July 30, 2008

Twispted Reality by Patrick Hannigan

Nothing brings a family together like a night spent camping in nature. Conversely, nothing tears people apart like a pack of hungry wolves. Therein lies the wonderful conundrum of wilderness.

Wilderness gives us a glimpse of our animal nature and offers us insight into the nature of our humanity. Tragically, few people have this opportunity because wilderness itself is an endangered species.

The Methow may not be virgin wilderness, but we do have predatory megafauna like bears, mountain lions – and now wolves. It is still possible for people to participate in the food chain, which is great, because being eaten by wildlife is a humbling experience.

In fairy tales, wolves are cunning, deceptive and bloodthirsty. Yet it’s unlikely any of us will end up digested like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, the Three Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood.

The fables about wolves aren’t really about wolves at all; they are parables about people. The wolf of myth is a symbol upon which we project the dark side of our own nature. We have nothing to fear from wolves, but they have every reason to fear us, because civilized people are the most dangerous wild animals on Planet Earth.

Thus the first mistake the new Methow wolf pack made was revealing its presence. By howling back, the wolves condemned themselves to being trapped, tranquilized, tagged and tracked.

Science simply cannot tolerate the idea of unmolested wildlife. Wildlife needs to be managed and controlled. Last week, biologists in the Methow captured and collared the alpha male and female of the first known resident wolf pack in Washington State since the 1930s.

“We can observe, monitor and find them again to put more collars,” said a government spokesperson. “With these new electroshock collars, we can also proactively train the wolves how to avoid conflict.”

According to biologists, the shock collars allow them to “zap” the wolves whenever they engaged in inappropriate behavior such as huffing and puffing and blowing houses down, or eating grannies.

Biologists like to give human names to the wild animals they are surveilling. Members of the research team are still debating, but the male wolf will likely be known as either Bob or Fabio, and the female will be Mildred or Jennifer.

How do the wolves feel about all this? To answer that question, Twispted Reality visited their lair and secured an exclusive interview.

Twispted: So, what do you think about your new names?

Alpha Male: Bob? Fabio? They make me sound either boring or gay. Why can’t I have a cool name like Slide Couloir?

Alpha Female: Yeah, Mildred is so 1870s and Jennifer is so 1970s. How about a sexy, powerful name like Ravisheena?

Twispted: How’s the Methow treating you so far?

Slide: It’s been traumatic. We came to the valley in search of fat deer and lean outdoor enthusiasts, but so far we’ve been trapped, probed and tracked. Maybe we’ll follow Melanie the wolverine back to Canada.

Twispted: How do you like your new electroshock collars?

Ravisheena: It’s uncomfortable and it doesn’t go with any of my outfits. If I have to wear this fashion disaster around my neck, then the biologists studying me should have to wear them as well.

Twispted: How are you coping with the challenges of parenthood?

Ravisheena: It’s exhausting trying to raise six wild pups in today’s over-civilized world. At the end of each day, we just want to curl up on the couch and watch “Animal Planet” or “Wild Kingdom” reruns. It’s tough to find time for romance – we don’t howl at the moon as often as we used to.

Twispted: So what’s for dinner tonight?

Slide: We’re going to start with poodle tartare served on bite-sized toast points with a wasabi-vinaigrette dipping sauce. The main course is poached leg of lamb stuffed with sage on a bed of wild asparagus, with barbecued dates wrapped in proscuitto ham on the side. For dessert, who knows? Why don’t you stay for dinner? You seem like a nicely marbled – I mean nice sort of fellow…

Twispted: Uhh…thanks…sounds delicious, but I really should be going…