Wildlife me­di­a­tor steps into the fray when hu­mans howl about wolves

The Dominion Post - - World - Ja­son Nark Mad­den’s is par­tic­u­larly niche – her job is to make peace be­tween hu­mans who are fight­ing over wildlife. On a warm, early Oc­to­ber morn­ing, I meet Mad­den at the Na­tional Zoo. The 48-year-old – wear­ing cow­boy boots a shade lighter than her brown

One sum­mer, more than a decade ago, bi­ol­o­gists dis­cov­ered that gray wolves – once driven to nearex­tinc­tion in the con­ti­nen­tal United States – were breed­ing again in Washington state.

The sound of howl­ing wolf pups was wel­come news for con­ser­va­tion­ists, but not for the state’s US$700 mil­lion (NZ$1 bil­lion) cat­tle in­dus­try. Not long af­ter, when some wolves be­gan to prey on live­stock, age-old ten­sions were res­ur­rected.

Some members of that first pack were poached – de­spite fed­eral pro­tec­tions. Ranch­ers whose fore­fa­thers be­lieved a good wolf was a dead one now had to con­tend with gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and con­ser­va­tion­ists who had other opin­ions.

For­tu­nately, there was some­one to call for help: Francine Mad­den and her Washington, DC-based not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, the Cen­tre for Con­ser­va­tion Peace­build­ing. In a city full of fas­ci­nat­ing but oddly nar­row ar­eas of in­tel­lec­tual ex­per­tise, Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood, Peter and the Wolf, Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice notes, ‘‘than any other an­i­mal in US his­tory’’. By the mid-1970s, gray wolves were among the first an­i­mals to make the en­dan­gered species list.

Then, in the 1990s, the US Gov­ern­ment em­barked on a con­tro­ver­sial plan to boost the Amer­i­can wolf pop­u­la­tion with Cana­dian wolves. And as the wolf pop­u­la­tion of eastern Washington state grew, ranch­ers and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists be­gan bar­ing fangs. By 2015, things had be­come so bad that Washington’s Depart­ment of Fish and Wildlife hired Mad­den as a ‘‘third­party con­ser­va­tion­ists and vil­lagers agree on a so­lu­tion: cre­ate teams that could re­spond quickly to go­rilla at­tacks. In the years since, she has gone on to me­di­ate in­va­sive-species con­flicts in the Gala­pa­gos and around the globe.

In Washington state, Mad­den spent 350 hours in­ter­view­ing 80 peo­ple about wolves be­fore she led ad­vi­sory group meetings. She found anom­alies in the us-v-them nar­ra­tive: a hunter who de­scribed see­ing a wolf as a ‘‘re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence"; and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists who sup­ported, or were neu­tral about, the idea of a wolf hunt. Wolves, she found, were a proxy – Washington Post


Francine Mad­den, who me­di­ates be­tween hu­mans fight­ing over wildlife, at the Na­tional Zoo in Oc­to­ber.

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