Wolf News


Guest Column: Wolf harmony is possible

Here is the truth about how wolves were suddenly removed from the Endangered Species List:

It was Mike Simpson of Idaho and Jon Tester of Montana who were responsible for the delisting of the gray wolf. They had attached a “poison pill” into a “must pass” bill that was to remove the wolf from the endangered species list indefinitely.

Federal Court Chief Judge Malloy from Montana had stated that the federal government likely violated the law when it removed the gray wolf from the ESL. Wolves are big game animals and are not considered to be fur bearers which are only what trappers are allowed to trap … that is … until the “witch hunt” started.

When the wolf was eradicated from Yellowstone National Park in the 1920s, the parks entire ecosystem changed. It had become noticeably anemic. What was discovered (as expressed in the documentary “LORDS OF NATURE” from PBS), was that when the wolf kept deer and elk populations constantly moving and thinned out … they had healthier deer and elk.

Aspen trees, cottonwood trees, grasses, various frogs, beetles and a variety of bird species (to name a few) began to come back and thrive again. Stream banks weren’t being overgrazed anymore so the beaver also thrived. It was clear that the reintroduction of wolves was breathing life back into Yellowstone once again. It began to flourish while restoring this delicate balance.

Many livestock owners in Montana, Washington, Oregon and several other states have now woven the wolf into their livestock operations … but the biggest wolf success story is what is happening in Minnesota where the wolf is still on the Endangered Species List. The ecology of wolves and their relationships to humans have been more studied in Minnesota than anywhere else in the world.

They have a management plan to ensure the long-term survival of wolves while addressing wolf-human conflicts that result when wolves and people live in the same vicinity. Wolf populations in Minnesota will be allowed to continue to expand with a minimum population goal of 1,600 while it remains 150 in Idaho. The illegal taking of a wolf is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by fines around $3,000 and imprisonment in the county jail up to one year while restitution is up to $2,000. The hunters in Minnesota welcome the wolf and the hunting is “fantastic.”

This is a far cry from what Idaho is doing to wolf populations. To say that “the wolf harasses wildlife” is nothing short of an oxymoron statement by anyone who doesn’t understand this delicate balance that we so desperately need … especially after seeing the phenomenal change that took place in Yellowstone.

The fertile smells of life and growth aren’t in our forests anymore. The wolf … also the mountain lions, bobcats, bears and coyotes, etc. … all play a huge part in this equation. There was a reason why we reintroduced the wolf. We need our predators and we need to start taking notes if for no other reason than for our own survival.

No one appears to be talking about this amongst our elected officials. It is my opinion that they have taken up the charge to reduce wolf populations in the most archaic, outdated, wild-wild west type of approach … and all of this … in the face of proven statistics that have shown a more humane and viable way of handling this issue. I feel that taxpayer dollars could go a lot farther if wiser choices were being made that could benefit both livestock owners and wolves.

As far as the livestock industry goes, there is an abundance of help and information available now for ranchers to stand on the shoulders of those who already are using these proven techniques today. They would probably discover that the new methods are cheaper than the “shoot from the hip” mentality that the Wolf Board has chosen to use in this state.

We need to take a deeper and more sensitive look into what all of this means for us down the road for the survival of our own species.

Animals will flourish without humans … but humans will perish without animals.

Kevin Brown is a Kootenai County resident.

This Guest Column was published in the online edition of The Coeur d’Alene Press.

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Photo credit: David Chudnov

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