Issues

Wolves chasing an elk

Image via Wikipedia

Wolves are disliked for many reasons. Many of these reasons are false, and the wolves are misunderstood. There are many issues and debates surrounding wolves. This page is to shed light on the real wolf.

Livestock Predation
    One of the main concerns about wolves is loss of livestock. Wolves DO occasionally kill livestock, especially in times of need. Many people who hate wolves are in fact farmers and ranchers.
    But you must consider: Wolves have to hunt to survive. That is how they have lived for thousands of years. People think that wolves are pests, eating their livestock. But for wolves, we are just supplying another food source. The truth is, wolves prefer to prey on deer, elk, rodents, and other natural prey. Wolves actually don’t prey on livestock as much as dogs and coyotes do. In fact, studies show that dogs are the main killers of livestock.
    Ranchers are always talking about how many cattle and sheep are lost to wolves. In reality, when you talk to ranchers, you rarely find one who has actually lost animals to wolves. It’s always “Another rancher that told them that they had lost a dozen sheep in one year.”. And if you find a rancher who HAS lost livestock, they have very little proof that wolves killed it. They find a dead cow with canid tracks around it. They immediately blame wolves. But in reality, it was most likely coyotes or dogs. Also, when cattle die (From disease, cold, coyotes or dogs) wolves sometimes scavenge from the already dead animal. Ranchers find wolves eating their livestock and…You can figure out the rest. Just look at these statistics from 2005:

http://www.peer.org/docs/doj/06_9_5_nass_report.pdf
When livestock are found dead, they have often been partially eaten. These animals usually died from health problems, then they were scavenged by vultures, fox, coyotes, wolves, dogs, of crows. But when an animal is found eaten, people always look to the wolf.
    So why is the wolf blamed? Think back to the Big Bad Wolf. That is what people naturally think of all predators. They kill other animals, so they’re bad. At least, that’s how the thinking goes. Wolves have killed livestock before. But it is rare. Since it has happened, and they are one of the top predators, they usually get blamed.

Game Animal Predation
Hunters often hate wolves because they compete for the same game. There are many sites saying “Save the elk, kill the wolves”. In reality, the wolves pose no threat of driving other animals to extinction. Since wolf reintroduction in the Rocky Mountains, elk and moose populations have gone down. Hunters don’t realize that before humans exterminated the wolves, this is how it was. When wolves disappeared, elk, deer, and moose populations shot sky-high. They had few predators, so they went out of control. These huge populations destroyed vegetation and caused an unbalance in the ecosystem. With more game animals, density dependent factors, such as disease and parasites, became stronger. With higher populations comes many more unhealthy individuals, and it is easier for them to pass on the disease to more individuals. The wolves are simply returning everything to normal. Remember that humans are the disruption in ecosystem, not the wolves.
    People think wolves are cruel to their prey. But if wolves didn’t hunt, then they would, of course, starve. Their prey are sometimes victims of brutal deaths. But this is the way nature is. The wolves aren’t trying to cause horrible, lingering deaths. They aren’t killing for sport. They are killing for survival.

These pups would die of starvation if wolves didn’t
hunt game animals.

    Governor Otter of Idaho recently referred to elk as “The state’s livestock”. They aren’t ours! The wolves have been hunting elk and deer a lot longer than humans. If anyone has the right to hunt them, it’s the wolves and other natural predators. The problem is that some humans think that we have the right to do anything we want with the other species on this planet. I’m not going to preach, but we haven’t been put here to decide the fate of nature. So just consider: If humans weren’t here, everything would work out fine. But humans want to hunt as well, so that messes up the balance. We need to find a better way to coexist with wolves.

