They were the activist arm of the forest protection movement of the 1980s and 1990s, and now the group Earth First! is back in the sabotage business. The group has released an online manual urging members and the public to sabotage wolf hunts.
The manual opens with a statement describing Earth First! members as proud hunters who prefer wild game to “factory farm meat,” but they say wolf hunters are not sportsmen.
“No upstanding redneck with the grit to call themselves a hunter would ever join in on a campaign to exterminate wolves, which almost happened in the lower 48 in the 20th century,” the manual states. It continues, “Wolves have only lately witnessed a small comeback. Wolves are apex hunters and any attempt to wipe them out is an attempt to kill the true hunter spirit. “
The manual goes to show people how and where to find wolf traps in the wild and disarm them. It even shows how to free a trapped wolf but warns anyone who tries is in danger of being injured by the trapped wolf.
Earth First! seems to be returning to its early years when it was formed by hunters and others determined to boot loggers and developers from public lands. In the 1990s they reportedly offered advice on how “spike” trees, but later denounced the action which caused injuries to loggers and mill workers. The group is credited with developing the now widespread tree sitting techniques. Many of the group founders split from Earth First! when it began moving in a more anarchist direction.
In its latest post, the group mostly promotes direct but peaceful action such as finding areas where wolf hunting and trapping permits are issued, then forming blockades and walking ahead of hunters with air horns to scare off wolves.
A Montana Fish and Wildlife spokesman warns if Earth First! activists cross legal lines they will be arrested and prosecuted.
Hunting groups say hunting and trapping actually helps keep wolf populations healthy by keeping down their numbers down to manageable levels. Wolf hunting is legal in five states, but not in Washington State.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reconsidering an earlier decision to remove endangered species protection for wolves.