Thursday, April 22, 2010

Respect wolves

Posted on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 4:00 AM

I have attended wolf panel discussions and hearings, read op-eds and articles, and done my own scientifically based research. I would like to share what I have learned.

Introducing wolves into the ecosystem does not even begin to compare to what the Europeans did to the buffalo to starve the natives. I heard that from a hunter, with obviously very poor hunting skills, in a panel discussion last night. What it does compare to is what the Europeans did to the wolf that caused a reintroduction to be necessary to begin to rebalance the ecosystem. Yes, the wolf is native to the area. No, the domestic livestock is not. The domestic livestock is why the natives of all species were driven off the land, for some to the point of extinction, and others, who were able to endure, have been struggling ever since.

Many members of the ranching community who state they are third or fourth generation ranchers have refused to learn how to live with the native inhabitants of the land and insist on getting handouts for their negligence. Instead of handing out money that taxpayers are being forced to foot, how about handing out education so they can take responsibility for their insistence on remaining in a place that they refuse to learn how to live in harmony with?

The numbers state that ranchers lose over 90 percent of their livestock to weather, disease and reproductive complications, not wolves. The native wildlife has been overcome with disease, bullets and poison so invasive, non-native livestock can continue to destroy the ecosystem they were brought into.

Elk numbers are up! “Nationally, elk numbers grew 44 percent, from about 715,000 to over 1,031,000, between 1984 and 2009. Montana herds are 66 percent larger, Wyoming is up 35 percent, and Idaho is up 5 percent,” wrote the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation on April 27, 2009. Why can’t the hunters see them? Wolves make prey scatter, and elk are not grazing in big numbers in wide open spaces any more. This actually improves the landscape and allows the browsed vegetation to recover. Wolves balance the ecosystem, keeping numbers in check. These wolves are not the big imported species that some claim they are. An Idaho Department of Fish & Game wolf expert says the average weight of the 188 wolves shot by hunters in Idaho averaged less than 100 pounds.

The wolves are back in their territory, not yours. This is good for the health of the ecosystem. Respect should be given, not death.

Jennifer Nitz

Missoula

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