woensdag 12 juni 2013

Wolves should remain protected!

The United States proposes to remove the protected status of wolves. 
Delisting Wolves?

Dear Sirs, Ladies,

We would like to stand here before you, defending these beautiful, yet much maligned creatures with arguments like: “it’s wonderful & magical to hear them howl on a Cold Winter’s Night”… but unfortunately in this day and age that is unlikely to sway you!

All life, be it plant, animal or human should have value, other than monetary, yet that’s all that seems to count; the money. We can “calculate” the value of an old solitary oak tree or a black rhino in the wild. However, looking beyond that, seeing that tree as a minute piece of the all-encompassing puzzle named Earth, more often than not we fail to do!

Wolves – like all creatures – are an integral part of the ecology. Take away too many stones from a foundation and that building comes tumbling down, take away the top level predators and your ecology will change. Just that has been shown to happen in recent times! In Yellowstone National Park the wolf was re-introduced successfully after having been gone for over seven decades. The results surpassed the expectations; scientific studies have shown a marked INCREASE in biodiversity!

Delisting the wolf and allowing it to be hunted to extinction will have consequences far beyond the emotional: there will be negative effects far and wide.

The wolves’ prey – ungulates, like deer, elk – unlike the wolf itself, are not self-regulating species! Take away the top level predator and they will thrive and multiply, and continue to do so! What that might mean is perhaps best demonstrated by the gruesome history of St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea. Reindeer brought there by the army as a backup source of meat were left to fend for themselves, without any predators. The result was a population explosion, a barren rock and then a total collapse: the reindeer died out completely.

A somewhat comparable situation exists today, in the middle of Holland, strangely enough. A –fenced-in – nature reserve, the Oostvaardersplassen saw ungulates introduced to give all kinds of birds a better living environment. But no predators exist and none can get there.

Instead of lush vegetation, *this* is what you now see: a rather desolate landscape.

On the other hand, in densely populated Germany the wolf has returned of it’s own accord, mainly migrating from Poland. But the German Government is happy to see them, protects them and offers compensation for the occasional sheep that gets taken. Normally wolf-packs will hunt deer, elk, wild boar, not domestic animals.

Sheep seldom fall prey to wolves but a rogue- or wounded one might be tempted on occasion. However, sheep can be effectively protected from wolf predation if only one is willing!

Protecting all cultivated crops from ungulates will be many times more costly than protecting sheep and offering reimbursement when predation took place.

If the deer and wild boar are left unchecked they will cause damage to crop cultures, each in a different way but there will be an increasing loss of dollars. If the deer, elk, wild boar are not hunted they WILL become more prevalent and bolder, venturing into areas where they now do not go. Collisions with cars will be more and more common and these will be very expensive; human lives will be lost!

Elk, when left unchecked, will become more and more prevalent, which will have a negative side-effect on rivers and brooks in the area. That in turn will negatively effect the Trout population, having financial impact on fishermen.

Also a regular part of wolves’ diets: beavers. Wolves that prey upon beavers provide an economically valuable service to human society. Trapping can also reduce or limit beaver numbers, but it is often not effective for a number of reasons. Each year, beaver cause millions of dollars of damage to human communities by constructing dams that flood roads, railroads, houses and farmlands, and many millions more by damaging or destroying valuable timber through flooding forests, girdling trees or cutting them down and eating the seedlings and saplings.

Last but not least: wolves are enemies of coyotes, which are considered a pest in most of the USofA.

One more thing: if delisting one particular subspecies must happen “because it was listed in error, the wrong subspecies” that shows a major flaw in delisting some species but not all. If zoologists behind their desks have this much trouble determining which wolf is what, it does not take a genius to understand what will happen in the field. Any hunter with any kind of wolf in his sights will take the shot, unable to accurately determine if it’s the subspecies that is listed, or not?!

I suppose we all heard the tale of “little Red Riding Hood” and most humans harbor an instant dislike of wolves for the rest of their lives. That, just like the love of hearing them howl, telling us all is well with our ecology, is our emotional response to wolves.

So, in the final valuation, perhaps it is good to set aside emotions and simply appreciate the value of the wolf to society!

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