if a bitch; the second beast is a priest, on whose head we lay ten pounds, and if he is eminent more. The third beast is the Tory, and on his head, if he be a public Tory, we lay ten pounds, and if he is a private Tory, we pay 40 shillings”.

Wolves and “wood kernes” (rebels living in forests) were often lumped together in English discourse on Ireland during the early seventeenth century, and Kieran Hickey provides much evidence that the authorities held an exterminationist approach to both creatures. The wolf is commonly supposed to have been eliminated in England and Wales during the reign of Charles II; in Ireland it persisted until the eighteenth century. Before the Cromwellian Wars the local population generally tolerated wolves; thereafter a combination of deforestation, a bounty system, a rising population, and a determination to tame “Wolf Land” all combined to doom the Irish wolf. The most commonly given date and place for the death of the last wild Irish wolf is 1786 in County Carlow.

The tallest breed of dog ever

Hickey, a lecturer in Geography at National University of Ireland, Galway, has written a history with abundant material on the zoology, folklore, history and cultural legacy of the wolf in Ireland. The Irish wolf-hound, the tallest breed of dog ever, and extinct in its original form (today’s wolf-hounds are reconstituted) is also discussed. There is, for a self-styled “cultural history”, little on literature. No mention of The Citizen’s wolfhound, Garryowen in Ulysses, and while we are told twice that W. B. Yeats was photographed posing in a wolfskin, we do not read of the wolves of “The Madness of King Goll” or “Three Marching Songs”.

Hickey is clearly more comfortable on the natural historical and the geographical (particularly wolf-related place names) than the cultural and historical elements. There are some striking solecisms. How different the history of these islands would have been if the Earl of Tyrone had indeed met “Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, John Harington” in 1599. And Hickey refers to the parliament which Major Morgan addressed as “the first united parliament of the three kingdoms”, which would have been a surprise to Oliver Cromwell.

Often the chapters on history and folklore read as an accumulation of somewhat random observations, a not atypical section reading: “The Greeks referred to the volcanic gases that came out of the ground as wolves, and the temple of Apollo in Athens was called the Lyceum, which means wolfskin. The wolf also features in Chinese mythology associated with astrology. Wolves feature heavily in the mythology of the indigenous tribes of North America”. Yet these cavils seems churlish, since Hickey himself cheerfully admits that the range of topics covered brings him outside his academic comfort zone. Indeed, he rather charmingly invites the reader to join in his research on the wolf in Ireland, estimating that many lifetimes would be required to fully work through the material he has gathered.

Hickey uses data such as the records of wolfskin exports from ports in the South-east to Bristol and historical references to wolves in various literary sources to try to extrapolate a population estimate. Of course, both of these methods have limitations that he openly acknowledges (it is very surprising that there are no references to wolves at all for County Donegal, the closest county to wilderness even now), but the natural historical detective work is impressive.

An area of about half the size of Ireland would be needed to support a viable breeding populationHickey also posits an intriguing counterfactual – that if wolves had managed to survive in Ireland up until the Famine, they possibly would have experienced a revival with the massive rural depopulation opening up much potential territory. A reintroduction is not feasible; using pack ranges from the United States (although European wolves tend to roam less), an area of about half the size of Ireland would be needed to support a viable breeding population.

Wolves have roamed Ireland in the last decade; but as escapees from captivity. There is no restriction on keeping wolves as pets, and Hickey cites recent escapes in Counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and Wexford as evidence of somewhat reckless atttitudes. The Welsh philosopher Mark Rowlands, when lecturing at University College Cork, ran daily by the Lee with his wolf Brenin, to the apparent indifference of farmers and passers-by. Perhaps modern Irish attitudes to wolves have returned to their pre-Morgan state.

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Wolves, Grizzlies, Coyotes and an Elk… Yellowstone’s Primeval Wonders   Leave a comment

From nomadruss on July 28, 2015

Yellowstone is full of wonders. There are of course the geysers, the splendor of the morning light, and the ancient forests. There is the primeval wonder of what the forest holds. Once in a while, for a short time, the life hidden in the forests reveals itself. I learned one evening of a wolf that had taken down an elk cow and decided to catch a glimpse of such life revealed.

