Waking up, becoming conscious, can be slow and painful. And, at times, we are given a gift that changes our perspective for the better for ever. So it was with Ernest Thompson Seton. In the late 1890’s, Seton set out to trap Lobo. This wolf was the nemesis of the cattle ranchers. They enlisted the services of Seton to trap the wolf and rid them of this cattle predator. One point that I thought was interesting was that the earlier frontiersman virtually exterminated the buffalo which was the wolves natural prey on the open plains. With the loss of that resource, the next best thing was the cattle, who were tamed and didn’t put up a fight.
Lobo presented many challenges to Seton and showed great savvy in steering clear of poisoned bait, traps and Seton’s other devices. Finally, Seton got a clue on how to entrap this infamous wolf. Lobo, the alpha male in his pack. was “in love.” The male wolf rarely leaves the female’s side for this period of time. That is exactly how Seton trapped him after months of failure.
The thing is that once he killed Lobo’s mate, it was easy to trap a broken-hearted wolf who was grieving. The traps that Lobo had been so clever at avoiding, now three of them shut on his legs. When faced with the trapped wolf, Seton felt a surge of perhaps respect or compassion. He brought the wolf home and tried to save him. Lobo quickly died of a broken heart over the loss of his mate and the loss of his freedom.
Seton never hunted wolves again and in fact went on to become a player in the conservation movement of the time and a co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America. He was a noted author and naturalist. In the book that he wrote documenting his experience with Lobo, Wild Animals I have Known, (1898), Seton made himself the villain and Lobo the hero! And so it was…this wolf was the key character in changing the course of Seton’s life and in awakening the public to the necessity of preserving rather than exterminating species.. Lobo assisted Seton in expanding his consciousness to recognize that wolves were beings with lives, emotions and even an intelligence that is hard for humans to comprehend.