Wolves – if you don’t mind me getting a little political

Recently the US government took wolves off of the endangered species list as part of the debt reduction plan. Personally, I do not see how it is relevant other than allowing states to sell wolf hunting licenses. Personally, I feel this is a big step back and if you are on this site then there is a good chance that you also at least have a respect for the wolf.

3 states – Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, all plan on making (or have already made) the wolf a “trophy” level hunt meaning a hunter can kill one on sight just so they can use it as a trophy.  I don’t have an issue with hunting like the Native Americans – use as much of the animal as you can when you kill it but allowing a mass hunt for wolves is not the right thing to do.  I’ve been trying to figure out why there is such large support for this and I’ve heard some pro-wolf hunt arguments and I’ll address my responses to the most common ones.

Wolves are aggressive towards humans” and “Wolf attacks (on humans) are too common“.  People making these claims are not well educated with wolves.  Generally, wild wolves are very skittish and will avoid human contact if they can.  In fact, wolf attacks are very rare.  According to the YellowStone Insider, between 1900 and 2000 there was an estimated 20-30 wolf on human attacks in North America.  That’s one every 3-5 years.  Out of those attacks, 3 were fatal and all 3 were because of rabies.  In comparison, there has been an estimated 71 fatal grizzly bear attacks in North America in the same timeframe.  That’s 23 fatal bear attacks for every 1 fatal wolf attack or even 2 fatal bear attacks for every 1 wolf attack (any kind).  An estimated 16-18 people in the USA die every year from domestic dog attacks.

Wolves attack far too many elk, deer, and other hunt-for-food animals.  Wolves (in any form) have been in North America (and around the world) for at least 500,000 years.  If wolves hunting these animals was a serious issue they would be extinct now but they aren’t.  Wolves hunting these animals are a clear sign of Darwinism (evolution / survival of the fittest).  The wolves are able to “weed” out weaker and slower animals allowing the stronger (and faster, etc.) ones to survive.  If they were not hunted then their numbers would grow to the point where either they would damage the ecosystem (by eating too much vegitation) and / or many would die of starvation thus weakening the gene pool even more.

Also, is the “I don’t want wolves to kill them so I can kill them” argument really a valid one?

Wolves attack livestock.  While I do admit there is this problem  the biggest concern is that there is rarely proof that it was a wolf that attacked the livestock.  Can the average person tell the difference between an animal that was killed by wolves, mountain lions, bears, foxes, bobcats, or coyotes?

Also, the Wisconsin Beef Information Center conducted a 7 year study on “wolf” attacks on livestock, the risks, and possible non-lethal preventative measures.  During this study they found out that “Killing wolves that attack livestock is also ineffective because very few wolves are involved in repeat attacks.”  Dr. Adrian Treves, who headed up the study, concluded “Our fear of wolf attacks on domestic animals may be exaggerated“.  Even the WI Beef Information Center believes this (and if they didn’t they wouldn’t have put it on their website).

There are too many wolves.  This one is probabaly one of the most uneducated statements out there (other than wolves being aggressive).  According to a Yellowstone report, the wolf population in their park went from an estimated 171 in 2007 to 124 in 2008.  The numbers continued to decline though 2010 where at the end of that year there was an estimated 97 wolves.

Out of all the excuses I’ve heard none of them hold any value.  Many wolf hunt supporters claim that the pro-wolf people are making up the facts as well as exaggerating numbers.  As you can see, I’ve posted facts from reliable published sources.  If wolves never existed we wouldn’t have dogs (most dogs come from domesticated wolves – some of the eldest breeds may have come from a “wolfish” common ancestor).  If excessive wolf hunting (which is what is proposed now) is allowed to happen we will lose the wolf forever.  Some subspecies are already extince in the wild because of humans.  The Red Wolf was extinct in the wild but due to a reintroduction into the wild they are now considered “critically endangered”.

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