Wolf ad rubs some the wrong way

Rocky Mountain News

By Deborah Frazier, Rocky Mountain News

Don’t mess with Colorado wolf lovers.

Wolf advocates are snarling over a Bush-Cheney television ad that shows a well-fed pack of wolves staring at the camera and then romping off.

“In an increasingly dangerous world . . . even after the first terrorist attack on America, John Kerry and the liberals voted to slash America’s intelligence operations,” the narrator says.

“Cuts so deep they would have weakened America’s defenses and weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm,” the message ends.

“The comparison to terrorists was insulting,” said Pat Wendland of Wolves Offered Life and Friendship near Fort Collins, which owns a refuge for 35 wolves.

Wolves play a valuable role in ecosystems, cleaning up carcasses and culling weak and sick wildlife from the breeding population, she said. “We have worked for years, teaching people that Little Red Riding Hood lied.”

Wendland knows wolves. She and her husband live in a house surrounded by large pens of wolves. There’s also a “house” pack that lives in the home.

“The pack on television looked like they were going to run and play, not attack,” said Wendland.

Other Colorado wolf advocates are howling, too. “Wolves don’t pose a threat to humans, unlike terrorists,” said Rob Edward of Sinapu, a Boulder-based wolf advocacy group.

“Now we have this huge graphic media buy that associates the maligned species with terrorists,” said Edward.

Danny Diaz, the Bush-Cheney campaign’s spokesman on the ads, said the footage came from National Geographic.

“Those funding cuts that Kerry voted for would have weakened America. And weakness attracts those who would do America harm,” he said.

Edward said there has been no verified case in the United States of wolves who live in the wild killing a human.

In this predatory political year, there’s even a Web site, http://www.wolfpacksfortruth.org, that rebuts the wolf-terrorist link, said Edward.

The site chides Bush for weakening federal protection for wolves, he said.

Peter Shadix, an Ohio computer software engineer, designed the Web site and said he’s gotten more than 125,000 hits since Saturday.

“Would the wolves in the ad support President Bush if they could vote? I don’t think so,” said Shadix.

Edward said the ad was typical of campaign ads – inaccurate.

“They don’t look at us as food. Wolves are not out there as a hair-trigger risk,” he said.

Wolf lovers have a friend in the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, which said the ad is misleading.

At the center’s http://www.factcheck.org Web site, the center said the first terrorist attack occurred in 1993 and Kerry voted to increase intelligence spending prior to Sept. 11, 2001.

Adding insult to injury, the ad came out during Wolf Awareness Week, said Edward.


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