Whereas conservationists contended that the wolves were an asset for environmental balance, the ranchers were simply sick and tired of this carnivorous species which they felt were a nuisance.
Among the evidence cited was the figure of 0.0001% which was the amount of cattle killed by wolves per billion. "Wolves kill less than 0.0001 percent of the 1 billion head of cattle in this United States," said Kimberly Richard, of angelsprotectors.org, working to help gray wolves.
It is infinitesimally small. Yet the ranch owners feel that wolves are endangering their means of livelihood. The gray wolf was nearly killed off by a massive campaign at the beginning of the 20th century.
However, a single remaining member somehow made its way to California and it is from this last remnant that the generation of present day wolves has descended.
As opposed to the activists’ contention that a very small portion of livestock are killed by wolves, the ranchers affirm that the number of wolves shot dead is a meager sum too.
"The big game that the wolves will typically hunt isn't nearly as numerous here in California as it is in other states," said Mike Williams, of the Ventura Cattleman's Association.
Both sides are armed with arguments supporting their points of view. The truth in a way gets lost somewhere between their diatribes and debates.
Furthermore, it has been said that the wolves are a danger since they spread disease. The California Endangered Species Act may yet rescue the gray wolf from the deadly shotguns of the ranchers. It already lends protection from harm to many species of flora and fauna.
"Not only could ranchers not legally control wolves attacking their cattle, CESA (California Endangered Species Act) listing would mean a rancher cannot even peacefully chase a wolf off his property," said Kirk Wilbur, director of government relations for the California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA).
The ultimate goal is to conserve the environment from the onslaught of big business interests which have a steamroller effect on everything beautiful, wild and natural.
Gray wolves despite their dangerous nature are a vital and fundamental part of the pristine milieu of California’s forests and wilderness. They must not be cast off from the face of the earth as a non-entity.