Sitting on the steps of the State Capitol today, Mato Woksape of Corvallis, Ore., is midway through his third day of prayer fasting in opposition to the hunting and trapping of gray wolves in the U.S., including Idaho.
"I’m performing the Sun Dance prayer, which was performed for the buffalo," said Woksape.
Woksape began his vigil at sunrise on Tuesday, Dec. 18. He plans to go without food until sunset, Friday, Dec. 21, drinking only water when he "feels ill." He believes the decision to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the Northern U.S., and the subsequent hunting of those animals, is to protect mining and gas-drilling operations.
"We've identified three factors for why they're killing the wolf," he said. "The tar sand in Alberta, wells permeated by chemicals from natural gas extraction, and the third threat of mining in Minnesota and Michigan."
Asked if wolf tags had anything to do with the loss of farm animals, Woksape said he didn't believe wolves were the cause of many of those deaths.
"I don't see it as a ranching issue," said Woksape.
Representing anti-wolf-hunt groups like Howling for Justice, Howl Across America and the Northwest Wolf Alliance, Woksape said he speaks with tribes across the U.S. to protect their land against wolf hunting and trapping.