Attacks on Humans
People who know very little about wolves typically think that they are man eaters. In fact, wolf attacks are incredibly rare. Most wolf attacks are from captive wolves. Wolves are kept in captivity, and people forget that they are wild animals, not pets. Wolf attacks in the wild are usually due to rabid or otherwise sick wolves. If a wolf is threatened or attacked by a human, it will defend it’s self. To avoid this, simply use common sense. Keep your distance! The only recorded fatal wild wolf attack was recently in Canada. Kenton Joel Carnegie was killed by wolves that had become too used to people. It could have been a bear, but most believe wolves to be the culprits. Even so! Dogs kill an average of 12 people a year. Deer attack and kill more people in one year than wolves ever have. Bear and Mountain Lions make up for a small amount of attacks. It is not wolves’ nature to attack humans, and it is not a justified concern.

Disease
Many arguments have been made that wolves spread disease to other animals. In some cases, this is true. But it is also natural. Deer and foxes spread just as much disease as wolves do. Diseases spread by animals happen, and it is natural. It has been happening as long as disease and organisms have existed.
    Wolves actually end up lowering the levels of disease, not raising it. Disease is what we call a Density-Dependent factor. That means that the more animals in a population, the sicker the population becomes as a whole. Wolves reduce the number of their prey, so the impact of density-dependent factors such as disease and parasites, goes down, since there is a lesser chance of it spreading. Wolves also tend to hunt the sick and injured animals from a herd, because they are easier to overcome. This is not always true, they will hunt anything they need to, but given the choice, they go for the sick and weak. So the wolves thin out the unhealthy individuals, leaving the population of their prey healthier.

Surplus Killing
Surplus killing is a rare event, but it does happen. Surplus killing is where a pack of wolves kills a large amount of animals in one area at one time, more than they can eat. Anti-wolf supporters call this “thrill kill”. This however, is a misnomer. The wolves are not killing for fun. The only animals that do that are humans. It is likely that this is a survival instinct , the selection for aggressiveness toward prey being an  evolutionary development  toward becoming a more successful hunter. It is also believed that they might be training their pups to hunt.  But for what ever reason, it is not that big of a deal. It would be, except that it hardly ever happens. Anti-wolf supporters use surplus killing as an example of how “evil” wolves are. They try to convince others that this is a common event, even though it is quite rare. Many of them use the false statistic that each wolf kills 2 animals for sport a month. The truth is that most wolves don’t kill even one animal a year as surplus killing.

Endangered Species Act
Gray wolves are currently under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Now that wolf populations have begun to recover, many believe that they should be removed from the list. Efforts have been made to remove them, but so far they have all failed. Wolves could survive without federal protection, except humans would hunt them to extinction. Human threats are the only reason that they are still protected. Wolf hunts were allowed in 2009, and the populations took a dive. These hunts had bigger impacts than what were realized. The hunts are no longer allowed. Wolves SHOULD be able to be removed from the list, but human hunters would drive them to the brink of extinction again. Hunters and ranchers urge for them to be removed from the list so that they can continue the slaughter.

Wolf Management
Wolf management is a controvesial topic. It is the idea that wolf populations need to be controlled by human hunters. This would not be necessary if it weren’t for game animal losses. People fell that wolves are taking too much of “their” game, so they want to lower the wolf populations through hunting. This process is unnatural and unnecessary. Without humans, wolves have no predators (With the exception of an occasional Grizzly Bear). The combined hunting of wolves and humans lower the population of game animals. But humans just try to eliminate the wolves, instead of hunting less. A gruesome example of the destruction predator control can cause was shown in Alaska.

Timeline of Wolf Management:
985-Wolves in Wales eradicated due to hunting
1500-Last wolf in England killed
1630-First wolf bounties in the US start in Massachusetts
1685-Last wolves killed in Scotland
1772-Last wolves killed in Ireland and Denmark.
1817-Over 1000 wolves slaughtered in Prussia.
1883-1915-Over 80,000 wolves killed in Montana
1943-Last wolf killed in Yellowstone
1945-Only remaining wolves in lower 48 states are on Isle Royale
1970’s-Present-Reintroduction programs and Endangered Species act prevent wolves from going extinct. Wolves still threatened by hunters.

