Hey Kids, Want to Play a Game?

Remember “Would You Rather”, that game you started playing early in adolescence and probably have ever since.  Back then, it was something like “Would you rather kiss Becky Friedman or swim in the sewer?”  Perhaps you evolved from there, to questions of whether swinging a waking dry fly for steelhead might be better than stalking a flat for redfish.  It’s not really a game I guess, because there are no winners or losers, but there’s a challenge in it that smacks of competition.  “Would You Rather” seems more interesting when its participants possess talents such as honesty and depth of imagination.

There is a movement afoot in the American west to drastically reduce populations of predator animals, both for the impact they have on animals like elk that humans like to hunt and for – a claim being pulled from an increasing number of asses these days- the threat predators pose to humans and poodles.  To certain “conservation” groups, there is seemingly only one predator in the world, the wolf, and it most certainly should be eliminated.  As one would expect, literature produced by these groups is much more hyperbole than biology, makes me wonder if anti-predator folks aren’t simply a bunch of fraidy cats.

OK, back to the game.  You’re on a camping trip, wearing your Smoke a Pack a Day ball cap, just sitting around the fire.  The moon rises full, and the howling starts up.  So would you rather…………………?

Get attacked and killed by that pack of wolves in the woods or get lyme disease? I’ll go with lyme disease.  I’ve seen a few people who got it from tick bites, and boy does it suck.  Very high medical costs, considerable long term incapacitation, the kind of inconveniences that can badly damage families with children or those with elders under care.  Lyme disease isn’t often fatal, whereas a wolf attack probably is.

How about wolves or dying of cancer?  Put another way, would you rather die once in a matter of minutes or time and time again over the course of years?  There’s the medical expense thing again, as well as knowing that your family gets to watch you go down the drain in super slow motion.  I think I’d rather be wolf poop.

How about if that howling in the forest was from a werewolf? Who would you rather disemboweled you?  As much as it would scare the holy bejesus out of me to even see a werewolf, I think I’d rather it was he who ripped me limb from limb, if only because he wouldn’t waste any time.

Consider that the odds of getting lyme disease are higher than the chances of a wolf attack.  And growing.  Thanks to our rich tradition of predator eradication and our resistance to predator reintroduction, animals like elk are subject to population explosions and all that comes with them – overgrazing, destruction of riparian zones, epidemics spread by insects such as ticks, more ticks.  I don’t know what the odds are of getting cancer, but given recent efforts on Capitol Hill to gut the Clean Water Act and neuter the EPA, I can’t imagine they’re going in the right direction any time soon.  At least I’ll put my money on wolf attack over cancer as something I’m certain is not how I’m going to die.

I think I’d even get eaten by a werewolf before a wolf on four legs.  Maybe not a real deal werewolf, but at least a metaphorical parallel, climate change perhaps, or any of the guys on Jersey shore.  There’s always something to fear beyond reason, some werewolf or bogey man.  Some wolf.

So let’s hear it.  Would you rather be attacked by a wolf, or…………?

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