America once was about freedom and space. Most of that space was in the West, and still is. But that space is being seriously eroded. The kids of ex-Californians who fled to places like Utah (not too many of places like that anymore), now ride their all terrain vehicles vehicles across dunes that have not been traversed by humans for years, decades. The last scouts before the domestic hordes move in.

The writing is on the wall. Human beings are the ultimate protected species, and we are infringing on the last preserves in the once Wild West. When that is gone, then the last sunset dream cloud of the West will die with it, and with that, a buffalo-sized chunk of the American Dream.

Personally, I say the wolf belongs and the beef cattle do not. If we choose burgers over wolves, then we deserve marbled fat in our veins and bankruptcies from all that bypass surgery. We deserve the low standard of life of poor diet, diminished horizons, and an ever-more crowded country. Did I mention defending the border?

I once stared at a wolf across a narrow stream in the Northwest Territories, in summer. I was barely moving with the current; the wolf was standing still on the bank. I stowed my paddle and stared; and the wolf stood and stared, head down low, intent, ready to flee if necessary. Though unarmed, I felt no fear of the animal, whatsoever. Possibly, it never seen a human being before.

It was a silent, magical wilderness moment, which I treasure. It ended well, that encounter, for both wolf and human.

Comment posted to “Endangered Species: The Environmental Issue for 2012 by Nicole Allan,” The Atlantic, 6-28-11. By Hudson Owen