HOWL Colorado

Editorial: The West needs more, not fewer, wolves

[large thumbnail url=”editorial-the-west-needs-more-not-fewer-wolves” filename=”editorial” year=”2010″ month=”06″ day=”09″] [thumbnail icon url=”editorial-the-west-needs-more-not-fewer-wolves” filename=”news” year=”2010″ month=”06″ day=”09″] George Wuerthner, hunter and former hunting guide and ecologist, wrote a guest column which appeared on the Missoulian Web site.

Despite the dire predictions from hunter advocacy groups that wolves are “destroying” elk herds, the real problem for Montana and other western states is not that wolves eat too many elk; rather the problem is that they do not eat enough.

Top predators like wolves can reduce populations of elk, deer and moose. Rather than view this as a problem, as state wildlife agencies are prone to do, a reduction in ungulates is a good thing for ecosystems. Fewer elk, for instance, can give favored food items like aspen and willows more time to grow. More aspen and willows can mean more songbirds and more riparian vegetation, which in turn can reduce flooding and create more fish habitat.

Top predators, by limiting other meso predators such as coyotes, can influence the survival of other species – for instance, pronghorn fawns appear to have higher survival where wolves have reduced coyote numbers. Predators can also limit the spread of brucellosis, CWD and other diseases, provide carrion for salvagers, and increase the “wildness” and alertness of prey species. Wolves perform and promote all these ecological services for free…

Read the entire editorial on missoulian.com: The West needs more, not fewer, wolves

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