Spain’s “scapewolf”: the government against the Iberian wolf
Wolf biologists often use the term “scapewolf” to refer to the individual animal occupying the lowest postition in the pack’s “pecking order”. The life of that creature can get hard enough for it to leave the safety of the pack and try its luck as a lone wolf.
Today the Iberian wolf has become a sort of scapegoat or “scapewolf” for a troubled and confused Spain. The problem is that, as a species, the wolf has nowhere to go.
Back in the hopeful seventies, naturalist and filmmaker Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente managed, almost single-handedly, to change the perception that the Spanish society had of the wolf, from hateful vermin to the ultimate example of the beauty and freedom of wild nature. In those days it was only normal for people to believe that a more natural life was possible, and that we were slowly but surely heading in that direction.
Now we are in the middle of a recession which is eroding away our brighter side. A few years ago we used to say that the crisis would bring out the best in us, that we would emerge more sober and wise. Now it seems that it has been the other way round, and we see ever more selfishness, aggression and spite everywhere. And politicians, always the opportunists, take every chance to offer new victims to the people’s hatred and frustration.
Now it seems it is the turn of the wolf to be sacrificed. Spain’s livestock owners are, like everyone else, seeing their life conditions worsening all the time, and the government is unable or unwilling to offer any real solution for their problems. But it can use a scapegoat, and it readily does so, offering to kill an unsustainble proportion of the already cornered Iberian wolf population. For a handful of votes, Spanish authorities are more than willing to renounce all pretense of a conservation policy, at the same time going against the spirit of all European environmental regulations.
We have learned the hard way not to expect much from our politicians. And if we still hope to leave a inhabitable world to our children’s children, it is up to the citizens to defend that hope.
Here is one opportunity for all of us as citizens to at least say no to mindless abuse and destruction. We can say no to the unjustifiable, government-sanctioned killing of 190 wolves in Northern Spain. I still believe it is possible for us to live with nature and not against it. In fact it is the only way, if we want a semblance of civilization to endure for more than a couple generations. Other things are harder: just SIGN!