Sarah Palin’s Wolf Disaster-(Graphic Images)
In 2007, Sarah Palin had just begun her term in Alasaka a governor. She decided that wolves were better at killing game animals that humans so she decided to “make things fair”. She issued a reward for killing wolves. For every front leg of a wolf that was brought in, the hunter received 150$. Hunters took to the skies. In planes and helicopters, they chased wolves across the tundra. Shooting them as they ran or, once the wolves were too exhausted to run, they landed and shot them. Worse yet, they hunted in winter where the wolves stood out against the snow, and there was nowhere to hide. Wolves struggled to run from the aerial hunters with bullets in their bodies. They fell to the ground and bled to death. Palin did not have the authority to offer the bounty, and it was eventually called off. But not before the killings of hundreds of wolves. Palin said to critics that “The wolves are stealing food off of hunters tables.” (I believe it’s the other way around.) Many hunters did not approve either, saying that it violated the ethics of hunting, and was simply slaughter. How ethical is hunting from a plane when your quarry has nowhere to hide? And Palin’s Predator Control program was not supported by science. It does not appear that the killing of wolves in those areas would raise the numbers of moose. She says that she is helping the environment and the people of Alaska through these programs. “Palin acts like she has never met an animal she didn’t want shot,” says Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. Palin then made moves to gain more power over the Predator Control, by trying to transfer authority over the program from the state Department of Fish and Game to Alaska’s Board of Game (The Board of Game was appointed by Palin). Palin and her board claimed that carnivores killed 80% of all moose and Caribou that die. These numbers are entirely inaccurate, and it became clear that Palin did not even understand the relationship between carnivores like wolves, and their prey. Palin wanted over 600 wolves killed. These acts in Alaska were a disaster, and they must be prevented from happening again. Thankfully, Palin no longer has authority in Alaska, or anywhere, for that matter.

 Horrible proof that Sarah Palin knows nothing about ecology and predator control, and that she is a bad pick for any political position.

Visit these links for more info on Sarah Palin’s “Wolf Management”:
http://www.salon.com/news/environment/feature/2008/09/08/sarah_palin_wolves/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFdijgMytUA
http://action.defenders.org/site/PageServer?pagename=c3palin_discoveryupdate/
http://blog.zap2it.com/thedishrag/2008/10/did-sarah-palin.html

Reintroduction
As humans moved into new parts of the country, they saw wolves as a threat. They began hunting and trapping these predators. In most parts of the country, wolves disappeared. Many subspecies became extinct.
    But not all was lost. In Yellowstone National Park, the wolves had been wiped out, elk and deer populations grew to fast. But in 1995, wolves from Canada were released into the park. Eventually, deer, elk, bison, and coyote populations began to return to normal. Vegetation was given a chance to grow again. But antiwolf supporters tried to stop the wolf reintroductions. They claimed that the new wolves were unnatural, and that the were a different subspecies than the ones that had been there before. This was proven false. Even though they were from Canada, they were the same type of Gray Wolf.(Country borders don’t mean anything to wolves.)
    The mexican wolf in Arizona and New Mexico had become extinct in the wild. The last remaining population had been captured in 1980 to begin a captive breeding program. In 1998, they released 3 packs into Apache National Forest. There are now estimated to be 50 Lobos in the wild. The current goal is to have 100 self sustaining individuals into the wild, there are hopes that the goal will be raised, since there were once many more mexican wolves.
    Red wolves were native to many areas in the southeast. Their lives were made difficult by human poaching and hybridization with coyotes. The last remaining population was captured in a desperate attempt to save them. A pair was reintroduced to Smokey Mountains National Park. They were successful at first, but eventually had to be removed because of poaching, disease, and struggling to find food. They have since been reintroduced to the Carolinas, where they currently live. Their future remains unclear.
    Many arguments have been made against reintroduction. People have said it’s unnatural (Not having wolves is unnatural) or that there are already wolves in places void of them. But the truth is that reintroduction of wolves has been beneficial to the ecosystem.

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