When I arrived on the scene, a grizzly bear had chased a wolf away from its kill. Grizzlies can smell meat from over 2 miles away. The grizzly had sprinted across the meadow, stealing the female elk away. It was enjoying fruits of the wolf’s labor. The wolf was lying in the grass, waiting, hoping to retrieve its kill.

The wolf attempted to get the carcass back, but the grizzly is much too powerful. The wolf was time and again chased away.

As the bear stood over the carcass, the wolf watched.

The bear finally said, I’m going to drag the carcass over here, and bury it. That way others won’t be able to smell it. The wolf could only watch dejectedly. Finally at dusk, the wolf wandered the six miles back to its den.

The following morning a coyote wandered onto the scene.

It too was chased away when it approached too close.

The coyote was wily indeed. Many times it circled close, and was chased away. It kept circling the area in front of the kill, and finally it found a piece it could steal. The angry bear could only watch in disgust.

For some reason the grizzly wandered up the hill for several minutes. It was the coyote’s chance to get a meal. It had the carcass all to itself for a short time.

The grizzly then returned, feeding on the carcass for a second day. By the end of this day the grizzly was blissfully full. It laid on its back, on the buried carcass, paws in the air.

On the third day a younger grizzly appeared on the scene. It too was chased away. Indulging in a carcass seems to require a lot of work.

The younger grizzly wandered across the meadow, but would eventually return.

The big grizzly, having had its fill, wandered up the hill, never to return. The younger grizzly then fed on the remnants of the carcass. The cycle of life was once more complete, and the forest would soon grow dark and secret once again.

Group to protest Wisconsin’s wolf hunt at state Capitol   1 comment

From:  The Cap Times

December 04, 2014 8:45 am  • 

GRAY WOLF (copy)

A group of wolf advocates plans to engage in civil disobedience at Wisconsin’s Capitol building next week to protest the state’s wolf management policies.

The Wolf and Wildlife Action Group, a national group of activists, announced Wednesday that its members will protest at 11 a.m. on Dec. 8 on the Capitol steps. They will then move to Gov. Scott Walker’s office.

The group plans to deliver four “violation notices for Wisconsin’s crimes against nature” to the governor, citing the United Nations’ World Charter for Nature.

According to a news release, WWAG will release more details about the alleged violations when they deliver them to the governor.

The group “demands all wolf killing stops now and wolves be returned to full endangered species protection forthwith under the Endangered Species Act.”

Wisconsin’s wolf hunt has been controversial since Walker signed into law the state’s wolf hunting and trapping provisions. By way of that law, Wisconsin is the only state to allow dogs to be used hunting wolves.

The 2014 hunting and trapping season opened Oct. 15 and entered the hound phase on Monday. Dog use is prohibited until the conclusion of the gun deer season.

The state Department of Natural Resources sets a yearly quota for wolf kills; this year’s is 150. The DNR also sets smaller quotas for six management zones throughout the state, closing a zone when the quota is reached.

The season ends on Feb. 28, or when the statewide quota is met. As of Dec. 3, 147 harvests had been reported and only two of the six zones remained open.

Two zones were closed before their zone-specific quotas were met and two others were closed after their quotas were exceeded.

Some opposition to the wolf hunt comes from those opposed to the hunting and killing of any animals, while some comes from those who believe wolves specifically deserve protections.

In 2012, several groups sued the DNR seeking to halt the provision allowing the use of dogs in the hunt. The groups contended that the practice amounted to state-sanctioned animal fighting. That lawsuit failed.

The group coming to Wisconsin, WWAG, has led similar protests in Idaho and Montana.

Its members called for Idaho Republican Gov. Butch Otter’s resignation and spoke with him briefly in May. They delivered a “violation notice” to Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock in October.

Wisconsin wolves were taken off the federal endangered species list in 2011, allowing state officials to determine how best to manage the population.

At the time the bill was signed, the state’s wolf population numbered more than 800. Last winter, Wisconsin had at least 660 wolves.

When Walker signed the bill, he said in a statement that the hunt will help farmers protect their livestock by reducing the wolf population to a “healthy, sustainable level.

The wolf hunt.

The wolf hunt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 19th century painting depicting the conclusi...

A 19th century painting depicting the conclusion of a wolf hunt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

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