Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wolf De-Listing on Hold

You probably already heard - but the government has decided to withdraw de-listing plans for now, thanks to the results of a court decision against the federal government. The plan was too extreme, and withdrawl of it will send the government back to the drawing board. The sad thing is, in the short time the wolves were without protection, some were killed. Idaho's population is 350 wolves lower than expected, even without a hunting season taking place. While shootings will likely not account for the total decline, hopefully the reasons can be explored.

I believe that wolves have a valuable role to play in the ecosystem as top predators and they should be left alone. The fact that man wants to live in wolf habitat areas should mean man lives with wolves, not eliminates them. But, even if we accept hunting as a valid means of population control (which I don't, other than for the sake of argument) allowing hunting poses some real problems. It's hard to tell males from females, so it will be hard to contol which sex is killed. Alpha pairs usually do all the mating, and it can be hard to identify the alpha pair. If one or both alphas end up getting killed, the pack will fragment, actually making wolf/human conflicts works as wolves spread out rather than stick to a given and established territory. Breeding will also be massivly impacted, so the choice to kill one wolf may have ramifications far beyond that one wolf.

In addition, wolves are providing a valuable service in keeping chronic wasting disease out of Yellowstone National Park. One pack is primarily responsible for this, taking down weak and sick animals and patrolling an area just outside the park boundry. Wyoming's plan to kill all wolves outside of Yellowstone would be a disaster for this pack and in turn, for the wildlife of Yellowstone.

It is too bad that man has such a huge prejudice remaining against the wolf. It is a beautiful animal and has a valuable role to play - as do bears and other predators. It's offensive to see how rabid people can be in their hatred of another species.

Hopefully this "time out" will allow the government to re-group and be a little more rational, examine the genetic breeding distribution and options between packs, and consider something less than the Wyoming "kill them all" crap ass managment plan. I will be very interested to see how it all goes, and it's nice to have a little good wolf news for a change.

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